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Silver Lining

Even though things are much worse than they were in August, you know what? My attitude has not changed.

Silver Lining

Several months ago in our Casino Connection magazines, which are read by the front-line gaming employees, I penned an article called “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
In that piece, I recounted the difficult times I have seen during my 30 years in gaming and beyond: The sky-high interest rates and the long gas lines of the 1970s. The malaise and regulatory intransigence of the 1980s. The recession and later explosive growth outside the major gaming jurisdictions of the 1990s. And maturation and global expansion of the gaming industry in this decade.
My point in this article was that we’ve seen hard times before and will see them again. We came out of those hard times energized and ready to grow.
After that initial Casino Connection article, I got several calls and emails from casino presidents and GMs thanking me for pointing out that it’s not all doom and gloom, that there is hope.
But because it was written in August, the article didn’t take into account what happened in October. Many observers, myself included, remarked that we’ve never seen anything like it. From the gaming perspective, the dismal revenue numbers, coupled with the plunging stock prices of all the gaming companies—large and small alike—certainly are unprecedented.
Even though things are much worse than they were in August, you know what? My attitude has not changed.
Indeed, I’m probably more excited and optimistic about the prospects for the future.
Sure, things are tough and likely to get tougher. More people will unfortunately lose their jobs. Revenues will probably continue to fall, at least through the winter. And anxiety will grow exponentially.
But let’s calm down and look at reality.
We provide entertainment services for millions of people. In this difficult time, what could be more of a noble undertaking? Yes, we’d like to see more of our customers more frequently, but we have to concentrate on those who do avail themselves of our services. They are counting on us to provide them with an escape from their stressful lives, so let’s make them feel at home.
Our employees are well-trained and hard-working. Our facilities are first-class and welcoming. And the size, quality and depth of our markets has not changed.
We know our business. We understand what motivates our customers. And we’ve created an experience that we know is unique to our facilities and communities.
The problems facing the industry are, for the most part, not of our making. There is nothing we could have done to make this situation any easier (at least at the operational level). We can’t control high gas prices, expensive and scarce airline seats, access to credit, foreclosures, layoffs, tighter discretionary spending and all the issues that our customers grapple with every day.
We can control our operations. We need to put our heads down and operate the best and most efficiently we can during this time. We need to understand that our customers are still there, and when they show up, we need to go the extra mile to show them a great time. At the same time, we need to care about our employees and our communities.
Yes, I am very optimistic about the future. If we stay strong and committed to our goals, stay true to our ideals and our philosophies, we’ll be in an excellent position to rebound quickly when this current economic downturn eases.
But most of all, the people of our industry are special. The strength of character and the commitment to family and community by our employees and executives is impressive, even in the best of times. Now, it is inspiring. Whether you work for commercial casinos, Indian gaming, racinos or the wide variety of operations in the international market, our people are our treasure.
We’ll get through this because we’ll all work together and help each other. That’s the way it is in gaming.
Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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