I had the chance to visit Atlantic City a couple of weeks ago when I visited an old friend who lives close to it and invited me to go and take a look at the Vegas of the east coast. Of course I had to do it, specially on a Saturday night. And so we drove there.
As we approached the city that was funded having the Monopoly Game as inspiration, a lot of advertising was shown on the sides of the highway, specially about the shows featuring artists from the past. Now that I think backwards, that started to create the atmosphere in my mind of what I was going to witness.
We arrived near midnight and saw the big hotels / casinos, some very similar from those in Vegas (i.e. Tropicana, Caesar’s Palace, etc) and then we chose one. We walked in and to our surprise it was pretty empty for that giant capacity it was designed and built.
Another interesting fact was that the people that was there were mostly elders. Forget about those images you have in mind with gorgeous young girls and people shouting to the dealer for more cards. None of that. Instead, a vague background calm music and even some people falling asleep over their sits. Of course it was winter and everything, but it was still a Saturday.
We had a couple of beers and since my trip was pretty much educational, I took a couple of pictures and then we were ready to go. We were on the entrance hall and then I saw it: small but multiple rooms filled with online dealers to host games or provide support for those playing online. Everything was there when we got in but I didn’t notice until we were going out: selfservice stations and digital kiosks to call people (specially the elders) to start playing online.
Then it all made sense: this industry has been clearly already disrupted and importantly! Gambling is now digital as even Casinos have their online version of gambling and I bet that makes the most part of their profits. Mostly the elders are left for the real experience, and that’s maybe because it’s more difficult for them to catch up with technology (I bet they would be more confortable gambling from their beds).
As I was thinking about this, it came to my mind that just a couple days before, I attended to a Conference in New York around Business Agility and the speaker was an HR Manager of a online gambling company that was already using agile to create their digital products. I’m sure they are doing a great job understanding the customer point of view and designing the right experience for them. But somehow I though that maybe the elders public might not be included in that vision. Maybe it would require diferente interfaces other than small and complicated smartphones as well as confusing websites.
As we were leaving the city I noticed something that was not on my radar when we arrived: a lot of hotels and casinos were closing (forever) or being demolished and a lot of houses were empty.
It looks like that dream of a casino city has also its days counted in this digitally-driven world.