With so much happening every week in the online casino market as we report here at Slots Play Casinos, it might be easy to overlook what’s happening in the land based casino market. In fact, online casinos and land based casinos are two sides of the same coin. Whereas online casinos specialize in the number of games they offer, the many casino bonuses they offer, and the convenience they offer especially on their mobile platforms, land based casinos offer a holiday experience with shows, restaurants, and hotels.
Openings and Closings
It really doesn’t make the news when an online casino opens or when one closes. However, it is quite newsworthy when a land based casino opens or closes. Local economies rely on the hundreds or thousands of jobs land based casinos bring. Many other local businesses profit when there is a successful land based casino in the area.
One Opening and One Closing
So, in this news report, we will talk about one land based casino opening and one closing.
The first Casino Morongo opened in 1995 in Riverside County in Southern California. It lasted until 2004 when its sister casino, the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa opened across the highway. Both are under the direction of the Morongo Indians.
The reason that the original Casino Morongo closed as a casino was simply that the Morongo Indians saw that the future lay with a full campus of services and products. Thus the casino resort and spa offers far more than just casino gambling.
When the original casino was emptied of all its tables and machines in 2005, it was used for bingo, bowling, and special events.
Significance of the Reopening
The new original Casino Morongo now has 300 slot machines but it isn’t the new slots that make this reopening significant. What is significant is that the kitchen and bar area have been completely renovated. The kitchen will not be a luxury dining venue but features high end fast food and some menu items made from scratch on the spot, using fresh ingredients. The bar area has video poker terminals embedded in the bar top itself and about 30 large screen televisions. We can expect the televisions to show sports primarily.
Thus, the Morongo Indians are preparing for when they will be able to file for a license to offer sports betting. The improvements in the restaurant also point to the new generation of gamers who want to have fun at the games and then to quiet down with a well-prepared repast of good food. The food may be fast food to a large degree but it will be at the high end of fast food in terms of quality. Gamers have become much more sophisticated than in the past and expect every service they receive and everything they buy to be of the highest quality.
Change in Just Thirty Years
Robert Martin, tribal chairman for the Morongo Indians, spoke about the great achievement for the Indian Tribe in operating two casinos. Over the years, the casinos run by the Morongo Indians have brought in thousands of local jobs and billions of dollars to the local economy.
Martin spoke about the significance of this development for the area and the tribe: “We’ve come a long way since the days of the modest tribal bingo hall we operated in the 1980’s.” In a mere thirty years or so, the tribe has gone from small time bingo operators to casino “magnates”.
Morongo Casino, Resort, and Spa
The Morongo Indians went from running a tribal bingo hall to operating a casino to operating a much larger enterprise than a mere casino. The resort and spa point to the advance of the Integrated Resort concept to North America. The resort has five excellent restaurants, bars and pubs, a pool, and meeting rooms. It may not yet be a full-fledged Integrated Resort but it is far more than a casino in the Southern California desert.
The other side of the coin is that even in the casino market, too much of a good thing is not such a good thing. Thus, Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation announced that it will close the Tunica Roadhouse Casino in Mississippi. The reason given was “persistent declines in business levels in the area stemming from increased competition” meaning that there are already too many casinos in northwestern Mississippi just to the south of Memphis, Tennessee. The large number of Delta casinos means that while there may be the same number of casino gamers as before, the casinos can’t profit enough to warrant staying open.
The casino will close officially on January 31st. Until then, all gaming operations will continue as they always have. About 150 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closing and Caesar’s has said that it will help them find new jobs possibly in Caesar’s other local casino, the Horseshoe Tunica.
After the Roadhouse Casino closes, there will still be seven casinos in the Tunica area.
The Significance of the Closing
The local Memphis newspaper, The Daily Memphian, reports that other casinos in the Tunica area will probably close as well. As we quoted above, one reasons given for the closing is increased competition. Although news reports didn’t mention it, one aspect of the competition that the Delta casinos cannot compete with is that the casinos of southern Mississippi have embraced legal sports betting.
It is likely that many sports bettors will drive the extra hour or so to get to south Mississippi where they can bet on sports and as long as they’re already there, make some bets on the full range of casino games.
None of the Delta region casinos is big enough to compete with the Gulf Coast casinos in the south. Insiders are now saying that the number of casinos in the Delta region will continue to decrease until a viable consolidation will have taken place.
Another aspect of the competition the Delta casinos of Mississippi are feeling is that Arkansas is just over the river from Mississippi and Arkansas recently decided to allow casino gambling in the state.
The bottom line is that no one really knows when the number of casinos in an area will oversaturate the market. Sometimes it costs millions of dollars to find out.