Casinos’ glam image part of the sales pitch

The young men and women, all dolled up for a night out, crowd around the craps table or slide up to the slot machines. Their faces look like they’re having the times of their lives.

If you believed their sometimes racy ads, you’d think all patrons of casinos look like the cast of Quantico. Young, attractive. Expressions ranging from sheer wonder to deadly serious – for those trying to keep a poker face amid all that excitement.

But in my recent visits to casinos in Ohio and Michigan to report on the potential for Georgia to legalize casinos, the crowds looked a bit different. And a lot older.

It wasn’t James Bond and Vesper Lynd stepping into the Casino Royale. The patrons were largely pensioners and people on early disability. Young people were in the casinos, but it wasn’t a suit and tie kind of crowd. More like jerseys and sweatpants.

The Horseshoe casino in downtown Cleveland. J. Scott Trubey/STAFF

The Horseshoe casino in downtown Cleveland. J. Scott Trubey/STAFF

Casino interests are pushing hard to change Georgia’s laws to allow Las Vegas-style gambling. The image they’re conjuring is of glamorous resorts with high rollers flocking in from around the world, high-end restaurants and the excitement of Atlanta holding prize fights.

Certainly, if there’s a requirement for at least one of the proposed resorts to cost at least $1 billion, the Las Vegas companies will build something spectacular. They’ll be luxurious, flashy and unlike anything Georgia has now. Many of their best customers no doubt will be gamblers with disposable dollars to wager.

But like the Georgia Lottery, a huge portion will also be people betting what they can’t afford.

In Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the paper examines Ohio’s embrace of casinos. The story largely focuses on the economic outcome for the state – the casinos there haven’t produced the jobs or tax revenue that backers promised.

Reader Comments 0

21 comments
MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

if you want to see  some other world-class casinos, go to Monte Carlo (and bring PLENTY) of money.

MichaelHannigan
MichaelHannigan

The group that is pushing to build the casino also manufactures a miraculous elixir that cures cancer, hepatitis C, AIDS, hemorrhoids, bad breath, etc.  It is sold individually and, of course, in case lots.  Do any of you know if this is available in the Atlanta area?  It's called "Snake Oil" (for some reason I don't know)., and I would like to get a GA distributorship.  If they can convince the clowns with the City of Atlanta to back a casino here, I sure as hell can sell millions of bottles of their miraculous oil.

Morning Dew
Morning Dew

Like SPLOST, outsiders will add to this revenue source. Unlike the other cities, we have a large convention business (top 5), The MART, and a sports destination that people come to Atlanta. Latest figure was 40 million visitors. This is not Cleveland or Detroit. Outsiders will pay the majority. The only place is the Underground area and not the TED. It will fail at the TED since it's too far from the masses. 

MrFish
MrFish

@Morning Dew  lol you are so ignorant it is funny. While there will of course be some outsiders going if a casino were ever allowed in Atlanta, most outsiders have a casino within a few hours of their own home. Thus, the luster and magic of days gone by are no longer. A casino here, like the ones in Ohio and Pennsylvania, will only drain the pockets of the local suckers.

RexHavoc
RexHavoc

@MrFish @Morning Dew Are you truly concerned for the pockets of the suckers?  Why would how someone else spends their money be any business of yours?

vespajet
vespajet

@Morning Dew Not all of the expected casinos that could be built will be aimed towards the tourist/convention market.  In Las Vegas (also a major convention market), there are casinos that are aimed primarily towards the locals, as they tend to avoid going to the casinos on The Strip of Downtown (unless they work at one of them).  Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming are the two major players in the locals market in Las Vegas and they promote their properties heavily on local TV and in the local newspapers.  Station Casinos in the last decade has built several casino resorts that were designed as mixed use projects with the casino resort being the anchor for it.  The locals properties tend to have amenities like movie theaters and bowling alleys.  Some even have chain restaurant offerings that elsewhere in the country would be on an out parcel of a shopping center.  


The most likely spot for a casino Downtown is on the GWCC campus or very close to it, not Underground Atlanta or Turner Field.   That puts the convention traffic as well as traffic for games at Philips Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium right on their doorstep.  

Stevennorton
Stevennorton

I'm afraid Mr. Trubey picked bad examples for his study on what a MGM $billion or a Sheldon Adelson $2 billion casino would do for Atlanta. The Ohio casinos and those in Detroit rely primarily on the local population, as do most of America's riverboat casinos. In order to see a real destination casino you need to visit any of the large Las Vegas or Macau casinos, the two Indian casino in Connecticut, the Borgata in Atlantic City, the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, either casino in Singapore or the Seminole Hard Rocks in Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale. Metro Atlanta has twice the population of the communities visited and has the World's busiest airport, Hartsfield, that would enable tremendous numbers of new tourists and conventioneers. Singapore approved two mega casinos to enhance international visitation, one by LV Sands. They opened in 2010 and have added 60%, or 6 million new visitors to that City State, while improving occupancies of the 35,000 rooms that were there previously. The regional casino, outside Atlanta could afford a higher tax rate, requiring a lower investment, but I could see $250 million to $500 million in annual taxes generated by the suggested 6 Georgia casinos. Mr. Trubey refers to your Lottery, and the number of low income residents who participate. But studies will show that resort casinos draw from a more affluent clientele, and there won't be thousands of places, located in every community, where you can purchase Power Ball or other Lottery games. Governor Deal and GA Legislators deserve to hear from persons, knowledgeable about the industry, to discuss the likely impacts of different types of casino development.    

