Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Slotmaker: Baby Boomers, Seniors Still Gamble Most

May 24, 2009: summarized from MercuryNews -- Slot machine maker WMS Industries Inc. says older people still gamble the most at casinos, but young players and minorities are the future of the industry.

The results of a company effort to profile active casino patrons also show customers are less patient and feel more time-crunched than ever, the vice president of marketing for the Waukegan, Ill.-based company said.

"When people have zero tolerance for anything going wrong, it raises the game," Rob Bone of WMS said. "It's important for us to think through the minutiae of what that means."

WMS and marketing and research firm Ypartnership surveyed 2,000 people who had visited a casino at least once in the past year, finding that 48 percent feel they do not have enough time in general while 41 percent feel they do not have enough personal time.

It also showed that baby boomers and seniors make up more than 60 percent of all active gamblers, while minorities make up less than 10 percent-far less than their population in the United States.

Bone said those results show that casinos and slot machine makers will have to find ways to attract minorities to casinos in order to grow. He also said that casinos face a tricky transition between older gamblers who make up most of the market and younger patrons who want different kinds of experiences in casinos.

"We need to realize there's a firm stake in the ground happening and a huge opportunity," Bone said. "How are we going to evolve our business and are mindset for them (young gamblers) to be key slot players in the future?"

Bone said that one thing that might help a transition is that the survey found that gamblers are not as resistant to new technology as is commonly thought.

"We always think of active gamblers as not as astute and that's not the case," he said.

The survey said that gamblers more often than the general population said they had Internet access at home.

WMS earned $24.4 million, 43 cents per share, in its fiscal third quarter as its revenue surged 30 percent from the same three months one year ago despite the recession. Its revenue increased 5 percent to $180.8 million.

During the quarter, the number of machine units sold by WMS dropped to about 6,400 from about 7,800 a year earlier, but the average sales price rose to more than $14,800 from nearly $12,600.

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