Brick-and-Mortar Casinos Struggle To Court Millennials

casinos for millennials

There is a major crisis slowly brewing in the Nevada desert, and it looks to have implications for the rest of the United States in the years to come:

Millennials aren’t going to casinos.

In October at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, UNLV director of hospitality Robert Rippee hosted a presentation on the subject. In it, he discussed the problems that legitimate casinos face in attracting reliable repeat business from the next generation.

Rippee contends that the industry as a whole is missing the mark, with casino operators unified in their belief that – so far – they’ve been unable to profitably gain a foothold in the Millennial milieu.

“We see [Millennials] walk through our casino floor, and the stereotype is that they’re walking across the casino floor to go to the nightclub. So they’re doing a good job of building nightclubs and chaotic types of experiences that employ some of those features, but when it comes to the other elements that traditionally have defined a casino resort, it’s been problematic.”

How Can Casinos Attract Millennials?

Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Rippee believes that the answer to courting Millennials effectively may lie in another (more recent) Vegas mainstay: the Electric Daisy Carnival, or EDC.

The world’s largest electronic dance music (EDM) festival, the flagship EDC event has been held in Sin City every year since 2011, attracting upwards of 400,000 attendees annually.

According to Rippee, the EDC resonates with Millennials because of its focus on loud music, varied food options, social media sharing, laser light shows, and more, all contained in a venue on a gigantic scale.

Says Rippee of the EDC:

“It’s lots of different things. So what EDC tells me as a successful effort toward a younger generation is chaos. There are lots of things happening simultaneously that they make sense out of it and interpret it as experience and fun.”

As gambling hotspots continue to struggle to attract a more youthful clientele, they have to balance the needs of their current customers, as well. Nobody, for example, is turning the Bellagio gaming floor into a circus sideshow.

And while some outfits are spending a mint on market research to solve the conundrum – Caesars is building a technological testbed (in this case, an endeavor called Black Fire Innovation) to sort out potential avenues of interest – it may all be for naught.

Why Millennials Don’t Go To Casinos

There is, perhaps, a more straightforward reality to consider, and that’s that Millennials simply aren’t interested in patronizing brick-and-mortar gambling venues, whether those are in Las Vegas or anywhere else.

There are a few key reasons why Millennials and their modern connected lifestyles don’t lend themselves well to the traditional casino experience.

Firstly, Millennials live a mobile-first lifestyle. If something can’t be done conveniently on a smartphone or tablet, it will likely fall by the wayside.

Because of the Interstate Wire Act (1961), the gambling industry is already largely handcuffed in the breadth of its online service potential, with every venue’s Internet offerings geofenced to the state in which it operates.

This defies the logic of the borderless Millennial social culture, and it makes such gambling services unattractive to them.

Indeed, to date, there are only three states that offer traditional online casino gaming (though the pastime is pending in a couple of others): Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

In states that have legal sports betting, those without an online component are universally failing to meet revenue expectations, while those that offer online betting see more than 80 percent of their business derive from that market.

The second issue that brick-and-mortar casinos face in attracting Millennials is that – outside of “events” – these folks live in a virtual world. While this ties into the mobile-first lifestyle mentioned above, it goes further than that.

For example, the most popular casino on the planet is the Diamond Casino & Resort. Millennials patronize the Diamond Casino in droves, to the tune of millions of players per day!

But the Diamond Casino & Resort isn’t a real place – it’s part of a video game. And the money users spend, while real, doesn’t pay out in real-world currency.

How a physical casino can hope to compete with Grand Theft Auto or NBA 2K or countless other mobile apps and the overarching “loot box” culture seems to be an insoluble puzzle.

Perhaps if the Wire Act is overturned, casino brands can bring compelling, real-money virtual experiences into the home via mobile, computer, console, or VR.

That will eventually happen.

In fact, legitimate offshore casinos – unbound by the archaic and counterproductive Wire Act and other federal laws like the UIGEA – will likely lead the industry to that point.

But even that, of course, won’t solve the biggest problem of all:

Millennials just don’t have any money.

California Cardroom Scandal Proves Online Poker Is Safer?

postle poker cheat

While online casinos and poker rooms have long had a comparatively undeserved reputation for being a bastion of frauds and cheaters, one of the biggest scandals in the industry is unfolding at a major California-regulated cardroom.

