G2E wraps up as experts give upbeat view of US

The global gaming industry has just wrapped up its annual shindig in Las Vegas, with participants hearing a fairly upbeat view for the industry in the United States, even though the current drop in Asia demand is weighing on overall strip revenue.

American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman kicked off the show with a speech outlining how far the industry has come in terms of economic impact, mainstream acceptance and consumer perception. He discussed the recent shift in economic climate, including Moody’s decision to raise its outlook on the industry, with gaming markets across the board on the rebound. Las Vegas took in $1 billion this May, while Maryland had a $500 million fiscal year in 2014. Atlantic City – a market currently undergoing right-sizing – is also picking up with seven out of eight operators once again profitable.

However, the main talking points from the show were very much focused on how to engage the so-called millennial generation and how new technologies are driving a phenomenal rise in betting on eSports and Daily Fantasy leagues.

Caesars Entertainment’s new CEO Mark Frissora spoke of the need to develop new technology to target this sector of the market.

“We need to be open to a new segment of the population. There is a huge opportunity to create a new customer segment,” Frissora said on a round table, pointing to his group’s efforts to capitalize on millennials and their attachment to mobile technology and social gaming.

How casino operators are able to manage and achieve convergence between these new trends is likely to be a key to future success, presenting huge opportunities for those who get it right. However, with sports betting only legal in a handful of U.S. states, and Fantasy Leagues operating in a legal grey zone, there may need to be further regulatory clarity before any real crossover can be discussed.

AGB will be tackling some of these issues in our weekly intelligence articles in coming weeks.

Despite the discussion of new trends and the buzz surrounding skill-based slots, there was little in actual new technology to emerge from the show.

New products and themed offerings were revealed, with Scientific Games bringing characters from the hit T.V. series The Simpsons to the slot world for the first time. Wells Fargo in a note said Asian-themed games were performing well, and operators have said they would have preferred more products along those lines than film and T.V.-licensed games.

The expo concluded with a look at attracting the younger generations who are shying away from gambling in favor of other forms of entertainment.

Mike Dabadie, president of Heart+Mind Strategies, discussed the mindset of the next generation of consumers and how operators can go beyond increasing interaction and actually generate demand through refining value propositions.

Dabadie argued that, due to millennials believing their money and time is better spent in entertainment venues that are not gambling related, the idea is to create an emotional demand and memorable experience for casinos to become an attractive venue for millennials to spend their time and money.

Rahul Sood, founder of UNIKRN, the most comprehensive sports book for eSports, urged the industry to think outside the box to engage with younger generations.

The eSports phenomenon is creating a lot of excitement at the moment, with its following expected to match the size of the NFL’s by 2017.

Sood provided casino executives a glimpse into the market that is projected to produce $1.81 billion in annual gambling revenue by 2020, and encouraged the industry to embrace and legitimize it further.