BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar business, employing close to two million people in the United States. Like many industries, it's had to survive tough times in recent years. The gaming industry is also facing another challenge: getting new and younger customers in the door.
"They're not necessarily as loyal as they once were to one particular brand," explained Kennedy Smith, Harrah's vice-president of marketing. "So they are going to go ahead and shop, per se', many different casinos to go ahead and figure out where they are going to go ahead and get their best offers."
Because of that, high tech machines with interactive features will be the norm in the coming years.
Todd Vieth is with slot machine maker Konami Gaming.
"A lot of technology is involved where a lot of the games probably won't even need a lot of electronics involved. It's all going to be on a server in some back room in your local casino," Vieth said.
Gaming industry officials know full well that the business is evolving rapidly, just as everything in America is changing these days. But they also know new players want to win based on something more than just luck.
"What skill based gaming will look like in the future is still an open question," Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith said. "Additional sports tournaments are certainly a possibility and so are video games are of great interest to Millennials. But the biggest opportunity, I believe, is the introduction of skill based games, or skill based elements within slot machine titles," Smith said.
The look and feel of casinos will need to appeal to Millennials as well, according to casino architect Tom Hoskens.
"Games of competition, games of challenges, games that will excite a younger generation because remember, they are multi-taskers. They are people who like a lot of action going on," Hoskens said.
If that can be done, the industry should thrive.
The Southern Gaming Summit wraps up Thursday. Several hundred casino executives from across the country are in Biloxi this week attending the event.