• Joseph DiDonato

East Coast Gaming Congress 2018 - The Wrap

The 2018 East Coast Gaming Congress and NextGen Gaming Forum (ECGC) held in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 13 and 14 provided guidance on the key factors necessary for the future success of gaming and the newly legalized “sports betting”. Throughout the congress, key elements for the continued resurgence of gaming in New Jersey (including sports betting) would be (1) ensuring that there are mobile applications for use with smart phones or smart devices; (2) easing the transfer of funds to allow players flexibility in placing wagers and ensuring ease in placing a wager; and (3) allowing “in game betting” -- which would allow multiple wagers within the same game, continued “wagering“ during the game, and not having to wait for the completion of a game before placing another wager on the same game.

Fund transferring is a highly sensitive issue because it is at the intersection of two highly regulated industries: the financial industry and the gaming industry. Thus, the focus needs to be on ensuring that any funds transfer complies with existing (and future) regulations for both industries.

Another topic at the congress was the new games that potentially are coming to casino floors and mobile devices, most specifically e-sports. E-sports have been the focus of much discussion because they are directed to the new generation of gamers including millennials. Although a 30 day “ban” exists in the recently created New Jersey law and regulations, gaming companies will follow this path because “sport lounges” which now exist around the world need to be a part of the casino experience.

The casino experience cannot be solely focused on gaming. It needs to be a culmination of many different experiences, such as gaming, food and beverage, entertainment, sporting events, etc. All of the experiences will drive new and existing gamers to the casinos, and all of which will be complemented by the i-gaming potential. Marketing professionals already know that traditional gamers, who have not been raised on iPhones and handheld devices, will, if possible, move slowly to skill-based games (including e-sports) from slot machines and their familiar traditional games. Therefore, it is important for games to be easily taught and learned so as not to intimidate the 45 and older crowd (“baby boomers”) from trying the new games and visiting the e-sport lounge. A clear goal of the gaming industry is to have the baby boomers, generation Xers and millenials all enjoying the total experience from brick and mortar casinos and igaming.

Investment in Atlantic City has been building over the past two years as the city has started returning from despair. The keynote address giving by Governor Phil Murphy (of New Jersey) was highly inspirational and positive regarding the future of the city and his comments were echoed by most attending the conference. As sports gaming and the resurgence of the casino industry provides more dollars for investment and more opportunities for businesses in Atlantic City, Wall Street is keeping a close eye and seems to be ready to start investing as soon as “stability” comes to the resort town and the regulations are implemented regarding sports betting.

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