Get used to touch screen games in casinos

Several years ago, my wife and I were told that my son’s class would be the last one to know how to use a mouse. He was probably about six at the time and my first reaction was “WHAT?”

The next year’s class would learn on all touch screen devices which renders a mouse mostly useless. I couldn’t argue.

What I found so funny was that back at work in the casino industry, the electronic table games were still not widely accepted. There were pockets where they did better, but a lot of them were because the jurisdictions didn’t allow live games, either now or in the recent past.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This is probably true. In the past six months, we’ve discovered that desperation can be a great motivator too.

How many restaurants managed to revamp their take-out process and offerings in a matter of weeks back in March and April?  Quite frankly, while it was happening, I wondered why they were waiting until this crazy time to do it.

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A few places like the grocery stores already had some form of curbside pickup, but some of them made it absolutely painful. You’d find half of the items your ordered out of stock at the time of pickup or you’d wait 20 minutes even though there was only one other person waiting.

Back in February, I had to do one pickup order from the local grocery store. I couldn’t find the pickup area! I drove down three wrong dead ends in the parking light before I realized it was this dark area with ­almost no signs that I was supposed to park in. Now, that area is brightly lit with large signs and three times the number of parking spaces.

Casinos never bothered much with the electronic table games because the majority of the clientele are the older folks who really prefer playing live games. They like touching the chips and the cards. At the same time, they lamented that the next generation wasn’t coming into the casino. Games were being invented with the 60-year old in mind, figuring that sooner or later the 20-year olds would relent and play. But it just doesn’t work that way. I am more like my father’s generation than my millennial son is like mine.

A couple of years ago, that son came into town for the Global Gaming Expo. At the time, he was considering a startup in the gaming space. I dropped him off with some of his business partners at one of the casinos. They played Craps for a while and then went to one of the nightclubs where they proceeded to drink some pricey vodka.

In total, he probably came home with far less money than the average 60-year old who played at the tables the whole time. But, if you were to ask the casino manager which customer he would prefer to cater to, he’ll probably tell you the 60-year old.

At some point, casinos will have to realize that the next generation is not likely going to sit there for three, four or five hours playing table games (or the slots). They’ll play for an hour or two and then happily drop three times as much at a club. Stop fighting it and start embracing it.

In similar fashion, it is time to recognize that these same millennials probably care less whether they get to touch the chips or the cards. They have no problems with touch screens. They practically have their phones implanted into their hands. If you wanted to catch a millennial, you’ll have to use bait that will attract them, not their fathers and grandfathers.