Stones Gambling Hall, located in Citrus Heights, CA, is currently the setting of a major poker scandal, as a joint $30 million lawsuit has been filed by 24 players.

According to the suit, professional poker player Mike Postle was the main benefactor of the scheme, which saw the player receive information about his competitors’ hole cards during several different Stone Live Poker events.

The allegations further accuse a heretofore unnamed accomplice of Postle working in the cardroom’s employ. The task of this individual, according to the suit, was to use the livestream’s RFID card-identifying system to effectively tell Postle what cards his opponents had.

As a result, Postle was able to string together a series of improbable wins over several tournaments.

Per the lawsuit, the wins themselves have been analyzed, and they defy rational probability. The text of the suit lays out the boldness of the scheme, with analysis showing

“statistics not only unfathomable in the world of professional poker, but, too, situation decision-making in which almost every so-called guess to be made by Mr. Postle is done so in a manner that optimally benefits his monetary interest.

In short, Mr. Postle’s poker winnings – considered in the prism of both metrics and hand-for-hand decision making – on Stones Live Poker have been not merely outliers but, in fact, exponential outliers, representing a quality of play multiple degrees higher than that achieved by the best poker players in the world.”

Postle’s suspected accomplice has not been named, but according to Casino.org, those bringing the suit have a good idea of who the defendant – currently referred to as John Doe 1 – actually is.

The plaintiffs are holding off on publicly naming the suspect, “cognizantly refraining from making such an allegation…until further information can be gleaned through the discovery process.”

In addition to the case against Postle, the lawsuit is also taking a position against Stones Gambling Hall on the grounds that John Doe 1 was employed by the venue and was instrumental in the scheme.

Even more damning for the card room, the plaintiffs have accused the California venue of systematically rejecting player complaints about Postle’s potential cheating while at the same time promoting the player in question – and his ill-gotten “skills” – in various marketing materials.

Consequently, the suit alleges fraud on the part of Justin Kuraitis, the Stones Gambling Hall poker room manager, as well as gross negligence on the part of the cardroom itself.

While Postle is alleged to have earned roughly $250,000 through the scheme, the plaintiffs in the case are seeking damages of $10 million apiece from Postle, the Stones Gambling Hall, and Kuraitis.

One of the bloggers who covered (or rather, uncovered) this story is Doug Polk, who runs a YouTube channel and website dedicated to poker tips and strategies. Polk offers a compelling play-by-play breakdown of Postle’s difficulties when he wasn’t privy to all of his opponents’ hole cards.

In the grand scheme, poker cheats are not unusual. As long as there has been gambling, there has been fraud. In the early days of online poker, a few notable scandals event threatened to break the industry.

In 2007, Absolute Poker’s POTRIPPER scandal made waves, as did another scandal at a site called UltimateBet, care of disgraced poker pro Russ Hamilton. And, of course, such fraud isn’t limited to poker.

In 2004, Realtime Gaming (RTG), one of the most respected fair play software designers on the Internet, were allegedly cheated out of $1.3 million by a Caribbean 21 player using an outlawed automated playing program.

However, it’s been over a solid decade since there’s been a major scandal – or even the hint of a major scandal – at any legitimate offshore casino site, while domestic operators seem to have found no real reprieve.

While this alone won’t necessarily convince potential players that the online model is better (or sway purists who insist on the live human element when it comes to poker), it’s certainly worth considering that just because a system is online-only, that doesn’t mean it’s inherently more susceptible to fraud.

In fact, given the pace of technological development and the cottage market of watchdogs that have sprung up to police offshore sites for fair play compliance, it’s possible that – going forward – you’ll always get the fairest shake online.

Indiana Online Sports Betting Launches In Time For MLB Playoffs

indiana mobile betting draftkings

Indiana legalized sports betting on May 8, 2019, allowing the practice to take place at any of the state’s 13 riverboat casino venues. Less than four months later, on September 1, the first wagers were accepted.

Now, online sports betting is finally in play, too.

On Thursday, right in time for the heart of the NFL season and the start of the 2019 MLB playoffs, Indiana casinos were formally enabled to offer their gambling patrons betting odds over the Internet.

Though the approval for online gambling was in the text of SB 552 passed earlier this year, it’s taken several months for Indiana to set up a regulatory rubric to oversee that aspect of the industry.

