Casino CEO says gaming industry headed toward video game incorporation
By Tom Cicero
CEO of Rush Street Gaming Greg Carlin stopped by Roosevelt University to talk about his company and the state of the gambling business in the United States.
Carlin came to speak to Hospitality Professor Charles Hamburg’s class. Hamburg is a former associate of Carlin’s.
Rush Street Gaming was formed in 2009, but its history dates back as far as 1996, according to the company’s website. Carlin and a colleague first partnered in 1996 with Hyatt Gaming INC., which then formed Falls Management Company with the goal of pursuing the Niagara Falls Casino request for proposal in Canada.
Carlin began his presentation by stating, “Gaming has been popular since the founding of America. Americans like to gamble.”
He went on to talk about the growth of gambling, which saw an increase of 17 percent since 1988. Gambling now brings in approximately $65 million annually, Carlin said. That number has tapered off in recent years, however.
Carlin attested the increase to payroll taxes this year. He gave an example of someone who has around $5,000 in leisure money a year, and how that person’s leisure money may have decreased to around $2,000 this year. The decrease in leisure money is what has led to a decrease in gaming activity.
“Our casinos have been pretty flat this year,” Carlin said. “We’ve analyzed our database, and what we’ve learned is casinos are attracting less frequent, lower value customers. They are coming less to the casinos [and] they’re not spending as much at these casinos. If you think about the economy and what’s happening, it has had an impact on gambling this year.”
Carlin and Hamburg both used Las Vegas as an example of gambling and how much it has grown in America.
“When you think of Las Vegas, there’s no reason for it to exist,” Hamburg said. “It’s a destination. It’s in the middle of the desert and there are no natural resources, but still, people flock there.”
Recently, casinos around the world have been experiencing some significant changes. Perhaps one of the biggest changes is the installation of video game slot machines. Instead of actually pulling the big handle and watching coins shoot out, everything is done digitally. And if players win, they get a ticket, instead.
Initially, this caused some concern among gamblers, but both Carlin and Hamburg felt that people were starting to adapt to it.
“They’re going to start putting these video games in the bars,” Hamburg said. “They are going to get people comfortable with it, and then once people realize they like it, they are going to incorporate it into the casinos. It’s new technology, and it’s changing with the times because technology itself is changing. I was very upset because I liked hearing the coins coming down.”
Carlin concluded his lecture by talking about what’s next for gaming. While there have been huge growths in gaming and online presence in Asia, Carlin felt it was hard to predict what the future holds for his company in the U.S.
“Gaming folks in general have been bad at predicting the future,” Carlin said. “People thought gaming wouldn’t work outside of the city of Nevada. Industry perceptions [are] different than reality. I think you’re going to see more cannibalization.”
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