New Caesars CEO ‘shocked’ gaming industry doesn’t do more to lure Millennials

Mark Frissora, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment, takes part in a CEO round table at the Global Gaming Expo on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Sands Expo Center.

New Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora, in his most high-profile appearance since taking the helm of the casino giant, said today that casinos can do more to spur technological advancements that attract younger customers.

Frissora’s comments came during a round-table discussion with other industry executives on the second full day of the Global Gaming Expo, or G2E.

Frissora, who worked outside the gaming industry prior to joining Caesars this year, said he was “shocked” that casinos had not taken more innovative approaches to appeal to Millennials.

CEO Round Table at G2E

Gavin Isaacs, left, CEO of Scientific Games, and Bo Bernhard, right, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at UNLV, laugh as Mark Frissora, CEO/president of Caesars Entertainment, talks about beer pong during a CEO round table at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in the Sands Expo Center Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Launch slideshow »

In response to another point about whether there are too many casinos in some areas, Frissora said that’s only true when considering the existing customer base. He said there is an opportunity to “expand the pie” of customers by doing more to attract people casinos do not now serve.

Later in the conversation, he hinted at some of his company’s efforts along those same lines. Frissora said Caesars is developing a gaming space on the Strip with walls that can be adjusted. He was light on specifics, but described it as a “casino within a casino” where Caesars will experiment with an eye on the Millennial generation.

The appearance at G2E gave Frissora, the former chief executive of Hertz Global Holdings Inc., an opportunity to share his perspective as a relative newcomer to the industry.

He was joined by Gavin Isaacs, the CEO of Scientific Games Corp., and Greg Carlin, the CEO of Rush Street Gaming LLC. The discussion was moderated by Bo Bernhard, the executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.

The other executives on the panel also spoke about the relationship among casinos, technology and the younger customer demographic.

Carlin indicated that casinos can make some small adjustments to make sure their existing offerings are attractive to younger people, such as allowing cellphone use at table games.

More generally, Isaacs said, there should not be a major gap between what a customer can do on their computer and what they can do inside a casino. But getting young customers to play casino games should not be the only focus, he suggested.

Frissora returned to his point about technology after the panel concluded, telling reporters that a large opportunity remains to further connect social and mobile technology to casino games.

He also addressed the bankruptcy of his company’s Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. division, which controls Caesars Palace. The division filed for bankruptcy in January, and Frissora said he’s optimistic about the situation’s progress.

He said he hoped to see an agreement with second-lien creditors reached by the end of the year, after which it should take about six months for the division to exit bankruptcy, though he stressed the timing is beyond his control.

Frissora replaced former CEO Gary Loveman in July, but served as the company’s CEO-designate for a few months before that. Loveman is now becoming an executive at Aetna, according to an announcement from the health insurance company today.