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Casino Windsor - Still Alive and Kickin'

26 July 2000

The predictions were dire. When the voters in the State of Michigan approved Proposal E, authorizing three casinos in the City of Detroit, there was almost unanimous consensus on who the big loser would be - Casino Windsor. The thoughts were that given the opportunity to gamble in their own country, Americans would stay home and not cross the border for their entertainment. Recent statistics demonstrate that Casino Windsor and the whole Windsor community have not only held their own in the face of two Detroit casinos, but have actually seen an increase in the number of tourists coming to the area. A few weeks ago, Statistics Canada released a report showing that Windsor and Essex County attracted over 9.1 million people in 1999, with close to 8 million visitors from the United States. This made Windsor the top tourist community in Ontario, well surpassing Niagara Falls, Toronto and Vancouver.

Furthermore, Casino Windsor's recent release of its third quarter (October through December 1999) performance, showed a monthly average gross gaming revenue of $64.6 million (Canadian), with a three quarter total of $648.1 million (Canadian). At that rate, Casino Windsor's total annual revenue will exceed $864 million (Canadian). Even with the exchange rate, it is clear that Casino Windsor is maintaining its success. Over 17,000 people visit the casino daily, helping provide jobs to 5121 employees.

There are dramatic lessons that can be learned from Casino Windsor. In the face of the threat of new competition, most businesses would make cost-cutting moves and would seek to be lean and mean. Casino Windsor took a contrary approach aggressively embracing the new competition and examining its own operation and finding ways to improve. It invested in the latest and greatest games, carefully examined its customers' preferences and tailored its property accordingly. A good example of this is the new "Poker City" section of the casino, which has one of the largest devoted sections of video poker machines I have ever seen in a casino.

At a time when the gaming industry viewed this area as nothing more than a "regional market" that would not attract a lot of high rollers, Casino Windsor shrewdly took advantage of its knowledge of this market by going all out to cater to this segment. Realizing that this region includes one of the wealthiest counties in the United States (Oakland), Casino Windsor vastly expanded its high roller area, creating two private lounges and the Cache' Restaurant which are available only to these players. This, coupled with the advantage that Casino Windsor has in having an on-site hotel that has recently earned a four star rating, has Casino Windsor developing a strong high roller customer base for this property. Any casino executive who still doesn't believe that there are high rollers in this region should go through the high limit area during off-hours.

Casino Windsor's continuing strong performance bodes well for the opening of Greektown Casino, L.L.C. It demonstrates that this market has not reached its saturation point. As permanent casinos are developed with deluxe hotels and conference space, the area will begin to attract more visitors from a further distance. As the tourism statistics from Windsor demonstrate, casinos are a big draw and will give Detroit the opportunity to showcase all of the other encouraging changes that have occurred and are in the process of occurring.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com