The Top 10 Gaming Buzz Phrases

Top 10

Can you guess …

which buzz phrase took the #1 spot in 2016?

The gaming industry has always had its own unique language. Words like “tokes,” “early out,” “EDR,” and “george,” I believe, originate in our industry. I know that “slot hopper” must have. (Google it.)

In addition to this gaming vocabulary, I have increasingly started to notice that every year there is a ranked order of “buzz phrases” in gaming, you know, just say the phrase and you will get an immediate reaction from gaming insiders, either positive or negative.

In past years, these buzz phrases might have included, “Ticket-In, Ticket Out,” “Server-Based Gaming,” “Kiosks,” “Participation Games,” “Transmissive Reels,” and “Penny Slots.” Just say the words and you were sure to evoke a response.

I have taken the responsibility of scouring the current gaming landscape for this year’s buzz phrases most apt to strike a chord (or a nerve) with gaming execs. Somebody has to do this stuff.

In coming to my Top 10 List, I rejected such things as “Tapas Grills,” “BOGO,” “REIT,” and “Bounce Back Offers.” Trending down – #OLDNEWS.

So here you have my current list, from 10th biggest buzz phrase to numero uno, where just by saying it, several people will have a cow.


10. “The Cage/Players Club” – there used to be a Cage and there used to be a Players Club. There is now a big trend toward combining them. Saves money in the short term, but loses in the long term (if not paid close attention to) with longer lines and more guest aggravation.

9. “Director of Strategy” – or VP of Strategic Development or Brand Strategist or Manager of Social Media Strategy. Or a dozen other titles with “strategy” in them. Sounds impressive (I even have “Chief Strategist” in my title). Just seems like everyone should have “Strategy” (or “Marketing” or “Service”) in their gaming title.

8. “Host Incentive Program” – everyone seems to be discovering that you can get more production out of hosts by keeping score and offering them commissions or bonuses. From my vantage point, it’s a good thought to have “relationship based salespersons,” with real incentives. Trouble is in the execution, most casinos won’t step up to the plate on salary OR bonus for hosts, afraid it will cost too much and upset the salary applecart on property.

7. “Fantasy Sports” – this phrase was almost #1 a while back, but a few lawsuits from states with an axe to grind, murky legal waters, fantasy sports operators’ fantasy justifications for their existence and (of course) insatiable desire for tax revenue has this phrase trending down. For now.

6. “Social Gaming” – sure, IGT, Churchill Downs, Caesars Entertainment and a few others have found big revenues a few pennies at a time with online “free games” iPhone players. But the average casino? Still trying to figure it out, I’m afraid. Or waiting for “real” online gaming to arrive. Might be a long wait.

5. “Skill-based games” – the supposed saviors for turning millennials into gamers. Might, might not. But I’d like to see more young people involved in conceptualizing this. They’re the ones who will have to play Ms. Casino Pac Man.

4. “Resort Fees” – this buzz phrase was probably #1 a few short years ago, as casino hotels started to find out what airlines have known a long time now – there are a lot of currently free things in a hotel that you can charge for. But when will it stop? I can see it now – “Conditioner or 2nd soap bar surcharge.”

3. “Big Data” – I get it, casinos have lots of information going underutilized. I just wish more “Big Data” would lead to “Big Guest Experience Enhancer” instead of just “Big Revenue Squeeze.”

2. “Free Play” – this buzz phrase only recently slid off its #1 perch, and bean counters should keep it highly rated for quite awhile. But we wouldn’t even need ” Free Play” if the “Fee Play” was more routinely generous (or more interesting) on our slot contraptions.

1. “Millennials” – every CEO wants to talk about them. Every conference has multiple sessions on them. Modern marketers are obsessing over them. I’m not saying we shouldn’t think about where players of the future will come from. It just seems that catering to a generation drowning in debt, who are at the lowest point of their earning power and who thumb their noses at the current casino slot machine experience, is a little bit, shall we say, “unstrategic?”

But ” Millennials” is the biggest buzz phrase of 2016. Just go say the word to any gaming employee, and watch their reaction. Can you say #FLASHPOINT?

Watch this video by Joan Mantini of Casino Journal, illustrating Dennis’ Top 10 Gaming Buzz Phrases in her CJ 60 Second Spotlight.

Dennis Conrad