Fortunately, it’s been worth the wait, as Indiana’s mobile betting situation appears to be reasonably customer friendly. While some states require bettors to be on the physical premises of a given gaming venue to participate in their mobile betting options, Indiana law allows for bettors to wager from anywhere in the state.

The typical KYC (Know Your Customer) and geo-fencing hurdles are in play in Indiana, with the latter being in line with the Interstate Wire Act of 1961.

In order to use online betting apps, Indiana customers will have to prove that they’re at least 21 years old and are physically located inside the state’s borders. Luckily, the technology for this is reasonably mature and shouldn’t be a hindrance to the rollout of the industry.

Currently, all of the established Indiana casinos are planning to offer mobile sports betting apps, but book launches will be staggered. The bigger companies, like DraftKings and Rush Street Gaming, are first in line.

Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive, explained that the company’s primary goal is to attract Indiana-based bettors.

The vast majority of [Rush Street] marketing will be targeted to people within the state who are going to have access to begin playing with us as soon as they’re interested.

But thanks to the reach of mobile, that audience might extend to gamblers in nearby cities outside of Indiana, like Cincinnati and Chicago. Sports bettors from these areas could simply drive across the border into Indiana, use their chosen books’ apps to verify their locations, and place wagers freely.

As Indiana is the first state to offer sports wagering in the Midwest, their mobile implementation should attract this outside clientele. After all, such is the case in New Jersey, and there’s no reason the model won’t see a successful parallel in Indiana.

That said, mobile sports betting is just a small piece of the puzzle.

All of Indiana’s casinos intend to offer online sports betting eventually, but one thing they can’t offer any time soon is legal online casino gaming or poker.

Many industry analysts view these latter pastimes as the real reasons behind the rise in domestically regulated Internet-based sports wagering, as traditional gambling has a much higher margin.

By successfully offering online sports betting, Indiana hopes to convince its legislators to draft rules for and approve online casino gaming. It’s a long-haul proposition, but with Thursday’s developments, Indiana is well on its way.

Nevertheless, it could be years before Indiana and most other states offer their own legitimate online casinos. The barriers are higher, and regulators are far more wary of digital slots and table games than they are of sports betting.

As is commonplace in the context of US gambling laws, however, Indiana legislators have not addressed external competition in structuring their state statutes. For example, despite legalizing land-based and domestic online sports betting, Indiana did not simultaneously bar offshore casino gambling or sports wagering.

The logistics of doing so are possibly prohibitive, but until the state is able to keep all Indiana betting inside Indiana, local venues and online operations will continue to lose out to bigger and better options offshore.

Today, if you want to wager on sports online in the Hoosier State, you can do so with a local provider. However, if you want to enjoy any other kind of casino or cardroom action, you’ll need to see what the unregulated market has to offer.

And right now, that unregulated market is much bigger and much better.

2K Games Takes Down NBA 2K20 MyTeam Trailer With Illegitimate Casino

NBA 2K20 prize wheel

Upon initially viewing the newest trailer for NBA 2K20, it’s easy to mistake one of the world’s most popular basketball video game franchises for a new online casino.

The flashing neon lights, daily bonuses, slot machines, pachinkos, prize wheels, and unique theme—basketball in this case—are routinely part of the pomp and circumstance whenever a new legitimate online casino launches in either the U.S. or international gambling market.

Except this is a basketball game; not a casino game.

And with marketing directed at anyone who’s at least three years old and up—indicated by the PEGI 3 rating—it’s a far cry from a legit casino.

Due to the backlash on YouTube, which garnered 3K likes and 11K dislikes on the U.S. channel and a staggering 212 likes to 26K dislikes on the U.K. channel, 2K Games took down the Las Vegas-style gambling “MyTeam” trailer.

However, the damage had already been done, and YouTubers—like YongYea, who frequently covers the latest video game industry news—were quick to inform the public of 2K Games and Take-Two Interactive, the game publishers parent company, of the asinine decision made by the Triple-A video game giants to include literal gambling in a basketball game for 3-year-olds.

The trailer is now unlisted, but here is YongYea watching the video and breaking down each of the NBA 2K20’s new gambling features.

The main reason for why this is illegitimate gambling stems from the randomized number generator (RNG) mechanic commonly found more and more in video games known as the “loot box.”

Card packs—the loot box mechanic in the NBA 2K series MyTeam mode—allow players to create a fantasy-like team from collecting cards of real-life NBA players. Gamers can then compete against each other’s fantasy basketball teams in online multiplayer matches.

