U.S. Land-Based Casinos Need To Adjust To Growth Of Online Gaming

December 12, 2022
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A senior executive with Boyd Gaming believes internet gaming is the key to the future of the casino industry and disagreed with arguments that offering online or mobile slot machines and table games will hurt brick-and-mortar business.

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A senior executive with Boyd Gaming believes internet gaming is the key to the future of the casino industry and disagreed with arguments that offering online or mobile slot machines and table games will hurt brick-and-mortar business.

“For us, bridging the two together is important to us moving forward,” Blake Rampmaier, senior vice president and chief information officer with Boyd, told legislators and state regulators on Friday (December 9) during a panel discussion on the future of casinos at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) meeting in Las Vegas.

Rampmaier said Boyd does not see in the data that there is a degradation of revenue in brick-and-mortar casinos; in fact, if anything, online gaming enhances the casino operator's land-based business.

Boyd Gaming operates land-based casinos in 12 states, along with internet gaming in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The company also operates 11 casinos in southern Nevada. Last month, Boyd completed the acquisition of online gaming platform operator Pala Interactive.

“We see customers play online in Pennsylvania coming to Valley Forge. We see them coming in just as often and maybe spending a little more,” Rampmaier said. “It’s an additional revenue stream for us. We are very pleased with that.”

He said Boyd’s retail and mobile sports-betting business continues to progress in the states where it operates, and again the company would consider it an additional revenue stream.

“Quite frankly. We see our revenue increasing at these brick-and-mortar properties as these opportunities have become legal,” he added. “It helps bring them in.”

When asked by VIXIO GamblingCompliance what it will take for Nevada to expand beyond internet poker and join the six other states that legalized full-internet gaming, Rampmaier said “more communication and more partnerships, and quite frankly a better understanding of what the industry faces within this state.”

“So I don’t have a magic bullet answer for you on this,” he added. “If I did, I would give it to you. This state is an anomaly.”

Rampmaier was joined for the hour-long discussion by: Stacey Rowland, vice president and general counsel with Genting Americas Inc.; June Taylor, chair of the Ohio Casino Control Commission; and Delegate Shawn Fluharty, a Democrat from West Virginia.

Rowland agreed with Rampmaier, saying the loss of customers at land-based facilities is a concern to many casino operators as internet gaming and sports betting grows in the U.S., but she does not believe that to be true.

“You have to keep up with the times,” Rowland said. “We have to modernize with the rest of the world.”

She stressed that land-based casinos, including Genting's Resorts World Las Vegas, want to drive customers to the casino floor but the industry must realize that it has a different kind of customer than it used to.

“You have a consumer who wants more than a table game or slot machines. They want to eat; they want to listen to music. They want to stay in a hotel with all the amenities, not just a place to sleep and gamble.”

Resorts World Las Vegas was the first ground-up resort to be built on the Las Vegas Strip in more than a decade when it opened for business in June 2021. The $4.3bn property was built on the Stardust Resort and Casino site that closed in 2007.

Genting Malaysia Berhad, which owns the Las Vegas resort, also operates Resorts World New York video-lottery facility in Queens. The company is expected to bid for one of three New York licenses to operate a full-gaming resort at a cost of at least $500m for a license.

Resorts World, Bally’s Corporation, Hard Rock International, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have all expressed an interest in acquiring a casino license in New York.

“We are waiting for the three licenses that are going to be issued to operate full casinos,” Rowland said. “We understand the request for applications (RFA) from the New York State Gaming Commission will come out in January. Advocates have 60 days to reply.

“Then we will do what everyone else will do and that is sit by the phone and wait,” she added. “We are ready. We have proven to be a great partner.”

Fluharty, who moderated the discussion, reminded the panelists that they were in a room with state lawmakers and asked what would they advise if those lawmakers are considering passing iGaming or sports betting.

“Pass it now,” Boyd's Rampmaier said. “It strengthens the business and obviously your tax revenues. It strengthens the customer experience. We have to provide the customer with more exciting opportunities as a customer experience.”

He urged regulators and legislators to help put the industry on the same footing as other industries by making sure that casino operators can offer easier, accessible and more enjoyable entertainment for customers.

“I would suggest you try to do this as soon as possible,” Rampmaier said.

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