Thoughts on the Casino of the Future

The casino gaming areas of the future will not, in any way, resemble the slots floors that exist today. They will be new, different, more exciting, more fun and more focused on customer enjoyment.

The world is changing, and so will the casino. We’re in a period of rapidly changing everything. iPads, smartphones, scan codes—everywhere we look, we see rapid change, much of which is being fostered by new and breakthrough technology.

The critical questions for the gaming industry in light of these changes are: What will the new casinos be like? And what changes will be made to existing casinos to keep them viable?

Recently, a small group of knowledgeable and futuristic thinkers related to the gaming industry gathered in a private meeting in Las Vegas to discuss and strategize about the future of the casino. The synergy of this brainstorming summit brought forth a wide variety of visions that could become the gaming of the future.

The ideas that were discussed ranged from the obvious to the radical. One of the things that was agreed upon by all was that “the casino industry is not changing as quickly as the customer, the competition and the technology demands.”

“Player-Based” Gaming
While there has been a lot of discussion about progressing from “slot-based” to “server-centric” gaming, the real discussion should revolve around the customers, not the hardware.

People are becoming totally mobile, as their smartphones release them from being chained to one place to stay connected. The slot floor may disappear altogether. This could actually be a great opportunity. Instead of being confined to a distinct and dedicated area of gaming, customers may be able to play in their hotel rooms, while eating lunch, sitting in the bar, or even in the concert venue while waiting for the show to start.

As gaming devices of the future gain Bluetooth and wireless capabilities, there could be closer interface with the players using smartphones and their own personal accounts.

Games will be personalized, customized experiences for players. By understanding the habits and preferences of each individual player, the casino can create marketing and database awareness around that individual player. Delivering the right product for the right person at the right time maximizes the entertainment value and player satisfaction. “Rewards for players will be much more focused (and more profitable for the casinos) and delivered mostly during the play of the games,” says Dennis Conrad of Raving Consulting.

Custom-er Choices
Gaming areas will be re-invented to provide a better customer experience. Customizing the casino for individuals is essential to deliver the best possible experience to each customer. We can’t just give our customers a room full of slot machines. We have to give them an unforgettable experience.

The casino of the future will provide a variety of options that will delight each customer. “The large casino will be divided into smaller, discrete gaming spaces that are uniquely designed for customer preference. Each will have a distinct environment with its own feel and character to fulfill the desires of different people, different demographics and different tastes,” comments Rich Emery, a design partner at Thalden • Boyd • Emery Architects.

It will target what is most attractive to each of the customer groups and provide it. This will create a great place to play for each customer. Someone brilliant once said, “To be successful, find out what your customer wants and deliver it.”

“Our customers will be driving the next evolution of our casinos. We will be revising our properties by creating gaming spaces that are unique and diverse, so that our customers will see that we really care about them,” states casino CEO Jeff Livingston.

The successful casinos will be the ones that provide a unique experience for gaming that people can’t get at home or anywhere else.

Gaming Machine Revolution
In the future, gaming devices will be different. The term “slot machine” will disappear as the new displays become available on a variety of easy-to-use and easy-to-carry hardware.

Playing can be on wireless hand-held devices because the outcome on the game is actually happening on the server. The device is just for presentation. For example, Acres 4.0 is currently introducing a way for casinos to use iPads to run poker, keno and slot games.

As i-gaming is approved, suppliers and operators will have to work together to create experiences at bricks-and-mortar locations that players simply cannot find online.

For the industry to move ahead successfully, John Acres, president of Acres 4.0, contends:

1. We must remove archaic regulatory and economic barriers to truly new game content and entertainment.
2. Create truly affordable pricing on our casino games.
3. Connect fully to the Internet and all the social environments it includes. Casino gaming must become part of the Internet (even if Internet gambling is illegal, we can still do a great deal to entertain our player and encourage them to visit the casino).

New Environments for the New Gaming
“The slot environment will be very different—and more comfortable—with the games added to an already integrated—and much more pleasurable—design environment. Unfortunately, most existing casino floors do not seem to be designed with the casinos’ customers in mind,” comments Conrad. “Monotonous slot rows and uncomfortable playing experience will be replaced by something much more interesting and play-inducing.”

Out of the Box
Casinos will no longer be slaves to the boxes, which will allow much more intriguing slot-playing environments. The casino of the future (more likely three to five years than 10 years) will no longer have slots that are in fixed machines lined up in rows like little soldiers. Customers will be accommodated in comfortable, non-fixed, lounge-type seating. The computer industry is rapidly moving to “mobile.” Server-centric casinos will allow customers to play in a variety of environments (even outdoors), on a wide variety of conveniently placed or hand-held displays. Slot machines will market themselves, enticing longer play. There will be more game choices and, like at, there will be a sidebar that says: “People who enjoyed this game have also played …”

Casino floor design will include variety, invention and surprise. It will be bold, dramatic, exciting and fun. It will have a variety of “pleasure options” so that players can, according to their own individual needs and desires, keep the great experience going.

For the industry to move ahead successfully, David Kranes, a professor at the University of Utah and a frequent author on gaming, contends that casinos will be:

1. Much smaller—boutique or niche casinos. Mega-resorts are architectural pissing contests, built hubris. The casino that tries to have something for everyone ends up having nothing for anybody. Casinos which, acre after acre, relentlessly rub their patrons’ noses in “This is a casino!” are now dinosaurs. Look for casinos with only 20 to 25 percent of the front-of-the-house space we’ve been seeing. Look for spaces that look more like the wonderful hotel lobbies of old. Look for much more flexible hand-held gaming in this boutique space.

2. Demographically tailored. Designers will begin to take their cues from the restaurant industry and target their clientele more specifically. There will be very expensive and elegant casinos, moderately expensive casinos, budget casinos, mom ‘n’ pop casinos and various ethnic casinos. The games offered will follow suit, and in any given casino, the game inventory will attempt to address the demographically tailored clientele.

3. Providing more games of skill. Traditionally, casino games have been high on the luck end of the continuum and low on the skill side. Look for that balance to shift. The electronic world has generated increasing numbers of skill games and skill gamers. The casino of the future will feature skill “matches” between any game’s most notorious players. Watching great gamers (for a price) and perhaps betting on the outcomes will be a growing way in which customers can play.

“The physical casino space itself as we know it today will have to adapt with the rapidly changing technology,” states Brett Ewing, a partner with Thalden • Boyd • Emery Architects. “Finishes, lighting (even daylight), and sound will need to coordinate and complement the games of the future. The idea of utilizing interior design to increase financial performance should not be revolutionary.”

Tomorrow is Coming Today
We are barely at the dawn of a new vision for gaming. Change is coming, and not in 10 or 20 years—it’s right around the corner

Change brings opportunity, and with it comes challenges and innovation. The casino of the future will be exciting. Acres simply adds, “There will be things that I can’t even dream of … and they’ll be here sooner than anybody thinks.”

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