These cards can be earned slowly just by playing the game or more importantly, the grind can be completely skipped if you’re willing to shell out the cash.

And there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the player you want, and card drop rates for top players, like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or Stephon Curry, have been extremely low in the past with estimates being in the 0.1% to 2% range.

Despite all legitimate and regulated brick-and-mortar and online casinos clearly displaying the odds of winning and payout rate on RNG-based gambling games, such as slot machines, the video game industry is finally requiring these companies to inform players of their chances thanks to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

But that’s far from the biggest issue.

The ESRB, the video game rating board in the United States, clearly states on its site that games with “gambling with real currency” should receive an Adults Only 18+ rating.

With digital currency being purchasable with real money and the game clearly featuring literal slot machines, pachinko, and prize wheels that accept digital currency, one must ask:

Why did NBA 2K20 receive an E for Everyone rating?

Some have pointed out that because you can’t “cash-out” of these loot box video games, it can’t be considered gambling.

Fair point, but doesn’t that make it worse? At least—if your age 18 to 21 depending on the jurisdiction—you can win money when gambling at a casino or sportsbook.

And with that in mind, let’s call the loot box by what it really is: Theft.

What you’re paying for is a digital good, whether it be a player card or cosmetic shoes for said player, that will be worthless when NBA 2K21 is inevitably released next year.

These items contain no value after a year, and it could be argued that they don’t contain any value right from the start because there is no payout option.

NBA 2K20 and any other game that uses loot boxes have essentially created a black hole that entices players, most of whom simply want to play a fun basketball video game, to chuck money into it in the hopes of getting a competitive advantage online.

Fortunately, there is some good news: The black hole may soon be closed.

The lawmakers at the federal level of the U.S. government are now looking into the issue, and the U.S. Senate has introduced a bill to classify loot boxes as gambling.

The big game companies will fight and attempt to lobby there way out of this mess, but with our nation’s children targeted in the marketing, it’d be hard to imagine them weaseling out of this one—especially when illegitimate casino games are on full display in a basketball game made for everyone ages 3 and up.

Michigan Set to Become Fifth State to Legalize Online Gambling

MI players getting ready for online gambling

The country is one signature away from seeing a fifth state legalize online gambling.

Michigan is on track to do just that after the Michigan Legislature ended the 2018 legislative session with a last-minute vote to approve the Lawful Internet Gaming Act earlier this week.

HB4926 was passed by the Senate with a vote tally of 33-5 and was followed by a House vote that passed 71-35.

If passed, the online gambling bill would legalize casino games such as slots, baccarat, blackjack, and poker to offered online within state lines by licensed operators.

The bill also contains language that could potentially pave the way for the state to legalize sports betting in the future – most likely coming during the 2019 legislative session.

Now, it only needs the signature from GOP Gov. Rick Snyder to become law. If signed into law, Michigan would become the fifth state in the country to legalize online gambling, joining Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

However, many state lawmakers wonder whether Gov. Snyder will sign the bill since it is attached to the state’s $1.3 billion budget bill and there are several bills the Michigan governor has yet to sign.

Most of the bill’s criticism isn’t to do with online gambling but with the redirection of revenue from school aid to roads and “other priorities.”

If the governor does not sign the bill – and before he is succeeded by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in January – the process will start over and people in Michigan will have to wait longer for online gambling to be available within the state.

Under the current version of the bill, both commercial and tribal gambling operators in Michigan will be allowed to apply for online gambling licenses.

The licenses will be issued by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and cost $200,000 for five years along with a $100,000 renewal fee.

Michigan will tax 8 percent of gross gambling revenue, and the three commercial USA casinos within the state will pay an additional 1.25 percent tax to Detroit. When online sports betting passes in Michigan, the same tax rate will be applied to approved operators.

Online gambling tax revenue generated within the state allocates 55 percent to the state fund, 35 percent to the city fund where the licensee intends to operate, 5 percent to the state school fund, 5 percent to the Michigan Transportation Fund, and 5 percent (up to $3 million) will be directed the state’s agriculture equine industry development fund to support horse racing.

There is no timetable for when the Michigan Gaming Control Board will begin the process of reviewing applicants for online gambling licenses.

However, if the bill does eventually pass, with or without Gov. Snyder, Michigan’s population will bring the total to 10 percent of all people in the United States that will have access to state-licensed online gambling.