This time last year, industry commentators were sounding the death knell for casino businesses. Sure, the hot spots like Las Vegas, Monte Carlo and Macau would always recover, but for the smaller provincial casinos, things looked bleak.
Not only had they been forced to close their doors, but they saw loyal customers head into cyberspace in their droves, lapping up the free spin bonuses and special promotions being touted by the online casino platforms. It seemed inevitable that many would not return.
Now, with the world more or less settled back into normality, the majority of land-based casinos are reporting steady recovery. In part, that’s due to the fact that staring at a screen from your armchair is never going to be the same as a night out at the casino.
But also, casino operators did not spend the lockdown period sitting on their hands and panicking. Jakob Rothwangl, the Global VP of Sales at Novomatic, explained that many used this period of enforced inactivity to “proactively realign their gaming offer.” For some, this involved bringing forward renovation works and upgrades that would otherwise have required full or partial closures. For others it meant focusing on their own online footprint to retain as many customers as possible.
The point, said Mr Rothwangl, is that despite their traditional appearance, land based casinos are constantly evolving with the times like any other business. In particular, there are three angles that they are exploring to stay relevant in the 21st century world.
Adding variety to meet the online challenge
One of the most common complaints levelled at land based casinos is the lack of choice compared with their online competitors. When you only have so many square feet, you can only fit in so many cabinets, tables and terminals.
Compare that with the lure of online casinos. It is little surprise that so many Americans are tempted to gamble online in the USA instead of at land based facilities when the online casinos are offering hundreds of slot games and dozens of different table games ranging from casino classics to TV game show formats.
The latest cabinets, however, can store an increasing number of games. Furthermore, electronic table games (ETGs) can effectively achieve the same thing, providing a way for land based casinos to offer more than just blackjack, roulette and three card poker, adding new table games such as Caribbean stud poker and different baccarat variations.
Payment and withdrawal options
At most land based casinos, cash remains king, even for quite sizeable wins. Many might say that is a plus – who doesn’t like cash? However, when you go to the cashier and feel all those eyes on you as you collect a big bundle of banknotes then head out to a badly illuminated parking lot at 2AM, you might think differently.
In short, many land-based casinos are upgrading their financial systems to facilitate alternative ways to disburse winnings. This is something that their online casino counterparts have been doing for years.
Focusing on the experience
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Most important of all though is a point we touched on earlier. The sights, sound, smells and general experience of being in a lively casino with friends cannot be fully replicated online. When it comes down to it, the most important thing casinos can do to thrive is to offer guests a great experience. Perhaps things have not changed quite so much in the 2020s after all.