WRAPPING UP MARCH MADNESS FOR YOU: MIMS TOP FIVE BBALL TEAMS
Jim Van Stone of Monumental Sports talks with Mims on Capital One Arena Sportsbook & More!
Two weeks ago, I experienced the model for all arenas and stadiums that plan to offer sports betting on their premises. I am talking about MSE in the Capital One Arena in Washington DC. I enjoyed the District on Saturday as some of the things to do within a 5-block radius of the Arena include checking out the Martin Luther King Library, Ford’s Theatre, and the Smithsonian Institute. The restaurants are top notch, and I would have breakfast at the Lincoln Waffle Shop every morning if I lived in DC. So, what sets the sports betting apart from their competitors in the region is there is more to do than just bet on the games. The international feel of the city lends itself well to any traveler or tourist with a family.
I was able to speak with Jim Van Stone, the President of Business Operations and Chief Commercial Officer for Monumental Sports and Entertainment. I met Jim about 4 years ago at Temple University during their executive leadership and lecture series. We were in contact at the 2021 G2E and I said that I would like to interview him or check out the William Hill Sportsbook in the Capital One Arena. Jim suggested not only that we do both but to be his guest at a game. I always like watching Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz play, so it was an easy choice for me. This was also my first time watching All-Star Guard Bradley Beal in person. Prior to the game, Jim took me on a tour of the sports book and answered the following questions.
Mims: Tell the readers about the strategy to introduce the fans of the Wizards and the Capitals to Sports Betting?
JVS: We decided to have telecasts of the games with that were centric to sports betting. We were the first to have a broadcast where the viewers could choose between a traditional feed and one with sports wagering information. This created interest and prepared the fans for the experience of sports betting in the District.
Mims: There were many qualified sports betting operators that wanted to partner with MSE. What made William Hill the right choice?
JVS: We did our homework and became familiar with the sports betting landscape before making a decision. We made investments in DraftKings and Sportradar. We eventually narrowed down to a group of seven finalists. We did an RFP or Request for Proposal with that group. We chose William Hill because we felt they were aligned with our core values. Caesars was a close second. So, we were pleased when they acquired William Hill. The lease is for 10 years.
Mims: What is foot traffic like in the Sportsbook on the day of a game?
JVS: We have people arriving 1-2 hours before the start of the game. They also stay afterward to enjoy the sports book and to wager on games that are starting later the West Coast. They have the capability to download the app to use on their phone or tablet. The app is functional within a two-block radius of the Capital One Arena.
Mims: What has changed because of the addition of Sports Betting?
JVS: Washington DC is an international city. The implementation of… read more
Philadelphia Casino Updates: Mims interviews Chris Albrecht of Harrah’s and Justin Moore of Rivers
Chris Albrecht has been the Senior Vice President and General Manager for Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester since September 2016. He has been in the gaming industry since July 2005. Prior to Harrah’s Philadelphia, Chris served as the Assistant General Manager of the Horseshoe Hammond property, where under his leadership, the property achieved strong financial and service results.
Chris also held the position of Assistant General Manager of Horseshoe Cincinnati where he assisted with hiring 1,700 team members and managed the successful grand opening in 2013. With several years of operational and administrative experience, Chris has also served as the Vice President and Executive Associate to the Central Division President, Director of Compensation & HR Effectiveness at Caesars Corporate office and as the Director of Slots in the Las Vegas Market.
Chris oversees the day-to-day operation of the Harrah’s Philadelphia. Chris earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Justin spent the first sixteen years of his casino and gaming career in the world’s gaming epicenter – Nevada. He began his career in the casino industry in 1999, as a food server in Mesquite. He then joined Station Casinos, the leading “locals” casino and resort company in the Las Vegas valley, where he worked in the areas of food & beverage and slot gaming.
In 2015, Justin was recognized for his wealth of professional accomplishments and named to the Las Vegas 40 Under 40…and in 2016, he was named Mentor of the Year by the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) for his commitment to helping UNLV students learn how to succeed in the industry.
Justin moved to the NY Capital Region in 2017, to take on the role of Vice President of Operations at Rivers Casino & Resort. Just two short months later, he was promoted to Vice President & Assistant General Manager. In April of 2021, Justin assumed the role of General Manager at Rivers Casino Philadelphia.
What was your biggest takeaway from the G2E last month in Las Vegas?
Chris: My biggest takeaway is that the industry is thriving and there will be exciting new products for us to offer in 2022 and beyond. Many of the vendors are making updates and tweaks to their most popular product lines that will certainly resonate with our customers.
Justin: Efficiency. This year was the most productive trip to the gaming show I have had since moving away from Las Vegas. I enjoyed the luxury of less crowds to fight with, so I could experience the games. The G2E team should strongly consider placing a cap for the number of passes that are available for the show in the future.
Cashless wagering was a hot topic in Las Vegas and again at the East Coast Gaming Conference. Do you expect it to gain traction in the next 2 years?
