Casino resort executives from around the world are at Lake Tahoe this week, learning how to adapt to markets that are becoming over-saturated with gambling. At the same time, they're looking for ways to enter new markets.
Gaming professors, consultants and executives from eight countries have gathered at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe for the “Executive Development Program” run by the University of Nevada Reno. The hot topic is over saturation; too many slot machines, too few customers. It's a problem from Reno to Las Vegas to New Jersey to South Africa. Sammy Mokhele of South Africa’s Sun International says, the solution is to look beyond gambling.
“We are trying to reposition some of our properties to be integrated in that fashion. Including ones that exist and were built in the past to be pure casino destinations.”
Mokhele says in South Africa, that focus is retail and children's amusement parks. In Las Vegas the focus is on night clubs. Lake Tahoe, it's outdoor activities. Reinvention is only part of the challenge. Gaming consultant Mark Lipparelli says governments are a lot more cautious about approving casino development.
“Governments have become a lot smarter about their expectations, it goes far beyond taxes or a financial return or taxes.”
Lipparelli says governments in emerging gaming markets, Asia, India and South America, are more concerned with the overall impact on the communities, taxes, employment and infrastructure. That makes gambling a tougher sell.