Friday, December 12, 2014

Is Sports Betting the next gaming revenue stream?

Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA has come out with a stance that the public has been waiting for. He stated in an open letter to the New York Times that it was time to embrace sports betting and change the laws that prohibit Americans from doing so. The social acceptance of gaming  has prompted this position. A poll conducted by the Seton Hall Sports Poll on Legalizing Sports Betting  concluding on Wednesday Nov. 19, cites that the vast majority, 72%-20%, agreed with him that gambling has become a popular form of entertainment.

This come at a time when states are in dire need of revenue. For instance, at least 44 states and the District of Columbia have reduced overall wages paid to state workers by laying off workers, requiring them to take unpaid leaves, freezing new hires, or similar actions. State and local governments have eliminated over 380,000 jobs since August 2008, federal data show. Such measures are reducing not only the quality of services available to state residents but also the purchasing power of workers’ families, which in turn affects local businesses and slows recovery.
Sports betting is an activity that is being conducted on line in homes throughout the country illegally. If not electronically, then via telephone or face to face with a bookmaker.  The above mention activities do not generate any tax revenue. They are not secure either. A site could conveniently close on you while they owe you money. The bookie could discontinue taking your action. But if I wager with an established betting parlor, I am guaranteed to get my money . The rules of accountability apply to everyone. The league gains due to the increase interest in the game.

Halftime,in game wagers and prop bets would raise NBA toward NFL popularity. Okay, I am excited  but you get my point. Creating interest in the game makes people watch. If you have a wager you will tune in. The wider the fan base, the larger the audience. Marketing and advertisements increase their spend.
2015 AttendanceHomeRoadOverall
22Pacers9   143,50215,94487.8   11     18,379   94.9     20      17,283      91.8
The fans may decide to go to more games and attendance goes up.
All from the possibility of making a bet on a game. It's being done in Europe without any problems. It's done in Nevada without difficulty. Read David Weinberg's article in the Press of Atlantic City. I love his analogy comparing wagering in two casinos. So why not here?
Silver said he plans to speak to Congress. Are they prepared to listen?
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Friday, December 5, 2014

What works in 2015 Gaming?

I am seeing a shift in what works with gaming entertainment. I've watched the operation side go  from build it and they'll come to less is now more. Atlantic City is the perfect example. They are expecting an increase in revenue numbers. This is due to the remaining casinos accommodating their former competitor's customers.
October's casino numbers did not bear this out. Casino revenues were $197.7 million, down compared to $216.9 million in October 2013. The casinos cut those losses in half, however, with another $9.5 million in online gaming revenues that did not yet exist in Oct. 2013. Of the latter figure, $2M of that was from online poker.
The amount of money in play decreased and the market did not grow. There are less rooms and parking spots available.  The cost of parking and rooms will  inevitably go up. This is not the recipe for attracting conventions and long term stays at the shore.
The new rules for gambling in America are different from the late 90's and early 2000's. Two rules are in play for me. Engage your customer. Not just when he/she gambles. Interact with the entertainment information they show interest in. The second rule is brand with the taste of the customer. If the customers likes Starbucks, provide them with specials that they can obtain through you. This not only helps you, but now Starbucks gives you a play as well.  The new rules encompasses food and beverage and events targeting millennials. These are two avenues that can bring new and former customers in.

Expect a new look in Connecticut
Foxwoods is making a move in this direction. In 2015, they are downsizing the casino product and looking for more revenue from the non gaming side. Boyd Gaming Corp. told investors in August it planned to change out a few of the restaurants and other nongaming attractions inside several of the company’s area casinos to boost overall revenue. This week, Borgata Casino announced details.
A $13 million dollar property-wide renovation is taking place over the next several months. Improvements include a complete redesign of the Borgata Buffet, renovations to Spa Toccare, the casino floor, front desk, suites, and back-of-the-house areas.
These types of plans have been met with success along the Las Vegas Strip, but have been slow to be embraced by regional markets. In a future post, I'll provide more insight that will help you grow your market share. Some innovative ways that will work without spending your entire budget are coming. Also,learn more about online gaming and how it can shape your future entertainment experiences.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Philly's 2nd Casino License: The Odds