Justin: Yes, I do. The presence of online wagering and the pandemic has made this topic grab the attention of the operators. For many in the industry, this was not a topic that was considered because our players like having cash in hand. Now that most people own a smart phone, adding services like cashless wagering have become a necessary convenience. For many customers, cashless transactions are a bare minimum expectation for consumers.
Chris: Absolutely. I believe there will be a period of both cash and cashless options within the casinos, but cashless is here and growing. We are behind most industries on the cashless front and the growth of online gaming has helped push customer and regulatory comfort with cashless going forward.
The lack of employees is hurting all industries. Do you see light at the end of the shortage tunnel?
Chris: I do see some light. We have witnessed an uptick in applications these past few months but still have a long way to go to get back to pre-pandemic levels.
Justin: Yes and no. I believe most markets will see their
open positions reduce over time. Businesses must remember not to apply long term solutions for a short- term problem. Markets that have emerging casinos (like NYC and VA) may have a longer road to recovery considering the human capital demand a new casino will attract.
The concerns about Covid and mandates are affecting the casinos. Have most of your core customers return to playing on property and have you noticed a different in their levels of play?
Justin: We have not fully recovered from the pandemic and the effects the virus has had on our business. We still have city -mandated restrictions like wearing masks when other casinos and attractions in our own market do not have the same conditions. Our market has seen an explosion in the iGaming sector for PA and NJ, a brand-new casino opening, and a smoking ban. When the restrictions are lifted, we expect to see some familiar faces that are loyal to the Rivers Casino brand
Chris: We saw different periods of return from our core guests over the past year and a half depending on their comfort level. It is always great on weekends to see a familiar face you have not seen in some time. While we saw a bit of pent-up demand and play up when we first came back, most guests have settled back into their usual play levels.
The elephant in the room or the city is Live Casino Philly. How has their entry into the market changed the gaming landscape?
Chris: Taking Philadelphia from a 4-casino market to a 5-casino market has certainly changed the landscape. With any new entrant, you would hope they can grow the market overall. We have seen that more on the Tables side than the Slots side so far which makes sense given their location.
Justin: They have grown the market and introduced another competitive option for gambling consumers. Competition is great for the guests because it adds accountability to the operators of the existing casinos. The casinos will all need to make evasive maneuvers by aggressive offers, entertainment, events, and amenities changes. Each casino in our market offers something unique for their guests in their “backyards” that will help them maintain their loyal visits. Innovation and value will be key if the casinos are able to compete for guests beyond their 5-mile radius.
Sports Betting is getting everyone’s attention. Describe the experience a customer can expect if they come to your property for the first time?
Justin: They will love our sports book as much as I do. Our BetRivers Sportsbook is a marquee amenity for us. Everything is perfect, from our comfortable chairs to the state-of-the-art HUGE screen. I lived in Las Vegas for 20 years, so I have seen a few of the best sports books in the country and BetRivers is right there with them.
Chris: We are excited to see the growth of sports betting and love having the opportunity to cater to the Philadelphia sports fan at our property. The primary experience for the sports enthusiast is to come to our Caesars Sportsbook with our comfortable lounge seats, giant screen matrix, and over 45 TVs to watch. We also have kiosks and TVs to watch the games at our food outlet, Philly Tap & Tavern, and at our center bar on the casino floor. We also have our relaunched Caesars Sportsbook app to take the fun home with you.
What is your favorite restaurant in Philly?
Chris: So many great choices. I am a fan of several Stephen Starr concepts and as a steak person would have to say Barclay Prime.
Justin: Unfortunately I haven’t ventured into the city too much since moving here 8 months ago. However, I had an amazing experience at South restaurant. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere was top notch. The service I received there was world class, and I can’t wait to go back there again.
What message would you like to convey to your employees and staff as you approach the holidays?
Chris: First and most importantly is a message of appreciation – for not only coming back to our team through a challenging time, but for stepping up and taking on more responsibility to make our property a comfortable environment for each other and our guests. Also, as nice it was to be able to give everyone extra family time last year during our second closure, I look forward to celebrating together through the holiday season and into New Year’s Eve this year!
Justin: Enjoy! The holidays are a special time for us to reflect, love, and share. Live in the moment with those you love the most.
Next Inside view from me to you will come from one of the premiere gaming conferences that is taking place in the Meadowlands and in New York City next week. Follow me at SBC. Tweets on Twitter and photos on Instagram.
Gaming Guy Mims Starting Strong with this years Games...
We have over 20 years of casino operations experience with the last four years acquiring knowledge of the I Gaming community. This combination has set us apart from other gaming sites as our expertise and blog posts will attest. Please feel free to read our previous work. You can follow us here, on Twitter and on Facebook. We will navigate you toward a rewarding online gaming experience.
We write and post about online gaming, sports betting, poker, e sports and casino entertainment. This includes the games, events and operators that are associated with the aforementioned topics. The team has 20 years of casino operations experience with the last five years acquiring knowledge of the I Gaming community. The collaboration of nutrition, statistics analytics and professional engagement will heighten your awareness about 21st century gaming. The approach that makes us unique is that we emphasize smart responsible gaming. We believe that one facet cannot exist without the other.