Non-Gaming Activities, Online Integration Key Concerns for US Land-based Casinos

The gaming floor has traditionally been the lifeblood and raison d’être of any casino but increased demand for non-gaming activities is transforming how we see retail gambling destinations. According to LT’s (formerly LaneTerralever) 2024 Casino Player Trends Report, these alternative forms of entertainment are a factor for roughly three-quarters of guests when choosing which casinos to patronize. Additionally, thanks to the popularity of online gambling,  LT found that many land-based operators are looking for ways to integrate online options with the live casino experience.

The report notes the importance of non-gaming experiences to casino operator success:

Integrated entertainment experiences are essential to the ongoing success of operators, and although the “traditional” casino visitor still exists, more visitors today are looking at the full package of amenities and other options casinos offer.

Non-gaming revenue can contribute as much as 70% of a destination casino’s revenue. Our research reveals that food, beverage, entertainment, and safety/security are all critical factors in decision-making.

It also highlights a push to attract online casino and sportsbook players to brick-and-mortar destinations:

Online betting (OSB and iGaming) is now mainstream — both within and outside casinos. Many casinos today have incorporated that option into the live casino experience, to fully capitalize on its potential.

Loyalty Demands More Than Free Plays, Bonuses

Importantly, LT found casino gaming activities remain a priority among all generations. Specifically, 79% of Boomers, 69% of Gen X, 54% of Millennials, and 62% of Gen Z reported placing a bet at a casino in the previous year.

However, casino goers typically spend at least 20% of a casino visit on non-gaming activities regardless of generation. Moreover, 70% of casino-goers say non-gaming options rank even higher when visiting in a group, particularly younger generations.

Non-gaming activities, as defined in the report, include:

  • Hotel
  • Hotel amenities (pool, spa, fitness, etc.)
  • Non-gaming experiences (bowling, golf, etc.)
  • Live entertainment (concerts, shows, clubs, etc.)
  • On-premise and casino-affiliated shopping and boutiques
  • Restaurants and Dining

Notably, when it comes to brand loyalty, today’s casino-going population is diverse enough that free plays are not enough to entice all customers into a return visit.

Of those surveyed, 63% said non-gaming attractions impact brand loyalty.

Additionally, LT found that 79% of affluent visitors (with a household income over $100,000) consider non-gaming activities when choosing a local casino, compared to less affluent customers (73%). When visiting a destination casino, the same group reported spending only half their time on the gaming floor, with the rest devoted to other activities.

Among the highest-income visitors (incomes over $200,000), 31.6% said non-gaming activities are a significant or very significant (23.5%) loyalty driver.

Over the last decade, casinos evolved significantly, according to the report, with even “traditional” players becoming accustomed to a range of on-site experiences. Providing activities that appeal to all ages is a massive opportunity for operators—whether dining, entertainment or live events.

Not every casino will benefit from global-interest events, like Formula One’s $1.2 billion impact on Las Vegas. But, according to LT, the takeaway should be that people choose a destination based on unique experiences.

Experiences Rule and Younger Generations Want More

More than “traditional” players, LT found millennial and Gen Z casino-goers seek a choice of activities, whether visiting a local (within 90 minutes by car) or destination casino (requiring an overnight stay).

It also found millennials (67%) are willing to “pay more for unique experiences.” Additionally, the report notes that diversity and global travel introduce visitors looking for dining, entertainment, and shopping unavailable at home.

Indeed, results showed all generations seek engaging experiences over material things and that casinos have “taken on a new role in experiences and social gatherings.”

But with the size and impact of younger generations growing—72 million Millennials and 70 million Gen Z—operators that understand how they play and spend gain a huge opportunity.

According to the report, operators have also shifted their thoughts about non-gaming activities. Chad Beynon, a managing director and gaming and lodging analyst at Macquarie Capital, told LT the extras are more than bait.

We have seen a change in the business model. Casinos are looking at non-gaming as a way to make money versus before; it was just a way to get people into the mouse trap, so to speak.

While that shift will likely benefit casino coffers and customer choice; as a result, casino visits can be pricier. As Derek Helling reported for PlayUSA, while event tickets may be a tad cheaper, casino dining and other services are often comparably priced to non-gaming venues.

Casinos Must Offer Best of Both Worlds

While casinos (local and destination) have started upping their dining, entertainment, and family-friendly offerings, online betting has continued to grow in popularity.

In this case, LT found most respondents (58%) prefer online to in-person gambling, a preference held by men and women.

However, the report also points out that preferring online play doesn’t preclude people from seeking resonating in-person experiences.

For this reason, LT positions online casino and sports betting as both threat and opportunity.

Although some consumers prefer to engage in these activities from the comfort of homes, casinos, and other venues are discovering that creating immersive environments where people can participate is a win-win, resulting in potential increased food, beverage, and other hospitality revenue streams.

Though not detailed in LT’s report, this latest shift is visible in how retail casinos and sportsbooks design (and redesign) their spaces.

Circa Sportsbook’s Stadium Swim in Las Vegas is an excellent example. With six pools on three levels, massive screens showing games and betting lines, and the ability to wager from the pool by kiosk or phone, Circa’s turned a normally solitary activity into a social one.

On the casino side, the top omnichannel operators, like BetMGM and Caesars, use unified rewards programs to entice online players to their retail properties and vice versa. Beyond that, it’s an open question of how best to blend retail and digital experiences. However, emerging technologies offer potential answers.

One such possibility comes from Evolution’s newest acquisition, Livespins, which offers viewers bettable streams of slots play happening legally at an in-state casino.

So, while LT drives home that online gambling is here to stay, it reiterates that online and in-person need not remain at odds.

Incorporating engaging ways for non-traditional players to take advantage of on-premise incentives is to give players the best of both worlds.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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