Casinos should focus on younger demographic

casino 2Mississippi Business Journal – Forbes says Tilman Fertitta is worth $2.4 billion. He became a wealthy businessman by making smart decisions, being opportunistic and having a business-is-business attitude.

But even when the owner and CEO of Fertitta Entertainment walks into one of his three Golden Nugget casinos, one thing scares him — the changing landscape of the customers.

“One of my scariest things that is young people do not play slot machines,” said Fertitta, who was the keynote speaker kicking off last week’s Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi. “I go to all these places, it’s not young people playing slot machines.”

The overall industry concern is that Millennials are not as interested in the casino experience as baby boomers, which some see as contributing to the overall flatness in casino revenues.

“I think slot machine companies have done a good job of creating games for young people, but they want to play table games,” said Fertitta. “I can beat you x-number of times a year on table games, but I never get beat on slots.  And I think it’s a problem.

“At the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, in the nine years I’ve owned it, I think of how many of the older players who were huge slot players who have passed on — and that is scary to me.

“It’ll be interesting to see where we are in 20 years. It’ll be interesting to see we’re able to convert this new generation to slot players.”

“It’s still a very good business,” said Joel H. Simkins, a senior gaming analyst with Credit Suisse LLC. “But certain markets are suffering. When I talk to developers, it’s a core baby boomer demographic. We know these people are going to move on or spend less as they get older or develop health care issues.