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Gaming Guru

 

Casinos Can't Win the Parking Debate

4 October 2000

Late last year, MGM Grand Detroit announced the opening of its new parking structure around the time the MotorCity Casino opened with its convenient attached parking garage. It wasn't long after that the critics started in, suggesting that having such structures made the casinos "isolated" and failed to benefit the surrounding businesses and communities.

Fast forward 10 months to this year and the long-anticipated Greektown Casino opening. Now, the critics have changed their focus and are worried about the lack of sufficient attached parking for Detroit's newest casino. This criticism comes despite the fact that Greektown has mapped out and identified parking lots in the surrounding blocks to more than adequately supply the casino. Now the concerns focus on requiring patrons to walk through the popular Greektown district, past all the shopping and restaurants, just to get to the new casino. The worrywarts wonder how Greektown will survive in the face of competition with attached parking and are already speculating that there will be a major problem.

What they are missing is that Greektown is selling a whole experience, a night on the town in a unique setting rich in history and ethnic pride. The casino is going to make its mark by being a part of this overall experience, and by attracting new customers who wouldn't necessarily make the trip just to gamble. The key for Greektown Casino will be to make the casino experience so fun for these customers that they come back and bring their friends.

My first visit to a casino years ago was like this. When friends suggested that my wife and I would enjoy Las Vegas, I told them that I had no interest in gambling. I ended up going mainly for the entertainment options (including seeing Diana Ross in a showroom setting). Once I got to Las Vegas and tried my luck, almost instantly all the negative stereotypes from my mid-western upbringing were shattered. I realized that enjoying the casino experience can be harmless fun. I did not get hooked on gambling. What I discovered is that casino gambling can be fun - at a price. Just like golf, skiing or many other forms of entertainment.

The numbers from the two open Detroit casinos have flabbergasted Wall Street analysts. Yet, the market has yet to reach its full potential. The true strength of this market will be all those mid-westerners who visit a casino for the first time as the end of a night of fun in Greektown. Once they all shatter the negative stereotypes in their minds, the Detroit/Windsor market will fully blossom.

Hopefully, as the myths about casino gambling are shattered as more and more people visit casinos for the first time, the hypocrisy of the criticism levied against casinos will become apparent. It has never been more obvious than it is in this current "parking" debate. No matter what the casinos do, there will be critics with hidden agendas. Casino management cannot control this and is right to focus on the job at hand and do the best it can for customers, the community and shareholders. In the end, as society becomes more progressive in its thinking, casinos will be seen for what the are - another entertainment option. Hopefully, someday, the contributions that this industry makes toward the betterment of communities will receive at least as much attention as unfounded criticisms.

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