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Survey of Millennials’ Entertainment Preferences Finds Opportunities for Atlantic City Market

Millennials, the nation’s largest population group, enjoy spending money on dinner and drinks or dancing and nightclubs, and would more be attracted to slot machines if playing them involved an element of skill, according to a study of their preferences released today by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism (LIGHT) at Stockton University in Galloway, NJ.

There are over 83 million millennials (those born in the U.S. roughly between 1980-2000), representing more than a quarter of the nation’s population and outnumbering the 75 million baby boomers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The preferences of this crucial demographic group regarding entertainment, accommodations and amenities is of major significance to the casino industry and to our region’s future economy,” said Rummy Pandit, executive director of LIGHT  “The study looks at millennials’ current preferences and behavior and also seeks to understand how that may change with technological advances and increases in their disposable income.”

Jane Bokunewicz, assistant professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management Studies, conducted the survey of over 500 millennials and non-millennials from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. About 350 of those surveyed were millennials.

“We’re excited that the institute can provide this kind of forward thinking and demographic analysis, which benefits the industry and the region,” said Tom Ballance, chair of the LIGHT advisory board, and president and chief operating officer of the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa.

Bokunewicz noted that millennials were most interested in casual dining and nightlife, and that less expensive accommodations such as midscale hotels and those found on Airbnb, an apartment-sharing app.  “All-inclusive” resorts also were cited as a consideration in both millennials’ and non-millennials’ travel planning. Free Wi-Fi was the top amenity cited by both groups in considering accommodations.

 More than 30 percent of millennials indicated that public transportation is important to them compared to only 7 percent for non-millennials in the study.

“The jitneys in Atlantic City are a selling point,” she said, adding, “Uber is important to this demographic.” The study recommended that Atlantic City “work with Uber and other ride-sharing companies to allow them to operate efficiently in the city without creating barriers to entry.”

Gambling was not as important to those under 35, with 21 percent saying it was important versus 42 percent of those over 35, Bokunewicz said.

However, 57 percent of millennials play table games such as blackjack, roulette and poker, while 44 percent play slots. Most prefer to play video slots with family or friends, as opposed to older gamers who play alone. Gamers of both age groups would like video slots to include an element of skill.

“I think the slot machine manufacturers are on the right track in developing these types of games,” Bokunewicz said.

Most of those surveyed in both age groups (352 out of 516) had visited Atlantic City in the past year, and 91 percent  of them viewed the city as positive, very positive, or neutral as a destination, compared to 74 percent  of those who had not visited.

The study cites a variety of opportunities to grow the resort’s business with millennials while retaining its customers in older demographic groups.

“Casinos, city planners and supporting businesses should focus on providing midscale accommodations and casual dining options to attract new visitors to the city,” the survey concluded.

The research received funding from the Borgata, Tropicana Casino and Resort, Resorts Casino Hotel, Harrah’s Resort and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).

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