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is holding a meeting Tuesday in Philadelphia to decide about the 2nd gaming license. The 4 remaining applicants are awaiting this decision. The existing 4 operators are also concerned. Market conditions indicate that gaming revenue is not at a premium on the east coast. But the board has the final say in this.  So I decided to set  a betting line as to who the odds favor in this process.
Philly Live has an impressive track record(Maryland Live). Live has partnered with Parx Casino and both have strong numbers in their respective markets. Great location near stadiums. They will have a synergy with Xfinity Live. A existing hotel site in place. 2-1

Casino Revolution has a location near the stadiums and is accessible to major highways. I-95 and Delaware Avenue come to mind. They have plans to develop an amusement park that will cater to families. They state they can open faster than any other applicant (15 to 18 months). 3-1

Market Eight has the development of the center city Gallery area to draw on. Major stores that cater to millennials are part of this renaissance. This group has the most disposable income.  Easy access by public transportation. They are located near major hotels and the convention center. 4-1
The Provence has the most original design of the 4. They plan to have a international flavor to their casino. Note the name. They 'll have a spa and world class restaurants. This will appeal to the business clientele that surrounds them in the heart of center city. 4-1

The Board could also differ a decision until 2015 when Governor -elect Tom Wolf can weigh in. They are politically appointed and able to vote without responding to the influence from the governor's office. 7-1
The Gaming Board could also look at the state of gaming on the east coast and feel that the region is not ready for another casino. This would maintain the balance that currently exist. Each existing operator has it's own niche. Harrah's Philly has the Total Reward brand that works nationally. Parx and Valley Forge have the outlying areas of Philadelphia and the suburbs to draw from. SugarHouse Casino has the prime location and is approximately 10 minutes away from center city. 
                                   Odds of not granting a license to anyone. Even Money.

          You can't bet these propositions anywhere but you can talk about them everywhere.
                                              What do you think will happen?

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Gaming in Pennsylvania: Where do we go from here?

The election is over. Governor-elect Tom Wolf will be sworn in January 2015. He inherits a state that is in need of cash for a myriad of problems.

Where will that money come from?  I'm a betting man so I'm looking at gambling. Not for me but for Pennsylvania. I see two potential options for 2015.

One is the gaming license that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is mulling over for Philadelphia. The applicants are vying for it and willing to provide tax revenue and jobs. The closing of several casinos in Atlantic City has many insiders thinking that another license may saturate the Philadelphia market. That is not the view of Casino Revolution, Market 8, Live! and Provence. It should be noted that Wynn Philadelphia and Hollywood withdrew their bids.

They all feel they can make it work without  totally cannibalizing  the 3 casinos that are presently in operation. The economic impact will primarily effect Philadelphia and not the entire Commonwealth. I'll go into detail about the viability of expanding the market in a future post. You can get updates through the process by joining the PGCB mailing list.

The second option is to explore online gaming from all aspects. Poker and Table Games come to mind. The model in New Jersey shows that there is a demand to play online. That demand is slowly manifesting toward being a 200 million dollar business within the next 18 months.
Poker alone will not bring in enough revenue to merit implementation. Nevada's online poker’s best month this year was June, when the revenue exceeded $1 million. This was largely due to the World Series of Poker. The live event prompted an influx of online players. Experts say the game would be more popular and lucrative if Nevadans could legally gamble online with pools of players from other states.
Poker Only Model

I think the online line approach is more feasible. It creates jobs, tax revenue and more importantly, levels the playing field amongst the existing casinos. New Jersey was able to get ramped up and start gaming online in less than a year. Pennsylvania could do the same thing. 

