Lessons From The Road: What We Can Learn From Northwest Casinos
As the summer season peaks, according to AAA, more people are on the road than ever before, traveling to their favorite summertime destination. Many of these stops now include Indian gaming resorts.
In June I did a Raving road trip throughout the Northwest, visiting tribal casinos near Seattle, then heading south, through Oregon to Northern California. The impetus was our participation at the Northwest Indian Gaming Conference & Expo, organized by the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA).
Nothing can replace seeing first-hand the challenges and opportunities in Indian country. Many exciting new projects and innovations are happening in the NW, including the Ilani Casino Resort (the photo to the right was taken by my Mom on opening day) operated by the Cowlitz Tribe and servicing the Portland-Vancouver area. It was great to have a chance to catch up with the leaders who now, after 17 years of work and much controversy, have realized their dream of operating a gaming facility.
One of my stops, Muckleshoot Casino, introduced me to the first wireless virtual reality gaming in North America. Raving Strategic Partner Daniel Wood and I teamed up to kill zombies. What a blast – see our video here – and yes, that is me screaming and jumping for my life. You can ask Daniel, the former cop, who won. This is a great example of a property innovating for the future. I also managed to sample beer at the Feather Falls Casino Brewing Company (read our original article here) – what a great story this is.
During my two-week road trip, I visited Win-River Resort & Casino, Seven Feathers Casino Resort, The Mill Casino, 7 Cedars Casino, Tulalip Resort Casino, Angel of the Winds Casino Resort, Rolling Hills Casino, Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Feather Falls Casino, and Muckleshoot Casino. Here is what I learned:
Competition is the number one concern across the Northwest
Golf and Technology
Our players demand more
Smaller properties can exist next to the bigger ones and even thrive
Everyone is struggling to find and retain qualified staff
It’s an exciting time in our industry. The overwhelming support the NW tribes provide to each other is unique, and these powerful alliances are needed moving forward. Collaboration, technology, targeted amenities, guest service, and investment in human resources will play a greater role in our futures.
We’ll be tackling these topics and more at Raving’s 20th National Indian Gaming Analytics and Marketing Conference this January. Stay tuned for open registration and our agenda coming out next month.
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