Casino industry must make drastic changes to survive the digital revolution

  • Las Vegas casino conference sees one innovator tell casinos to innovate
  • Points to outdated slots and competition from online casino games

Conferences are, by nature, places where innovation is the key focus. After all, it’s what all industries need.

But nothing shook up the attendees at casino conference, Encore more than Rob Tercek’s bold prophecy that, unless the land-based casino scene radically transforms, it could become ‘vaporized’.

casino innovation tercek
Innovator, Rob Tercek tells casino industry to innovate to keep up

Strong – indeed, somewhat terrifying – words, but like so many slightly archaic sectors, the casino industry has been warned that it could be next to go. At least, that’s according to Tercek.

The founder and president of General Creativity Consulting, said that the gathering momentum of mobile casino games, coupled with casinos’ apparent inability to stay up to date, could “drive customers away”.

The keynote speaker was just one presenter at an event filled with finance, security, innovation, and privacy advice. But Tercek’s words, while powerful, reportedly caused quite a stir at the event.

Slot troubles

Tercek warned that gamblers are being ‘conditioned’ by the apps and online casino games available on their smartphones and other devices, and that slot games offered by land-based casinos are dull in comparison.

He said: “Once those games are sealed by the regulators, they’re sealed for good and you can’t change those games on the fly. You simply can’t innovate at the speed of mobile game and the entire mobile industry.”

Tercek went on to explain that smartphone-based games are upgrading endlessly, and that the designers behind these games are always getting feedback from customers. This enables the developers to implement appealing changes speedily.

He also less-than-subtly hinted that the slot games offered by land-based casinos are out-dated. Slot symbols such as bells, flaming sevens, and the iconic cherries have been gracing casinos for over a century, Tercek said.

“You’re not going to believe it, but those cherries, bars, and bells were introduced in the 1880s. We still haven’t changed them.”

He added: “They’re silently telegraphing a message when millennials walk through the casino floor. What it’s saying is, ‘This is not for you. This is an artefact from a bygone era.’”

The price of modernization

Tercek eventually moved away from slot machine development – or the apparent lack of – and onto the players themselves. His point was that their engagement with slot games at the moment is weak, and that online casino sites had the upper hand over casinos by offering them free play.

“When you look at the console where players are now conditioned to play with a touchscreen or with augmented reality or virtual reality, when players today see these kinds of consoles, to them it looks like something that was designed in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s,” said Tercek.

“When you compare mobile games to the casinos games, the casino games disappoint players today. They’re way too expensive because consumers are conditioned to ‘free.’” Their interest diminishes because they lose a lot of money, and fast.

‘It doesn’t meet their expectations’

Tercek’s main argument at the conference was that the slots offered by casinos are, at the moment, not meeting the players’ expectations.

But he said that there is “hope for the industry” if slot machine models are innovated in such a way that they become more attractive to players.

He compares the purportedly dwindling casino landscape to the demise of CDs, DVDs, fax machines, and address books, stating simply that “we always have a smartphone app for that.”

Addressing the attendees directly, Tercek said, “The fate of the casino business is in your hands. You’re either going to end up like all the examples [above] and be irrelevant or you’re going to make some dramatic changes to your business.”

OUR VERDICT

Vaporization? It’s certainly a strong phrase to choose. You may not know who Rob Tercek is, you may not care, but his message isn’t actually that far-fetched. A cursory look at some of the news on this site will show that casinos are doing all they can to appeal to a new generation of players – they know they have some catching up to do. If you’re a casino fan, how often do you use an online casino? How does that compare to how much you visit a land-based casino? Chances are, there’s a big difference. What can casinos do? Well, they’r trying video game technology, skill-based games that make playing more interactive, new and improved versions of existing games, and things like VR. Will it work? Time will tell. For now, casinos must do all they can to modernize.

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