Due to a larger population and site possibilities to play, we could exceed the 200 million I quoted earlier in New Jersey in half the time. An extensive report was submitted to the Pennsylvania legislature by  Econsult  and it supports this theory. The revenue from online gaming could cure a lot of problems in the areas of social services and education.

Where do you think we should go?  Share your thoughts on gaming in Pennsylvania by following me.
Learn more about online gaming and how it can shape your future entertainment experiences.
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Friday, October 31, 2014

SugarHouse Casino Poker Room: Countdown at the River

SugarHouse Casino is expanding into the world of Poker. As you read this, the management team of Rush Street Gaming is working toward the opening of the 1st Poker Room in Philadelphia.
Rosemarie Cook: VP of Casino Operations

SugarHouse’s casino and poker team is led by Rosemarie Cook. Mrs. Cook holds the title of Vice President of Casino Operations. She has recruited some of the strongest poker managers in this region. This team includes Raye Ramsey; Director of Poker Operations. Raye is assisted by three  managers, Magdalena Gonzalez, John Qualtieri and Norman Remilev.
 John, Raye and Magdalena

I was granted an all access interview to each member of the aforementioned group as they work feverously to bring poker to the 5th largest city in the country. Here are some of their responses.
What are the main responsibilities of your position at SugarHouse? 
Raye - "I work closely with VP of Casino Operations to implement and oversee overall strategies for customer service, comping, games layout and mix, revenue growth,and expense management in order to maximize profitability. I am also responsible for the overall integrity of daily operations. I make sure that we model regulatory, departmental and company policies and procedures."
Please tell everyone your background in the poker industry?
Raye - "I worked on cruise ships as a dealer,opened the 1st poker room in Florida and was in Borgata's Poker Room for 10 years."
What type of limits can the players expect?
Raye - "Our limits will be dictated by the players. We plan to open with 10/20 and 20/40 Limit Holdem. We will also offer 2/4/6 and 4/8/12 Limit Holdem games." 
How experience is your staff?
Raye - "All of the supervisors and above have 10 years of experience or more. We have 50 experienced dealers from various poker rooms in the region."
Speaking of the managers. Is there a game (other than No Limit) you would love to see here?
Magdalena - "Pot Limit Omaha is really popular because it will bring in action between limit and no limit."
John - "I agree. Pot Limit Omaha will be a change of pace for Holdem players."
Norman - "I 'll go with 7 card stud. I am old school. LOL!"
The opening is just moments away and the employees are excited. As time goes on, how you'll keep them motivated?
John - "The management team will focus on being a positive influence and will lead by example. We will provide rewards and recognition as a tool to motivate."
Norman - This is not my 1st opening. I plan to get to know all the employees on a first name basis. I will give them intermediate goals and lead by example. If I groom them for success, I will prepare them to one day do my job." 
Compare the Poker play in a resort such as Atlantic City to an urban market like Philly.
John - "The biggest difference will be the times in which the volume of players change due to the majority of the local workforce schedule."
Magdalena - The difference is we are in a city that has more nightlife and cultural events. Many people enjoy poker and will be out and about. This will bring us many new players."
I was told that one of the shift managers has a unique connection to this property. Take this opportunity to share it with the readers.
Norman - "That would be me. I grew up right around the corner from here. My father worked here when it was the refinery for 36 years and I worked here for 3 while I was in high school and college. So I am happy that SugarHouse is back. Although it's back as a casino, this is great for the community and the city."
The vivid concept of the Poker Room came from Rose. What was your vision as you prepare to open the 1st poker room in Philadelphia?
SugarHouse Casino Poker Logo

