Even the small states get it right. Maine has committed to keeping the doors of it lone casino, the Hollywood Casino in Bangor wide open. The reason is they are experimenting with the idea of keeping the casino open 24 hours a day year round, which is a good one for many reasons.
There is a small downside to the experiment. The casino property is subject to state liquor laws, which prohibit the sale of alcohol after 1 a.m. For many potential gamblers, liquor and gambling are a combination of fun and relaxation.
It might have been better if the casino were to have been granted an exemption for this two week period to more accurately measure the casino’s potential, particularly in the early morning hours when casino traffic tends to dwindle.
- The timing is great. Many people and companies use the end of the year to take extended vacations or close up shop to save money and give the employees a break. That means extra time on people’s hands that has the potential to be spent at the casino. There will be extra money to be had in many instances, so people who rarely have the time to go and try out the casino have the opportunity.
- It is a foundation to potential expansion. The numbers will be closely watched during these last two weeks. If there is sufficient traffic into the casino, regardless of the time of day, it will signal a rising interest in the casino industry in Maine. The summer was suggested as an alternate time to experiment with the 24 hour schedule. Considering the location of Maine, it cannot too heavily depend on getting players from other states to go north to play. But if the experiment is successful, then analyzing where the gambling interest is coming from will point the state to the best location for its next casino.
- If the idea fails to generate sufficient interest, then the state can re-evaluate its overall position on casinos. The truth is, state operated casinos are not a good idea for every state. That has proven true in the short time states have been free to try out the idea. The state may lose a source of revenue, but it will gain the knowledge of what not to do when looking for new sources of revenue in the future. This is a good time for a state casino to fail as the general economy is gaining steam. Any revenue losses sustained by a failed casino have the potential to be recovered in the improving economy.
Officials maintain that New Years Eve is one of the busiest times of the year for casinos, so keeping Hollywood open during this last new years two week period was a planned success. Other than the summertime, this was the best opportunity the state had to evaluate the casino’s 24 hour potential.
The summertime would have had a drawback in that Maine is an outdoor vacation spot with its many beaches and mild summer climate. The timing would have been less indicative of the casino’s potential.
From a broader perspective, Maine is an ideal state to look at when evaluating a state’s potential for meaningful additional revenue. One rule of business is that success often depends on location, location, location.
Maine’s location is far from metropolitan areas or any densely populated areas. That means a significant majority of the state’s residents need to buy in to the idea of going to the casino on a regular basis.
Another consideration is why visitors historically go to the state. Maine is a getaway spot, meaning getting away from crowded places and compacted living spaces. Say “Las Vegas” and the first thought is gambling and fun. Say “Maine” and many people will have to look on a map to see if it is in the United States.
This is not a criticism of the state’s culture, but a consideration other states such as Wyoming and New Mexico need to consider before expecting addition revenue from state operated casinos
Casino advocates will say that gambling is about democracy and freedom. But government is more than a single issue, and so while there are states that can benefit from the added revenue, others do not have the numbers or the cash flow to make a successful go at it.
Maine is experimenting with its biggest casino’s future, and they have chosen the road to bigger payouts over playing it safe. The next big move will most likely be online…
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