Can The Gaming Industry Wager Its Future On Millennials?

Millennial Gambling Trends

While Las Vegas and Atlantic City are popular casino gaming meccas, they also offer the allure of world-class entertainment, dining and nightlife. Though these amenities used to exist as merely a draw to entice the wagering crowd, they have gradually become more influential revenue channels in these and many similar markets around the world – and if gambling trends among millennials continue, these alternative entertainment streams to casino gaming may be a vital part of capturing the interest of future travelers.

Influence of Millennial Gambling Trends

For no other generation has the focus on entertainment and nightlife been more relevant than millennials. In a July 2016 study of Atlantic City casino tourists conducted by Stockton University, millennials (representing the youngest age group surveyed at 21-35) were shown to spend the smallest percentage of their travel budget, just 8.5 percent, on gambling activities. This figure came in barely over 1/3 of the percentage registered by millennials’ over-35 counterparts, at 23.5 percent.

Millennial Entertainment Preferences Study

*Table 3 from “Millennial Entertainment Preferences Study – July 2016”

Though sometimes stereotyped as being poor money managers, travel trends among millennials show that they are actually rather savvy and put a heavier priority on the value of experiences. This trend translates to the casino floor as well, where millennials are nearly even with other age groups when it comes to their likelihood of playing table games (a more community-oriented experience). At only 44 percent of those polled, however, millennials were nearly half as likely when compared to visitors over-35 to play a more isolating game such as slot machines.

Considering the low overhead and high return on machine-based gaming, these figures further highlight the importance of bulking up on new and innovative means of entertainment for a younger generation.

“This is a generation which has grown up playing skill-based games and everything we are seeing within psychographics and spend patterns suggests that those should be the focus on the gaming floor of the future,” according to Derek Schoen, Director of Media Innovation at MGM Resorts International. “Since the recession, less and less has been spent in the Casino space with F&B, Entertainment and Attraction percentages on the increase. Vegas is a destination for fully integrated resorts, not just casinos anymore. Our game offerings need to evolve with the times.”

How Can the Hospitality and Gaming Industry Stay Relevant to Millennials?

In addition to placing a stronger emphasis on amenities and experiences, gaming executives should consider how they position certain elements of the gambling experience for millennials. In fact, 50 percent of millennials polled for the Stockton University study had admitted that they would be more likely to give slot gaming a try if skill were incorporated in the experience.

Based on statistics taken by a recent trend report by Newzoo titled, “How to Attract Social Casino Gamers,” there is little denial that millennial interest in casino gaming exists and of the 73.9 million social gamers identified in the U.S., more than half spend money.

While the figure below includes players in the sub-21 age range, social casino gamers in the 26-35 age range still make up over a quarter of the market.

millennials and gambling research

With millennials making up the largest age group in the U.S. at 87 million and poised to account for 1/3 of all retail spending over the next five years, one thing is clear – understanding their demographic and tailoring meaningful experiences for this savvy generation will be a vital part of the future success of the hospitality and gaming industry.

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