Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been green lighted by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to add stadium gambling to the floor of its Sands Bethlehem casino.
The company has had tremendous success with stadium gambling in their Asia casinos (located in Macau and Singapore), and recently added a 24-seat stadium to the floor of the Venetian in Las Vegas. The proposed stadium gambling section at Sands Bethlehem will be five times that size, and the largest outside of Asia.
Sands Bethlehem’s stadium gambling terminals are expected come online sometime in February, and will create about 50 new jobs at the casino. The stadium gambling terminals will replace a failed juice bar and will not impact the number of table games or slot machines.
LVS believes the addition of stadium gambling will be a big draw for millennials, a demographic the entire casino industry has struggled to attract — particularly so for LVS. More on that later.
What is ‘stadium gambling’
Stadium gambling is a hybrid of the electronic gaming tables found mainly at slot casinos and a standard table game with a live dealer.
Much like a slot machine, video poker machine or electronic blackjack table, each player sits at their own electronic betting terminal and chooses their game, stakes and actions electronically. The game is then dealt by live dealers positioned in a central spot within the “stadium,” with a video feed of the dealer transmitted to each betting terminal.
Players sitting down at stadium gambling terminals at Sands Bethlehem will be able to choose from blackjack, baccarat, roulette and sic bo, with a minimum wager of $5 – well below the typical minimums players will find at Sands table games.
Good for the casino, and the bettor
Stadium gambling has several benefits for both the casino and the customer.
Benefits to the customer include:
- Since there are no chips or need to payout bets, hands are dealt faster (this is also an advantage for the casino).
- Because the machines deal faster and require fewer employees to operate, the casino can offer lower minimum bets.
- Since each player’s actions only impact their hand they can avoid embarrassment and/or angering other players at the table when they make unorthodox plays.
Lower minimum bets and an anonymous playing experience should bring in new table game players who feel intimidated by standard table games.
Benefits to the casino include:
- The design of the stadium saves space on the casino floor.
- The machines require less staff to operate.
Another benefit of stadium gambling is the atmosphere it can create.
Anyone who has ever been to a casino knows a full craps table can get quite boisterous as a lot of players are hoping for the same outcome. Stadium gambling is no different. “It’s like 100 people playing on the same team,” Mike Trask, the senior marketing manager for Scientific Games told the Morning Call. “When the dealer draws that bust card and 100 people win at once, a roar goes up in the [stadium]. It’s pretty cool to watch.”
Will it bring in the millenials?
Perhaps the most interesting part of Sands Bethlehem’s decision to add stadium gaming is the reasoning behind it. By most accounts, the casino is looking to attract well-heeled millennials, something that is at odds with some of their other gaming positions, most notably their position on online gambling.
Sheldon Adelson’s opposition to online gambling makes it far more difficult for LVS to identify and market to these potential customers; if you can’t directly target them to bring them to your property, they’ll never have the chance to play at your stadium gambling terminals.
On the other hand, the casinos that have embraced online gaming have universally said the customers playing online are a different animal than their brick-and-mortar customers, and seem to include more millennials. Some 85% of online gamblers were not in the casinos’ databases in New Jersey, and a growing amount of evidence shows online gamblers are younger, better educated, and have a higher average household income than their brick-and-mortar counterparts who stated they would not gamble online.
Based on the studies and the experiences of casinos involved in legal online gaming markets, if LVS wants to fill their stadium gambling terminals with millennials who have plenty of money to burn, it should embrace PA online casinos. But as long as Sheldon Adelson is at the helm, this is very unlikely.