America’s commercial casinos saw big declines for the second straight year last year. Overall, US casino revenue declined 5.5% nationwide last year to US $30.74 billion. That’s still a whole lot of revenue – but the trend is downward. The US recession has certainly played a part in this, but my guess is that this figure has also been eaten into by Macau’s transformation from a back street style gambling area into a VIP gambler’s paradise! If you’re an international player like myself, why fly all those miles to America to get security screened, x-rayed and treated like a criminal, when Asia is within a 6 hour flight for about 65% of the world’s population? Somehow I think the new casinos in Singapore will do well also, once they’ve had a chance to establish themselves. Genting Highlands in Malaysia is doing well. Asia is the new gambling mecca: it will continue to grow.
According to the official statistics, over a quarter of the American population gambled last year. But here’s the issue: they risked a lot less in each session. Over 40% of visitors to Atlantic City for example budgeted only $100 for their day stay in that market. That’s well down on previous years. Overall Atlantic City received 13.2% less gaming revenue than the year before. Nevada was down 10.4%. Pennsylvania casinos actually made 21.6% MORE revenue in the US last year, but most of that is probably because there were two new casinos opened in that state (there are now 9 in total).
I could claim that some of this USA casino revenue decline is because players have read my How To Beat The Casinos blog and know that you can make big gains from small stakes – but I suspect it’s more likely that these USA casino players have simply not got the same amount of money to play with as before. And maybe that’s a good thing. Casinos are ENTERTAINMENT, not investments, and so prioritising the payment of bills etc BEFORE gambling will always be something I will personally support.
I’ve written for a long time now about how casinos must constantly strive to provide good entertainment value for their customers. So many casinos seem to be “tightening the screws” these days, and I’ve definitely noticed that as a VIP player from the reduced comps I’m attracting – despite my bigger and higher level play. Casinos, if you keep on tightening your services, if competition continues to reduce as it has in Vegas (with Harrahs owning a large majority of the strip), and if your comps get worse from year to year, then don’t be surprised when your players no longer wish to play. Myself included. The deals online with free cash, great bonuses and the like are just TOO GOOD to justify us remaining in land based casinos. I wish almost daily that the US government would overturn the online gambling ban – as USA casino players could then benefit from the great casino offers online, just as the rest of us players can.
Casino marketers in the USA, follow this advice: Give better comps to your players, more free drinks, more free shows, better buffets and the likes to your players, and things might come right. Continue to be tight-fisted, bottom-line driven casino operators who treat your customers like dirt, and expect further revenue declines. The US casinos are no longer recession proof. Customers ARE voting with their wallets. Other casinos are gaining your customers. Act before its too late.