Sands Bethlehem stadium seated gambling

The Sands Bethlehem is adding a stadium-seated gambling area in an attempt to attract millennials who are not interested in traditional slots. (Image: Rick Smith/Associated Press)

Casinos across the country all seem to have one question on their mind: how can they get millennials into their doors and spending money?

One casino in Pennsylvania is trying something new in this ongoing quest, adding stadium seating to games like blackjack in an attempt to attract younger bettors to their tables.

The Sands Bethlehem has announced that they will build a 150-seat stadium style area in their casino, offering a type of hybrid gaming that will pair electronic machine with live dealers.

Such games have been seen before in Asian markets like Macau, but are rare in the United States.

“We’ve decided to get real aggressive and go right to 150,” Sands Bethlehem CEO Mark Juliano told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. “As the world moves toward electronics, digital and automated everything, we are trying to keep pace with that.”

Stadium Seating Features Live Dealers, Video Terminals

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. already offers stadium seating for gamblers in some of their Asian properties. But this will be the first time they offer such a system in America, and will be the largest such “stadium” in the United States.

The games will be run by a live dealer, with players playing out their individual hands on an electronic terminal where they can watch the action unfold via live video.

In that way, players can still feel like they are playing privately without losing the atmosphere that comes with a live dealer.

In addition, the format will allow for players to play for lower-stakes than at standard table games, as they will offer a $5 minimum. The games also play out at a faster pace, as all bets and winnings are handled electronically.

“I think it’s a great prospect,” said Gaming Control Board member Keith McCall. “So many people want to sit at a $5 blackjack table, but can’t.” 

Once sitting at one of the terminals, players will be able to choose from blackjack, baccarat, roulette and sic bo on the same machine, meaning the entire stadium won’t have to play one game.

The Sands will be using the stadium seating to replace a juice bar, an underperforming asset that itself was likely intended to appeal to younger visitors.

Millennials Increasingly Targeted by Casinos

This is hardly the first attempt by a casino to find some innovative way of attracting millennials. In fact, this has been one of the hottest topics among casino operators, as younger generations have shown little interest in playing the slot machines that drive revenues among older gamblers.

“You have as much chance getting a millennial into slot machines as you do getting your grandmother into playing ‘Halo,’” Gamblit Gaming Chief Marketing Officer David Chang told the Washington Post earlier this year. “Slots today are designed entertainment experiences, but for a completely different demographic, and that’s people who grew up with slot machines.”

One idea that has been floated has been introducing more skill elements into traditionally luck-based gambling games such as slots.

Others include adding more social media elements to gaming, and greater use of touchscreens and other high-tech electronics.

It isn’t just casinos that are finding it difficult to attract millennials, either. State lotteries have also been finding younger generations less interested in their products, and are looking for ways to change that indifference.

“The future of state lotteries depends on getting a whole new generation hooked,” said Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling. “You do that by getting lottery games on the Internet and letting people use credit cards.”