Rose - "When I thought about a poker room for Philly, I wanted a clean, comfortable place with a vibrant feel to it. We want the room to have the conveniences of our main casino floor. This will be a fun, safe and community place to gather where people can play with their friends.
Tell me one of the nuisances of the room?
Rose - "The room has an exciting ambience to it. We call it our introductory Poker Room. It gives us a chance to introduce poker prior to our expansion."
Describe the room to the prospective players?
Rose -  We have state of the art tables with each seat having it's own charging station. We will have in seat service for dining. Our players can text or call for a seat. SugarHouse Guests can utilize The users of this app will be receiving the added benefit of text message updates regarding the status of players' reservations. During opening, we'll have gift bags for the first players that fill our seats.  
Have a seat.
What will Poker bring to SugarHouse?
Rose - "On a Saturday night, 5 guys in a car are looking for something to do. One of them is a poker player. They'll come to us. We'll have an additional amenity. Something new to offer our players as we move toward expansion. Woo Hoo!"
I want to thank everyone for their time and candid answers. Get more information about the events and promotions at SugarHouse Casino by following:

Happy Halloween Everybody
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Online Gaming and Poker

New York has expressed interest in the online gaming market. Poker is gaining support from legislators and casino lobbyists. This is not surprising. The state of New York sees the opportunity to capitalize on a growing appetite for gaming.

Poker is an established community where skill out weighs luck. Unlike slots or other casino games, Poker players can largely determine their fate. The game is socially acceptable with conservatives and is extremely popular.
If  New York is successful, poker could be part of the online landscape by 2015-16. This would allow
more quantified data of how things are working in the states that current offer an online experience.
New Jersey,Nevada and Delaware are the three states where you can game online. When you factor states like California and Pennsylvania into the mix of possible online gaming jurisdictions, instant
liquidity is obtain. The compact agreement between Delaware and Nevada could be modeled and include other interested parties. This would be no different than playing a national lottery game like Mega Millions where wagers are taken all over. You can play Mega Millions in 44 states plus the District of Columbia and the U. S. Virgin Islands. The odds of winning are just more favorable.

The online experience is the future of gaming. Poker is just the easy lift to get things started. When gaming first expanded into Pennsylvania, the intention was to only allow slot play. Delaware and West Virginia  did the same thing. When West Virginia offered table games, Delaware and Pennsylvania followed suit. Once Poker is introduced, the landscape will open up to other casino offerings.
A winning hand!
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Online Gaming and Sports Betting: Imagine That!

Just two more weeks to wait until a ruling out of New Jersey is rendered about Sports betting. If successful, the racetracks and casinos could be looking a jumpstart for the winter business. If Delaware is any indication, the public will gravitate to betting on sports in droves.
Delaware can only offer parlays on the NFL and has crowds every Sunday. Parlay cards have a high edge with one loss eliminating you. New Jersey wants to offer straight bets that are more appealing and easier to hit. They would require that you could bet on just one game. House advantage is about 4.5%. House advantage on a three team parlay in Delaware is 6.25%. Delaware also pays for 1 and not to 1,so your payout is diminished.
Imagine how this would enhance your gaming experience in New Jersey. On your commute home, you could stop at a racetrack or casino in the Garden State and bet on your favorite team. When I have a bet on a game, I have a vested interest and a reason to watch. So the choice between Scandal and Thursday Night Football is a no brainer.
Olivia Pope is now seen on Demand

Imagine if you could bet from your mobile device similar to Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. This brings the sports book right to you. You could get the line and act on it within seconds. When I bet in Nevada, I can enjoy doing something else at the same time. My dinner or show reservations are met and I can periodically check my phone for updates.
Imagine if you lived in Europe or the United Kingdom. You would not have to fantasize about sport betting because it's legal and already being done. They advertise on all mediums and are widely known. It hasn't change the integrity that is associated with the games wagered on and millions of dollars are bet everyday. Many of the same operators that are doing business there have set up franchises here. Some of the prominent operators are Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, GTECH ,Amaya and
William Hill.                   

                                                        They think it's time. Don't you?

Learn more about online gaming and how it can shape your future entertainment experiences. The Mobile and Tablet Gambling Summit in Atlantic City is taking place on 10/27 and 10/28. Click for details from I Gaming Business.
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