Attendees at last month’s Canadian Gaming Summit got an unusual spin on the market in a conference session titled “A View from the Top… Off the Record.”
The information was delivered by Rob Scarpelli and Lyle Hall, both of HLT Advisory Inc. The two oversaw a series of confidential interviews with top Canadian gaming executives and officials from the private and public sectors.
The general conclusion was that Canada is a market nearing maturity. A flattening growth curve can be seen across all sectors of gaming.
For casinos, the payback period on capital investment is getting longer, and increases to the supply of slots and tables are not generating additional income in the same proportions as previously.
Canada has at the provincial level a large public-sector involvement in casino ownership. However, it is felt that there is a lack of consistency across these jurisdictions. More involvement by the private sector might result in better operations, according to the respondents.
Questions about the personnel situation revealed that casinos are having difficulties training and retaining staff. Turnover at some properties can be 30 percent annually. The competition for qualified labor and management is an issue, on several levels. In jurisdictions with government ownership, officially regulated pay scales make it difficult to compete with the private sector for top managers. Another complicating-and expensive-factor can be artificial constraints on staffing levels.
For success into the future, respondentsbelieve the industry needs to work on a number of areas. These include a continued focus on responsible gaming, a more customer-oriented viewpoint and an increase in non-gaming amenities. In general, the industry needs to be thinking more on a strategic level.
The main issues to be resolved are regulatory alignment on a national level, the labor situation, infrastructure replacement and satisfying any unmet demand.