Monday, January 3, 2011

Las Vegas Strip looks to adapt to a changing market

From the January 2, 2011 Las Vegas Sun.

The Strip — and gambling as a whole — face increasing competition from video games and other forms of cheap home entertainment.

A new generation of potential gamblers, now hitting their 40s, grew up with video games and are still playing them for hours on end.

“We haven’t really put them down. Video game developers recognize that and are trying to retain that market with games that appeal more to adults than children,” said Dan Birlew, a Las Vegas resident who has written dozens of strategy books on video games.

Americans spend more on video games, consoles and related equipment than on all casino gambling combined, according to industry sources. And yet, analysts say video games and portable gaming on iPhones and similar devices are capturing time and money that younger generations might otherwise spend at casinos and other entertainment outlets.

“When you play as many video games as I do, it’s nice to get away from a screen and have a real life experience” at a restaurant or show, said Birlew, who gambles infrequently. Still, “if it’s ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ versus going to a casino, someone of my generation may have more fun playing a video game all night.”
Casinos have diversified in recent years with elaborate nightclubs and pool parties that attract younger customers who don’t necessarily gamble. They are jumping into social media, with discounts and events promoted via Facebook and Twitter — although marketers say hotels have yet to merge these new media with the rest of their marketing efforts or personalize them enough for individual customers.

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