Resisting the obvious

The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition

Much of my career after I left casino operations in 1990 has been observing, tracking and attempting to see and understand trends in the gaming industry.  And as I began my career as a consultant in 1990, it has encompassed a long and sustained period of growth and expansion in gaming.  In the beginning I stood on the sidelines and cheered every time a new jurisdiction authorized gaming.  In those days I saw each step of expansion as a validation of my own career and as a new opportunity to profit from the growth for me and my associates.  However, in the last few years I have begun to change my opinion and have become more afraid of the constant expansion, seeing in it, not opportunity or validation, but rather a threat to all of the existing operations and jurisdiction.  In both cases – the cheering and the booing – I was simply reflecting my own self interest.

The last few months I have been reading about Charles Darwin, his famous voyage and of course his thoughts on an ever evolving natural world.  Darwin developed his theories over years, first from his voyage on the Beagle, then from his close observation of plans and animals, experimentation in breeding birds and from his reading, one book in particular had an impact on the development of his theory; Principle of Population as it affects the Future Improvement on Society.  The author, Thomas Malthus had a major influence on Darwin’s thinking with his theory on population growth.  Malthus said the population – of every species, not just humans – was constantly expanding at rates that exceeded the expansion of the resources necessary for that population’s survival.  He theorized that eventually human society would disappear simply because we had eaten ourselves out of house and home.

Viewed in light of Darwin and Malthus’ theories, gaming is simply expanding at rates will insure it outgrows its food source – that is until there are more casinos than there are customers to sustain them.  It will not mean the death of an industry, but it will, as it always has in business, mean a thinning of the ranks.  It is a natural process, one that does not change in response to my cheering or booing.  Like many other people, I too often see gaming as something unique and special governed by laws and forces unlike any others, when in fact gaming is simply a business and as such is subject to all of the forces that affect any business, including life-cycles.

The gaming industry as we know it is not likely to ever completely disappear, but with ever-changing technology the look and feel of it will most certainly change.  Those smokey backrooms of the 19th century are becoming the computer screens of the 21st century.  And again, my thinking will have no impact on that evolution, the best I can to is see it for what it is and try and understand.


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August 2010
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