How Technology Can Save Brick-and-Mortar Casino Businesses
If you suggest that the brick-and-mortar casino business is struggling, and you might be challenged.
This is an industry that is still full of popular, massive venues that attract tourists from around the world and rake in huge amounts of money. Even with this being the case though, not everything is as it once was in the casino business, and there are some potentially serious issues that have arisen in recent years. Consider, for instance, the following:
- Declining game popularity – Arguably the most frequently discussed challenge modern casinos face is that younger generations aren’t as interested in the games. This is particularly problematic regarding slot machines, which have long been the most profitable of the bunch. Millennial and Gen-Z visitors simply don’t engage with these offerings.
- Waning desire to gamble – The same younger generations also have less desire to gamble in general (at least in the traditional sense). Per an assessment by the U.S. site Gothamist, millennials who do visit in-person casinos may spend two-thirds less money on gambling than their more senior counterparts. They’re there instead for experiences, spending more on drinks, food, and entertainment.
- Impatience with inefficiency – Younger generations have also grown up being able to access entertainment at a moment’s notice, and are less accustomed to some of the waits and inefficiencies inherent to the in-person gambling experience. Waiting around for poker tables to open up, standing in line to exchange money for chips, and so on simply aren’t always worthwhile to people who are used to accessing games quite literally through a single touch on a device.
- The pandemic – The pandemic has of course played a role as well. It was way back in February of 2020 that NYTimes.com ran a story about the shutdown of Macau — one of the world’s biggest casino hubs. That piece spoke of a “devastating” impact, which unfortunately lengthened and spread to other casinos all around the world. It’s an unprecedented interruption of business, and one that may have led some casino-goers to migrate permanently to online alternatives.
Some of these issues may work themselves out over time. For the most part though, they’ll need to be addressed directly if casino businesses hope to maintain their extraordinary success in the years and decades to come. And various tech solutions are likely going to play major roles in the process.
Not only in casinos but in a variety of public venues, consumers are going to emerge from the pandemic with sharper eyes for sanitation. Accordingly, technology in this space is going to become more important. In a casino, that can mean any number of things: improved air filtration systems, automated temperature scans at entry points, touchless sanitiser stations, and possibly even biotech identification systems that will screen guests (say, for vaccine proof for instance). These technologies may not all be necessary at a given time, but they speak to the general idea of sanitation-related tech helping casinos to reassure customers.
Digitisation of Waits
We mentioned above that many in younger generations simply don’t have the patience for some of the waits and inefficiencies in casinos. This is a problem that can be addressed by technology as well — and in fact it’s one that already is being addressed in some cases. Poker.org posted recently about strategies for playing poker in a real casino, and noted that there is now an app called “Bravo” that shows poker rooms, identifies open tables, and even allows people to put their names on wait lists remotely. This is a specific example geared toward casino poker, but it’s a fascinating solution, and one that could make casino entertainment significantly more efficient (and thus more appealing).
There’s something outdated about how money changes hands in a lot of casinos, and this contributes to the questionable nature of the businesses’ appeal to younger people. Modern, tech-driven payment solutions can go a long way toward solving this problem pretty easily, however. While it’s not a technology that’s necessarily going to be useful for brick-and-mortar casinos, the VibePay program we’ve written about previously shows how some of these technologies are already being built specifically to match Gen Z lifestyles. People in this generation want streamlined payment options, automated activity logs, reduced fees, and quicker transaction times, and frankly there’s no reason for these elements not to be built into modernised payment processors at casinos.
In the end, it may all come down to something as simple as the introduction of new games also. There’s been some buzz about turning traditional video games into gambling activities to appeal to players, and this idea likely has some merit. But it may be that in the next five years or so we also see augmented and virtual reality experiences built into casinos. We might see automated dealers running new types of table games, and we’ll undoubtedly witness advancing sophistication in slot and video card games. Altogether, improving tech behind games might just change the casino experience enough to make it trendy again.
Through these various means, technology has the potential to update, improve, and ultimately save brick-and-mortar casinos.