New England will quickly start to look like the Strip in Las Vegas - a casino on every block, each bigger, better, more entertaining than the competition. We are not there yet, but the scene will be very lively in three to five years.
We currently have the big boys in Connecticut – Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun and slots in Rhode Island at Twin River. Already the activities in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania and New York State have impacted the Connecticut casinos, but neighboring Massachusetts has some loaded dice ready to roll in a couple of years with three casinos to be built, as well as a slot parlor. Even New Hampshire is talking casinos now (why have all that good Granite State money flow to the Bay State?). The gaming dance floor will be something to watch, as each party looks to entice from a finite audience. What will tempt me to bypass Casino A, dismiss Casino B and move me to spend my money at Casino C? What differentiation will bring a casino that motivated distinction? It will all be based upon facility, product and service.
Competition elevates the best efforts. According to CEO of Foxwoods, Scott Butera, his casino, which is 100 miles from Boston, has until late 2016 to ready itself for a new wave of competition from Bay State gambling resorts. His plans, as noted in a Boston Globe article of December 27, 2012, have Foxwoods “…expanding with a new outlet mall, remodeling parts of its existing $3 billion complex, and stepping up its marketing”.
Mr. Butera knows he will take a financial hit, but his casino does have a few years to engender some loyalty. Many will visit the new casinos, more so out of curiosity. But, after those initial visits, where will players decide to frequent if each choice has basically the same games? As has been shown across the US, where casinos have begun to morph into full destinations, the location with the best package (dining, spas, entertainment, recreation and shopping) will probably win the draw and the traffic. As Severio Scheri, CEO of WhiteSand Gaming, a consulting firm, noted, it may boil down to compelling reasons to visit a particular casino. “Some customers can be persuaded to drive further for more interesting restaurants and entertainment, a greater confidence that the facility is safe, and superior customer service.”
The successful operators will have several systems at play to give them that edge. They will employ research to better know their players and guests, and, particularly, what they as a Casino are doing well and not so well. They will have high standards of performance, continuously monitored. Their security measures will be significant. Lastly, they will train to relationship building skills, recognizing that the rapport established by their employees will be critical for return visits and a greater spend. New England in the next few years will be a virtual laboratory, where, at least initially, the player and guest will be the winner, as the gaming market plays out.
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