Atlantic City’s millennial visitors spend two-thirds less on gambling than over-35’s

millennials-atlantic-city-casino-gamblingA new study of Atlantic City casino visitors shows that millennials spend two-thirds less money on gambling than older visitors.

New research by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming at Stockton University shows that millennials – defined as people between 21 and 35 years of age – spend just 8.5% of their total AC trip budget on gambling, versus 23.5% by visitors over 35.

The study involved over 500 individuals from 22 states, with around 350 of those surveyed meeting the millennial definition. Of the total number surveyed, 352 had visited AC in the past 12 months.

Around 21% of millennials said gambling was an important part of their visit, half the figure cited by the over-35s. On a chart of 28 activities, millennials ranked gambling 21st in importance while non-millennials ranked gambling in seventh place.

Worryingly, the survey authors questioned two millennial focus groups – one comprised of people in their early-20s and the other made up of late-20s and early-30s – and found that gambling wasn’t even mentioned until the authors specifically brought up the subject.

If money was no object, 35% of millennials said they’d spend more on gambling versus 50% of over-35s. The greatest disparity on this chart came from bars and nightclubs, as 50% of millennials said they’d spend more getting plastered versus just 17% of the over-35s.

However, in an encouraging note, when the millennial category is broken down by age, the willingness to spend more on gambling if money wasn’t a concern grew as millennials grew older, starting at 30% in the 21-25 group, rising to 33% for those aged 26-30 and topping 55% for those aged 31-35.

While millennials were far less likely to play slot machines (44%) than over-35s (72%), the figures for table games were nearly identical. Of those who did play table games, millennials held an edge in nearly every category, although slightly more over-35s reported gambling online than the millennial group.

The herd mentality clichés surrounding millennials were reflected in their preference for playing slots with friends or family, while more over-35s preferred to play alone. Among non-slots players, 38% said they’d give it a try if there was a group-play option.

Much has been made about the need to incorporate skill-based elements into slots in order to appeal to millennials, but both demographics expressed an interest in adding skill to slots. Among non-slots players, around 40% said they’d give the machines a second look if there was a skill component.

In terms of Atlantic City’s image as an entertainment destination, 45% of millennials said they held a positive or very positive impression, compared to 63% of over-35s. Participants who’d visited AC in the past year held a much more positive/very positive view (63%) versus those who hadn’t darkened AC’s door (24%).

Of those who didn’t visit AC in the past year, “expensive” was the second-highest reason for steering clear, followed by “not enough diversity of activities” and “negative reputation.” The survey’s authors said this underscored the need for AC businesses to provide midscale accommodation and casual dining options.