MrFish
MrFish

@Stevennorton  thus you proved the fact that the market is over saturated. Thank you.
Go ask Tunica and Atlantic city as well as the Ohio cities, which if by the way, if you take in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, KY and other nearby populations within a couple of hurs drive, well them you see that your point is arse backwards.

vespajet
vespajet

@MrFish @Stevennorton Caesars Entertainment (along with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee) and the Poarch Band of the Creek will definitely try to stop casinos in Georgia since it would affect their operations (The Poarch Band is now trying to get a gaming compact with the State of Alabama that would allow them to offer more than the "BINGO slots" they currently operate.).  


Casinos in Georgia would also affect the gaming markets in Mississippi as well (Tunica's drop in revenue is related to casino gambling in Arkansas and how one racino in Arkansas has siphoned off customers from the Memphis area.).  


Atlantic City started to see a decline when Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun opened, but once the casinos in Pennsylvania opened, that's when things really went downhill.  Once Pennsylvania allowed table games, it was yet another nail in the coffin for AC.  This is why New Jersey has been lobbying to get the law on sports betting changed so they can start taking sports bets (When the act that limited the expansion of sports betting was passed, they had an opportunity to add it then, but failed to do so in the time period allotted.).  They've also talked of new casinos elsewhere in the state, but those would drive more nails into the coffin of AC.  


Even in Maryland, the casino benefits and revenues have not met expectations.  Caesars Entertainment is actually exiting their investments in casinos in Ohio and Maryland that they had with Rock Gaming, but are staying on to manage the properties.  



vespajet
vespajet

@Stevennorton To add to this, casino revenues in Macau have been down for quite a few months now due to a crackdown by the Chinese government on the junkets that supply the Macau casinos with players as well as Las Vegas style casinos opening up in the Philippines and travel from mainland China to the Philippines is not restricted like travel to Macau is.  Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore have been huge moneymakers for LV Sands and Resorts World even with the restrictions put in place on casino access to Singaporean citizens and resident workers.  The Singapore government gave the two companies a period of exclusivity but it doesn't look like they will be opening up the market to new operators when the exclusivity period expires.  South Korea as well as Vietnam are taking serious looks at expanding gaming in their countries and the Japanese are even considering legalizing casinos.  This would come at the expense of Macau, which for quite some time has been where operators like MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts have been making so much revenue that allowed them to keep afloat when Las Vegas revenues were down during the economic downturn.  

vespajet
vespajet

The thing about casino ads is that even the casinos in Las Vegas that cater to the locals make it look like all of the cool, hip and beautiful people play there (Some of the Stations properties like Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch do have a nicer clientele than say Sam's Town or Palace Station [Ask for the O.J. Simpson Suite.].).  Since it opened, the Palms has always portrayed itself as where the hip and trendy hangout;  the problem is that crowd is there only on the weekends.  



_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

Scott,

I'll be heading out to Las Vegas in December for a little investigative reporting myself.  If the AJC will spring for my expenses, I provide a 1000 words on the subject.

Rufus McGillicuddy
Rufus McGillicuddy

@_GodlessHeathen_- That's a great idea. I recently did the same thing by going to Vail, Colorado, to investigate and sample legal weed. I will definitely be going back for further "investigating". 

cinthea
cinthea

Why do people feel the need to stop businesses who are "taking advantage of poor people" - if that's how they want to use their money, let them. You don't see me going around telling poor people to stop giving to their church because their pastor wants a private jet - if that makes them happy, that's their life.


casinos will be fine in Georgia. don't like it? don't go. and there is a 100% chance, if you don't like it, that it wont be even close to where you live. 

vespajet
vespajet

@cinthea I go into a casino with the mindset that I'm there to have fun.  I view gambling as a form of entertainment as opposed to trying to win enough money to cover bills. 


In some places, the casinos offer cheap rates on cashing pay checks (some will even through in some free slot play as well) and of course the vast majority of those cashing their pay checks there will put some of it in the machines (which is what the casinos want them to do).  I had some friends that recently had the chance to walk around the recently closed Las Vegas Club on Fremont Street and there was a sign inside of the casino cage with a list of people and/or companies that were banned from cashing checks (One of the banned companies was the company that up until recently owned the Las Vegas Review-Journal.).  



druidhills
druidhills

@cinthea I bet you would say that if one was opening in your neighborhood. 

prarrd
prarrd

Harrah's Cherokee casinos in Tennessee are THE WORST!! They have the LOWEST payout ratio on their machines which is slang for "you almost never win".

vespajet
vespajet

@prarrd Harrah's Cherokee is in North Carolina.


The thing about tribal casinos is that no matter where in the country they are, they are tighter than the slots at the airport in Las Vegas.  

HCCynic
HCCynic

As long as a portion of the revenue goes to help offset my kid's college tuition, y'all have fun