Frank Floor Talk: New Year’s Wishes Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports · January 14, 2021 at 6:00 am Here are 10 resolutions wishes I would love to see the industry implement by the end of 2021. Hopefully, these wishes will have more success than my new year’s resolution of “no sweets.” That one failed halfway through Week One. COVID No More – While a few casino properties flourished during the pandemic, the general business climate has been dreadful, and the economic impacts are sure to linger even after the virus is defeated. Estimates vary, but most are saying we should see relief about the time the vaccines hit a majority of arms and next fall’s colors emerge. Keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully, the example of the 1918 Spanish Flu will be prophetic. The History Channel offers hope: “Somehow, despite a global flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans in 1918 and 1919, and a depression that gutted the economy in 1920 and 1921, the United States not only recovered but entered into a decade of unprecedented growth and prosperity. Americans began a spending spree: the Roaring Twenties.” With today’s technology (and vaccines), hopefully that turnaround will come in one year instead of three. Cleanliness Standards – Our casinos, restaurants and hotel rooms are now cleaner than ever. There’s no good reason not to continue the practices we’ve implemented the last several months. Machine and surface wipe downs should become everyday routines. I’ll be happy to lose the masks, but really hope the improved sanitation protocols remain. Revised Gaming Regulations – This is on my list every year. Why do we have standards that are outdated and provide no benefit to the industry? Is there anyone out there following the policy of reading every single progressive meter every day (even when some of those small jackpots of only a few dollars hit dozens and dozens of times daily)? How about the security standards on RNGs that are several generations out-of-date? (Even video games have tougher controls!) I won’t even mention the requirement to have a hard copy PAR sheet on hand when everything today is online (I suspect a file cabinet manufacturer slipped someone a few bucks to keep this one around). $1,200 Tax Reporting Threshold – Talk about out-of-date!!! See my separate story on this topic this month. This relic from 1977 has got to go. $5,000 should be the new number. Cashless Wagering – This could happen this year. “ACS PlayOn” has made it a reality on table games for several years, and now slot machine applications are popping up in test modes from coast-to-coast with Everi, Global, JCM, IGT, Sci Games and many other manufacturers entering the race. My wish is just to make sure these new products are secure, easy-to-use and don’t trigger problem gaming issues. ETGs – The pandemic may have helped this category reach the tipping point. It’s about time. Unlike some of the dire predictions from the old school pit bosses, these games could lead to another boom in traditional table games, not kill them. What new player wants to learn to play 21 on a $25 limit table? ETGs could be the best source of new players in the Pit for years to come. The argument about low limits not offsetting labor costs no longer applies when you can have unlimited spots available with a virtual or one live dealer. Just as online poker led to a boom in live Poker Rooms, ETGs could do the same for BJ, Craps and Roulette. Many Millennials already like table games: ETGs could sway entire generations. Trade Shows – Bring them back as soon as possible. “Zoom,” “GoTo” or “Google Meet” may be great for seminars and info sessions, but don’t you miss renewing friendships face-to-face, meeting new folks and learning where everyone is working now? (If anyone is selling programs that include a new roster, I’ll put in my order immediately.) Where else are you going to see today’s small products that could be tomorrow’s giants? Yes, the big booths are overdone and could be scaled back (put that saved money into R&D). Despite the sore feet, stressed vocal cords and never-ending demos of bonus features, these live shows are still vital to keeping current and connected. Hopefully, they’re back sooner than later (’21 NIGA may be a stretch, but G2E could still make it — please). Preventative Maintenance – Hopefully, everyone used their shutdowns to get ahead of this overlooked, but extremely important, basic requirement. Are your decals fresh or faded? How about your carpets or other floor coverings? Same goes for older slot glass. How about replacing those sticky buttons? Wish #2 (Cleanliness) will help, but PM is really our version of deep cleaning and restoration. Resolve to make it a priority this year and every year. Analytics – This is another annual wish. Spend the money on people and systems to achieve your best possible return. As below, that doesn’t mean tightening the slots. It means getting the best possible mix of products to generate the highest returns with the most popular games at a fair price. The good news is that if you don’t have the resources in-house, there are now organizations and software that can protect your data and make great recommendations. You just have to make the commitment. And make it a priority in 2021. Loosen ‘Em Up – Just before the pandemic hit, there were some encouraging signs that the other epidemic that has plagued Las Vegas (the spread of hidden resort fees, high parking charges and tight slots) was starting to diminish. It is my true hope that the economic pressure to recover the lost earnings of 2020 does not stop that trend. The short-term gains from gouging guests will never offset the long-term potential that derives from frequency and recency of visits. Fair prices keep the customers coming back more often and a lot sooner.