Many industries have been digitally disrupted by new technology. Perhaps the most-quoted example is Netflix disrupting the industry of DVD/video rentals, which led to the closure of Blockbuster video stores – seemingly overnight. Other sectors have either had to sink or swim, revamping their business models lest they end up being replaced by a slicker tech-based rival.
And then there is the casino industry. There has, of course, been an online alternative to the traditional land-based casino industry for around 25 years now since the first internet casinos appeared. But you have to acknowledge that the physical sector hasn’t been disrupted in the sense of being replaced. Today, a trip to a casino resort in Canada or Las Vegas remains as attractive as it was 10, 20 or 50 years ago.
It is one of those curious things that the online casino industry and the land-based one tends to complement each other rather than be in direct competition. There is some overlap in terms of ownership, but not a huge amount. Both arms of the industry have boomed over the last decade, and both see growth potential in the 2020s.
Live games online have challenged the idea of casino
But why haven’t casino resorts gone the way of Blockbuster video stores? After all, we can access all the same games on our laptops and smartphones. In fact, you can get a better choice of games online. Moreover, there is also the opportunity to play real games like live blackjack with real dealers online. Everything you can find in a real casino can be found online. So, it seems strange that the land-based casino industry still has a bright future.
Perhaps the most compelling reason is that casino resorts offer many ‘auxiliary’ experiences that cannot be found online. If you have ever been on a flight to Las Vegas and chatted with some of the passengers, many are going to Sin City for other reasons: Pool parties, music shows and festivals, nightclubs, high-end restaurants, and so on.
Obviously, not every casino can offer the trappings of Las Vegas nightlife, but there is still a sense of occasion attached to going to a casino. In most cases, we dress up for the visit in an effort to look glamorous for glamorous surroundings. Even those casinos can be raucous, there is also a link to the world of the sophisticated – images of Monte Carlo and James Bond spring to mind.
Casino bosses can offer multi-faceted attractions
But most casinos find a way to ensure that not everything is about gambling. Good food and cocktails are among the most basic ways to get people in through the door, but the bigger resorts obviously have more weaponry in their armoury. Resort owners in Las Vegas will know that hosting an EDM festival will bring people to the city, and many of the revellers will partake in a few games of chance. The arrival of NHL and NFL teams in Las Vegas is just another draw to attract even more people to the resorts.
Casino resort bosses perhaps should not rest on their laurels, however. The transformation of online casinos through live games has been stunning, and it would be foolish to say that it won’t ‘disrupt’ casino resorts. Software developers are experimenting with everything from VR games to casino games that play like video games. The glamour of the casino resorts might still appeal, but things can change quickly.