Tattoos and Poker Latest Lure as American Casinos Court Younger Customers

Poker tables and tattoo parlors in casinos.

Mario Barth tattoo parlors, night clubs, and poker tables are among the list of things millennials are most drawn to in a casino. (Image: John Montone/1010 WINS)

Tattoos, as we all know by now, are so hip as to be commonplace these days, and nowhere more so than among the Millenial generation. Once reserved for sailors and prisoners, in the last 20 years, tattoos have become downright mainstream.

Now American casinos are using the popularity of the tattoo parlor, in conjunction with poker, to entice the next generation of gamblers to ante-up, according to a report published on ABC News.

Reviewing some of the recent trends that are popping up in gaming across the country, AP reporter Philip Marcelo found that the current wave of change sweeping the industry is a bid by casino marketing groups to appeal to 20-somethings.

Especially for this crowd, raised on Internet access and video games, the accessibility of online poker has always been seen as a primary driver for growth in the live casino world. And as these kids have learned the nuances of the game online, they also often migrate to brick-and-mortar cash games and tournaments.

In fact, one of the main reasons the World Series of Poker (WSOP) became swamped with players from around the world was the advent of online poker satellites, a reality which 2003 Main Event champ Chris Moneymaker turned into legend.

Casinos Relying on More than Online Gaming

However, with online poker’s popularity hitting a plateau (and in some cases, even a slump), casinos are now trying to pique the interest of the under-thirties in new ways.

According to Marcelo’s article, a number of casinos outside of Las Vegas are now using the “party” angle to attract younger customers.

For example, in January, Foxwoods renovated its casino bar so that it now houses a stage where bands perform on a weekly basis. The Connecticut casino also added a Mario Barth-branded tattoo parlor, Starlight Tattoo, to the casino floor in August of 2015. (For the uninitiated, Barth is a celebrated tattoo artist who’s clearly also seen that “hip and edgy” can translate to “loose with money.”)

These recent changes, in addition to adding more mainstream music acts, such as Tiesto, to its nightclub lineup, is part of the Foxwoods’ bid to become something more than a casino.

“It’s kind of like the party place. It’s really energized the casino floor,” said Foxwoods CEO Felix Rappaport.

Poker Seen as a Fashionable Game

Away from adding more non-gaming entertainment, casino bosses are also realizing the value of live poker.

In stark contrast to the scenes that many would have seen in the late eighties and nineties, when casinos were reducing the size of their poker rooms, venues such as the Twin River Casino are now adding tables.

Noted by Marcelo, the Rhode Island casino recently removed 247 slots in favor of increasing the number of poker tables inside the venue to 16. That would, at one time, have been tantamount to downright sacrilege to a casino’s financial division.

This shift from pure gaming to a complete entertainment culture isn’t without purpose, of course. A study carried out by a Washington, D.C.-based market research agency concluded that traditional casino floor fillers, such as slots, are generally seen as “antisocial” and “boring” by those in their twenties and thirties.

After all, images of blue-haired ladies with a cigarette hanging from their overly painted lips at those machines are probably not what this generation wants to attach itself to.

Of course, Las Vegas has long used the entertainment/gaming mix to pull in customers, but now it seems that this culture (and its enormous success story in Sin City) is spreading across the US and even to as far away as Macau.

Daniel Smyth
Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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