2015 Year in Review: Trends and Forecasts in Gaming

The-Bicycle-Hotel--Casino

As I reflect back on this year and look forward to the next, I see great things for the gaming industry. This year saw a trend in poker that will change the way tournaments are run; tournament directors are moving away from multiple rebuys and re-entry events. For example, the Bicycle Hotel & Casino held a tournament with a $100,000 guarantee for a $150 buy-in last Friday, Dec. 4, that drew over 1,000 players and packed the casino. I introduced the re-buy concept years ago at the Normandie Casino and regret it to this day. In the old days, I was dealing with a limited amount of players in a small casino and had to get the numbers up. The concept served its purpose years ago, but it is not necessary today because the fields are so much bigger.

Another trend is the smaller buy-in tournament with a large guarantee, such as the so-called Colossus event held for the first time at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) this year. This tournament drew a record 22,374 players. Events like this are a great introduction for new tournament players. Though there was some controversy over first-place paying only $638,880 for the biggest live tournament in history, I am sure this year first place will be a million dollars if the WSOP holds this event again.

Speaking of the WSOP, Joe McKeehen, 24, this year’s winner of the WSOP Main Event, really put on a dominating performance. McKeehen had a great game plan, and it worked to perfection. Joe’s performance reminded me of Jerry Wang and his perfect play and decision making in the 2007 WSOP Main Event.

The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles opened a great hotel addition to their casino that rivals any property in Las Vegas and sets the stage for Los Angeles becoming the poker capital of the world. Several new casinos will open in 2016. The Garden in Hawaiian Gardens, California, will open its brand-new casino in late December or early January. According to David Moskowitz, CEO of the Gardens Casino, it will feature the largest event center for tournaments in Los Angeles. The new Hollywood Park casino is slated to open in September 2016 with an entertainment complex that will be a showplace for both poker and football. The NFL plans to build a new stadium at Hollywood Park that will host future Super Bowls. It’s a very exciting time for gaming in Los Angeles.

In 2015 we saw daily fantasy sports (DFS) explode on the gaming scene and will meet court challenges moving forward. DFS is gambling. It’s time to make sports betting legal like they have done in Europe and regulate and tax it. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted it’s time to legalize it. Speaking of the NBA, fans are seeing a great show in MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who are currently undefeated and are on track for a record-breaking season. Curry is currently the best basketball player on the planet and is changing the game. He may be the best ever in NBA history if he can stay healthy.

The new millennials are the future of gaming and are changing the way casinos market themselves. The millennials grew up with social media and playing video games. Traditional gambling does not appeal to them as much as it did to their parents. They are used to a more fast-paced, finger-tipped technology, and e-sports fits them perfectly. The e-sports industry is moving at warp speed and could provide players for Las Vegas for the next twenty years.

It’s time for casinos to rethink their marketing budgets and allocate more dollars to e-sports and poker. My hope for the upcoming year is that Las Vegas takes another look at how valuable poker players are to their property and use poker as a marketing tool. It’s time they look beyond the numbers and not worry so much about the bottom line.

In closing, as someone who has been in gaming for almost fifty years, I have seen a lot of exciting things this year. Watching American Pharoah win the Triple Crown was the best adrenaline rush I have had in years. I am also fortunate to watch the game of Omaha continue to grow in popularity. I will continue to promote it as I have for 45 years.

2016 will be an exciting year with casinos being planned across America. The future of gaming has never looked brighter. I’m proud and fortunate to still be a part of it. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” to receive notifications of new posts by email.

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Los Angeles Poker Explosion

Bicycle Casino Rendering

Bicycle Casino Rendering

The Los Angeles poker scene is undergoing a massive transformation. We keep hearing how poker is on life support, but that is certainly not the case in Los Angeles. There are currently four major expansions and renovations being undertaken in card rooms throughout Southern California.

With over 240 tables, Commerce Casino is the largest card room in the world. Established in 1983, Commerce features a full-service 200-room Crowne Plaza Hotel. Commerce has undergone a major renovation of its hotel rooms and continues to upgrade its facilities. It has recently added to its game mix the Lucky Rabbit Party Pit with Playboy Bunnies as dealers and servers.

The Bicycle Casino is scheduled to open a new hotel and spa at the end of the year. The new expansion will include a seven-story, 100-room hotel. It will feature a sophisticated cocktail lounge, top-notch brewery, an open sundeck with private cabanas and a luxurious spa with a salon, sauna and treatment rooms. I saw the renderings for the new facility, and I have to say it will rival any resort in Las Vegas.

“The Bicycle Casino and Hotel is proud to present our new suites and suite-size hotel rooms beginning this December. With our renovated casino plus new restaurants, we will give our patrons the superb services we have always provided,” says Leo Chu of the Bicycle Casino.

The Gardens Casino located in Hawaiian Gardens, California, is building the largest poker facility in the world with the goal to have over 300 table games in the not-too-distant future. The new project consists of replacing the current temporary tent structure with a two-story 202,111 square foot building.

David Moskowitz, a co-owner of The Garden Casino, told me when all phases are open, the Gardens Casino will become the largest card room in the world. Eric Hoffman, manager of the Gardens Casino, said the VIP poker section in the new casino will double in size from 17 high-limit poker games to over 34.

This brings us to the massive transformation of Hollywood Park. The racetrack may be gone, but Hollywood Park Casino is in the midst of a major revitalization that will transform it into the premier casino and entertainment destination in Southern California. While the complex undergoes a physical overhaul, the management at Hollywood Park is dedicated to making the transition to the new casino as smooth as possible.

Ramy Wahba, Director of Casino Operations at Hollywood Park Casino says, “I am blessed and fortunate for having assembled a great team of managers and employees who are making our journey to success much easier. Likewise, I must recognize our executive members for their progressive vision and the support they are providing for this development. I am confidently driving toward an unmatched level of success for Hollywood Park Casino.”

Hollywood Park Casino will open a new poker room in 2016 that will be the most state-of-the-art poker room in the world. The new Hollywood Park will offer movie theaters, condos, restaurants and a new entertainment complex which should draw huge crowds to the new complex.

Besides opening a new casino, they are building a sports complex that may see future Super Bowls played at Hollywood Park along with bringing over a new Los Angeles NFL team. Nothing will equal the planned Hollywood Park facility. It will rival City Center in Las Vegas when the project is complete. This is in keeping with Ramy Wahba’s motto: “Give more and expect less.”

Los Angeles poker will soon be the center of the poker universe. With so much planned for poker players in Los Angeles, you can see why if you’re a poker player or table games player, you will have over a thousand tables all within 20 minutes of each other in Los Angeles.

With this much competition for their poker dollar, the players will really benefit. If you’re a poker enthusiast or desire to become a professional poker player, you may have to consider Los Angeles as your base. It’s a great time to be a poker player in Los Angeles.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiards/casino marketing expert. Robert is most well known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has over 30 years experience in casino marketing and player development. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can also be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting and teaching.