Millennials are less likely to gamble in Vegas than they are to partake in glitzy entertainment and trendy restaurants.
Another Las Vegas icon closed its doors this week. The Riviera Hotel & Casino was the first high-rise resort on the fabled Strip when it opened in 1955. Elvis played there, as did Liberace, Dean Martin, and Barbra Streisand, among countless other entertainment legends (and the Village People, too).
Situated on 26 acres, the 2,075-room building was sold in February to the Las Vegas Convention and VisitorsAuthority, which plans to demolish it.
It’s just part and parcel of Vegas’ shifting focus to a younger demographic that has no investment in nostalgic memories of the Rat Pack era. In its bid to attract the next generation of gamblers, Vegas is looking to add more interactive and skill-based games. Millennials, turns out, aren’t as big on slot machines as previous generations.
The Washington Post reports that the average age of Vegas visitors has dropped from 50 to 45 since 2009, but that Sin City visitors are less likely to gamble than they are to partake in glitzy entertainment and trendy restaurants. The share of Vegas visitors who gambled during their stay fell to 71 percent in 2013, down from 83 percent four years ago, the Post story said.
Part of the solution has been rebranding with slot machines recast with popular movie and TV franchises. Video poker, too, has more the look of a video game.
The Nevada State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow the inclusion of casino games that would combine traditional gambling with playing a skill-based video game. The contents would still be games of chance, but the odds of winning would be enhanced if the player mastered certain skills. Skill-based gaming is currently illegal in Nevada (not that blackjack or craps don’t require a certain skill).
Bally Technologies has developed a slot machine based on the classic arcade game Skee-Ball, while Gamblit Gaming debuted products that resemble popular games such as Angry Birds, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
Beyond Vegas, some casinos seem to be taking their cue from the carnival boardwalk to get Millennials into the gambling game. National Public Radio recently reported on an Atlantic City casino that has instituted a basketball free-throw shooting contest. With a $20 stake, one could possible net thousands.
"Millennials typically find traditional slot machines boring because there's little or no skill involved; they'd much rather play games were there's an element of skill and the opportunity to socialize or compete with friends while doing so," Caesars Entertainment spokesman Gary Thompson told the Associated Press. "It's clear skill-based games are going to be a big part of the industry's future."
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.