Duetto: Professional sports transforms Las Vegas from gaming to entertainmentBuck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · December 23, 2017 at 1:18 pmWhen the history of gaming is written, 2017 will be viewed as a pivotal year for Las Vegas. The entertainment capital took another evolutionary step as added major professional sports.For Atlantic City and regional casinos throughout the country, 2018 could be game changer for them as well in attracting more customers if the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling allowing the proliferation of sports betting beyond Nevada.That’s the take of Marco Benvenuti, co-founder and chief marketing strategy officer of Duetto, a Las Vegas-based software company that provides e-commerce solutions for the hospitality industry.Duetto recently released its first-ever Commercial Casino Market Report showing the gaming industry in the U.S. is showing no signs of slowing as casinos and electronic gaming expands to more states and sports betting waits in the wings.“Las Vegas, Atlantic City and the regional (casinos) are doing pretty well,” Benvenuti said. “We going to see even more growth in 2018, especially in Vegas as they absorb the bad feeling about the (Oct. 1st mass shooting in which 58 people were killed by a lone gunman). All of that will be digested and 2018 should be a better year than 2017 with visitation, and that’s going to keep growing.”Las Vegas, Benvenuti said, is transforming from the gaming capital to the entertainment capital. The Golden Knights of the NHL started play in October. Earlier in the year, the NFL approved a move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in 2020, Site work is underway for a $1.9 billion stadium funded in part by hotel taxes. The WNBA announced a team relocating from San Antonio will be called the Aces and play its games at Mandalay Bay. It’s owned by MGM Resorts International.“People are spending more and more of their entertainment dollars on other stuff that’s not table games and slot machines,” Benvenuti said. “It’s hotel rooms, food, shows, clubs and now professional sports.”In Clark County, gaming revenues produced by non-restricted casinos only account for 41 percent of all revenue. For resorts located on the, Strip the figure is 34 percent, according to Las Vegas research firm Applied Analysis.“The hockey team is doing well and selling out every game,” Benvenuti said. “You will see more and more money go for entertainment dollars. The pie is going to grow, and we might one day see where there is an 80-20 split of revenue. It doesn’t mean that customer who comes in isn’t going to touch gaming. It’s still going to be part of the experience. It just means they aren’t going to gamble 10 hours a day like they did 15 to 20 years ago but three hours a day at a higher rate before going to a Raiders Game or Golden Knights game or a show then drop $3,000 on a dinner and $10,000 in a club.”The future of the gaming industry is about developing a niche that makes people want to go to a casino. Las Vegas has competed against the proliferation of slots and gaming over the last two decades by becoming the only locale in the world where the 360-degree experience is provided, he said.“This is important for Vegas to keep up and go to the next level, and I believe professional sports is the next wave,” Benvenuti said. “Before you had the Vegas of shows and restaurants and then it moved to night clubs and now it’s moving to the Vegas of pro sports. And I think the Raiders will take it to another level.”Benvenuti said he foresees fans with tablets and phones placing bets at the Raiders game they are watching from the spread but also propositions on the outcome of plays.Landing the Raiders means Las Vegas will get a Super Bowl in the new stadium. In addition to UNLV, it’s expected to land regular season college football between national powers and could ultimately land the Pac 12 conference championship game. The stadium might also lead to Las Vegas hosting a Final Four in the NCAA hoops tourney. Las Vegas already hosts the Pac 12 conference basketball tournament as well as the Mountain West tourney and those of other smaller conferences.Benvenuti cited the experience of attending a Golden Knights hockey game. Many thought hockey in Las Vegas would lack excitement and not many people would attend but putting T-Mobile Arena on the Strip has created an experience that isn’t found anywhere else.“Now you have folks from opposing teams that might not travel to a hockey game when their team plays on the road but will make a trip to Vegas,” Benvenuti said. “Cities like Vegas as a destination need to find a hook to get people to come back to get people to come back and have something that can’t be replicated at the local, regional or tribal casinos that are an hour or two from their homes. That is the power of Vegas.”The WNBA isn’t as big as other professional sports but adding women’s professional basketball, which starts play in May and goes through September, ensure professional sports throughout the year, Benvenuti said. The Las Vegas Lights Football Club in the United Soccer League starts its inaugural season in February.Benvenuti said he expects the NBA to be the next professional sports team in Las Vegas playing at T-Mobile Arena. The NBA said there are no plans for expansion or relocation of franchises at this time.“You already have the NBA Summer League and if you add the NBA, it becomes a sports mecca where everyone will want to come to watch sports, gamble, eat great food, shop and go to a club. There is no other place in the world you can do that within walking distance.”The Duetto report cited the “huge potential” for the gaming industry expansion and growth if single-wager sports betting is allowed beyond Nevada’s borders in 2018. That would bring more revenue to casinos and take it away from bookies and offshore gaming sites. The American Gaming Association says there is a $150 billion sports betting market in the U.S., 97 percent of it outside Nevada.The U.S. Supreme Court heard testimony in December on a case brought by New Jersey. Legal analysts speculate the high court could overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which was passed by Congress in 1992 to restrict sports wagering.While live sports is changing the landscape of Las Vegas, Benvenuti said if the Supreme Court legalizes sports betting and states approve it, that changes the landscape in Atlantic City in New Jersey and other states as long as bets are required to be placed in person rather than by phone or via internet.“If it’s done in casinos, then it’s big for Atlantic City,” Benvenuti said. “The more it’s integrated with a live environment the millennials will like. The casinos will need to invest more to adjust the experience and tailor it to sports betting.”As far as his company, Duetto has built a revenue strategy platform that enables hotels to maximize rates and provide personalized content and pricing to patrons that book with the hotel, Benvenuti said.The changing landscape of casinos from less gaming centric to more entertainment centric is what Duetto said they’re focusing on, Benvenuti said. They’ve tried to make casinos aware that online travel agents are eroding margins. In competitive markets like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, companies need to “get up to speed how to market and recapture customers through their own channels,” he said.