Tourism, gaming go hand-in-hand

May 15, 2007 1:43 AM

Every Sunday morning I read The Denver Post’s Travel section, where I invariably find among the exotic cruise specials and other "advertising features" a story on Deadwood, South Dakota.

I’ve written about Deadwood in this column before because it is "the other" limited stakes casino gaming market, and it offers a lot of paradigms that might be emulated by the Colorado casino towns.

For instance, the advertorial in the travel section is a prime example of something that Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek should be doing. First, the town and region is advertised as an entity, not as individual properties. Second, the advertisement is meant to attract customers that are not local/convenience gamers but regional/tourist players.

While Deadwood has seemed to position itself in the gaming market as not only a place to visit casinos but as a location for enjoying the regional attractions such as Mount Rushmore, Adam’s Museum, Mount Mariah Cemetery, and Kevin Costner’s Tatanka, Colorado’s approach of dogmatic individualism by the casinos seems to have somewhat stagnated this market.

But help may be on the way. Recently, a joint marketing fund has been set up to promote both the gaming and non-gaming activities (e.g., the town museum and the world class opera) in the area.

Similar to Atlantic City’s Special Improvement District Fund, the Colorado fund is a means to "tax" casinos pro rata for the general betterment and promotion of the area.

And in February of this year, a five person Black Hawk/Central City Business Improvement District (tax) allocation group was formed to offer a more cohesive community plan instead of the previous scenario, in which an individual casino’s marketing and advertising efforts was the driving force.

While the group’s working budget may seem small (especially in comparison with a destination like Las Vegas where the LVCVA has an annual budget of $271.9 million), for the scope of the towns, it is adequate.

The real problem has not been lacking a proverbial war chest, but finding individuals with respective property support willing to work on promoting a more holistic historic mining town experience. Realizing the positive net effects that this type of effort can produce for Black Hawk and Central City, I wish them the best of luck.

Founded in 1996, Yarborough Planning, LLC partners with select clientele to better understand and address business process issues. Core competencies include training, providing reliable and valid research, strategic/analytic marketing, and accountable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) development and implementation. David Paster may be reached at (702) 813-5062 or [email protected]