The Trouble with Change: It’s Hard to Predict

My father was also a publisher based in Minnesota, and I started with him in 1981 as an intern in college and eventually worked my way up to be his vice president of business development. My job was to research new publishing opportunities. Our specialty was textiles and gourmet specialty foods—all handled from the business-to-business vantage point.

My first introduction to the gaming industry came in 1992, several years after Minnesota had successfully negotiated Class III gaming compacts. It started slowly, but by 1991 two governors had negotiated four such compacts. For me, the writing was on the wall and I suggested that we vigorously move ahead with three publications. The first was a B2B for Class III gaming. The second was a B2B for charitable gaming and bingo. The third was a regional consumer tabloid for casino enthusiasts. The timing was right, and we enjoyed a nice business trajectory for many years.

As with any economic change, there are winners and losers. The paper-bingo product suppliers lost market share to video bingo. Charitable gaming lost market share to Indian casinos. My father’s small niche gaming publications eventually lost market share to large publishing conglomerates and investment groups anxious to take a stake in the growing casino business. And the list goes on.

Over the last 30 years, large and small changes have come and gone in waves. Each ripple has had its share of winners and losers. There are three ways to look at each change. 1) If you lost out, you likely view it as a bad thing. 2) If you were the winner, you likely view it as a good thing.
3) If you can remove yourself from the change outcome emotionally, you view it as a necessary change in the evolutionary process of the economy. However you choose to look at it, change is inevitable.

This year at G2E we will see an assortment of various positions on the latest and greatest technological rollouts destined to revolutionize the future of gaming. Server-based gaming, which seemed to have a drum roll that lasted for more than a decade, may have lost its window of opportunity to be the game changer it was once touted to be. It’s unlikely that a closed system will be what’s used to deliver gaming content in the long run. Instead, I believe we’ll see the Internet and its various incarnations dominate in that space. Play-denomination adjustment, hold percentage, accounting, CRM, marketing, promotions, compliance, player clubs and even signage across the casino resort and back office will be delivered wirelessly. IP game content will be securely delivered to servers, and games will be delivered to electronic gaming machines and mobile gaming devices via a wireless network and the Internet.

In the future, game content (regardless of device type or proximity), business-intelligence analytics solutions and casino management solutions will undoubtedly be managed via a secure encrypted cloud server. These services will be sold through subscription fees and made available on an à la carte basis. With this dramatic shift in the transactional landscape, there will be a new set of winners and losers, but rest assured, change is coming and at a pace far quicker than ever seen before.

It is also likely that we will see public enthusiasm in pure gaming increase and reach an entirely new demographic because its delivery platform will appeal to an entirely new demographic. Starting in the 1990s and up to present day, casino gaming lost its dominating relevance in casino resorts, yielding to other forms of entertainment such as dining, retail shopping, posh nightclubs, spas and golf. While it’s difficult to predict, I believe we’ll see the revenue pendulum swing back the other way.

So my recommendation for your time at G2E this year is this: Look for the most forward-thinking visionary ideas presented by folks who are completely divorced from the dogma of the old way of gaming entertainment. It’s going to be a new world, and some of the winners and losers will be on the floor at G2E.

Peter Mead
Casino Enterprise Management

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