The mood here in Las Vegas is mixed as a certain segment of the American gaming industry is in mild panic - and shockingly this has nothing to do with the drama of the presidential election contest.
The doomsayers are shouting that:
1. Slot revenues are in decline (or at least flatlining).
2. Social casino player numbers are down for the first time ever (even though revenues are up).
3. Attempts to overthrow sports betting bans are stalling.
4. The i-gaming revolution hasn't happened and attempts to ban i-gaming still linger.
Lots of focus at this year's G2E conference and expo is on how can gaming can reverse the trend, find new customers, and increase consumer spend? This leads Las Vegas to its current obsessions: the millennials.
Even though the motives for looking at millennials are sketchy (as many of those pushing the negative stories are the same people selling solutions to these problems) there is an exciting side effect - Innovation. Gaming groups are trying new things and this leads to a much more interesting experience at G2E here in Las Vegas.
Corey Padveen of T2 marketing pointed out: "The millennial generation has a price sensitivity from growing up in a recession. They are looking for value for each dollar spent. They want guaranteed entertainment when they spend - something that isn't compatible with a $200 10-minute roulette experience."
So many of the new gaming solutions revolve around integrated entertainment experiences. No longer is gaming siloed as a separate product - it is integrated into other entertainment experiences. We can see the effect already emerging on the casinos on the Strip. For example, the Surrender Club at the Wynn now offers table games and Lavo at The Palazzo is an integrated casino bar.
Mobile gaming within the casino is also changing the on-property experience. This is an analyst’s dream as every square foot of the casino (including the rooms) now has a gaming revenue potential. Offering customers an app to download in return for access to gaming, offers and rewards has changed the customer interaction.
For example Tropicana in New Jersey has introduced a true omni-channel picture of their customers. They have a single view of their customers across devices, channels, online, offline and social games whether in the casino or playing at home.
E-sports and skill games are the buzzwords of the show as ways to engage millennials. Casinos, such as the Downtown Grand, are using e-sports lounges to get millennial traffic in the door (where "XYZ" happens). Many vendors are offering skill-game products too. Sceptics suggest that customers are agnostic to the underlying mechanic, but at least it is driving new types of gaming product.
Companies such as Gamblit Gaming (on the casino floor) and Cashplay (in the app stores) are driving tournament play as a way to engage millennial consumers with new gaming experiences.
Jarrod Epps, CEO at Cashplay, said: "Innovating content is key as gaming is a proven way to engage the younger demographic. Building brand through online games, skill based or other, with millennials today will ensure these are your more dedicated casino visitors in the future".
Let's not forget more traditional products. Sports betting is viewed as both a successful acquisition and revenue tool onto the casino floors (but don't mention last years trend fantasy).
Mobile and instant experiences are key to the success of sports too - echoing trends in Europe. David Purdum, journalist at ESPN, highlighted the fact that "mobile gaming is driving record sports betting handle in Nevada".
Dan Shapiro, director of business development of William Hill US agreed: "Forty per cent of our total handle is on mobile (up from 16 per cent in 2012) and inplay represents 20 per cent (zero per cent in 2012)."
But will we see legal sports betting nationwide soon? Sara Rayme, senior vice president of public affairs at the AGA, summed up: "Although we are closer than ever before, realistically speaking we are three to five years away".
David Sargeant is an innovation consultant for iGaming Ideas - helping bridge the gap between gaming operators and new ideas. Follow his tweets live from G2E Las Vegas - http://www.twitter.com/smallprophet