Move over Cher and Celine. Casinos are chasing the millennial, and in order to get them inside their doors, numerous gambling venues are booking concert acts that appeal to the 20 and 30-somethings.
From bringing in the Impractical Jokers, stars of the hit TruTV hidden-camera comedy show, to welcoming not only top 40 musical acts but also indie bands, venues are mixing up their theater lineups. It’s all part of a concerted effort to attract new patrons who would likely otherwise never step foot inside a casino.
While Las Vegas has slowly begun working to appeal to the millennial demographic, it’s the regional casinos that are leading the charge to book burgeoning acts. Treasure Island in Welch, Minnesota, some 40 miles southeast of Minneapolis, is betting on the marketing strategy to pay dividends.
“We started looking at what we were doing with our music, who we were bringing in,” Treasure Island spokeswoman Cindy Taube Taube told the Pioneer Press recently. “We’re traditionally known for classic rock and country . . . but you can only bring the same people back around so many times.”
Iggy Azalea, Rachel Platten, and Andy Grammer are just some of the names who have recently performed at Treasure Island.
Studies have recently demonstrated that the millennial isn’t so interested in games of luck and chance. Unlike previous generations that found enjoyment from pulling the slot lever, the new wave of young adults apparently want more control over their betting outcomes.
That’s given rise to skill-based gaming, a hybrid concept that combines chance with elements of physical or mental proficiency. The challenge, however, is that most gaming laws mandate that payout percentages be the same for one player to the next.
New Jersey and Nevada both recently issued regulatory framework for skill-based games, and Caesars unveiled the first betting machines at its Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City last November.
Casinos think once the young adult is inside the resort for the concert, they will be enticed to give gambling a try.
Bad Business Concept
Not everyone agrees that the millennial should be so heavily marketed towards. The CEO of Penn National, a Pennsylvania-based casino operator that specializes in regional venues, says it’s a flawed way of thinking.
“I’m of the belief that focusing in on millennials is not going to produce good economic results,” CEO Tim Wilmott said last year. A glance at casino concert calendars around the nation seems to suggest that Wilmott is in the minority.
Though classic acts like ZZ Top, Sting, and Billy Crystal are booked at the new MGM National Harbor resort, the venue is also welcoming Korean pop stars Band of Brothers and alternative music act Panic at the Disco on marquee weekend nights.
At Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, names like 34-year-old magician Michael Carbonaro and comedian Amy Schumer, as well as musical act Kesha, fills the calendar.
And at WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, big names like Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Patti LaBelle are stopping by, but it’s rapper Pitbull’s show that’s sold out.