With some 950 land-based and riverboat casinos in 40 states, tribal properties included, people can gamble virtually anywhere in the U.S. That’s not counting racetrack casinos, card rooms and electronic gaming, all contributing to America’s $240 billion gambling market. 

All things being relatively equal in the world of slot and table games, how are U.S. gaming destinations, brands and properties creating an identity apart at the local, regional and, for some, national level?

The established frontline strategy, of course, is non-gaming product diversification. As the following major U.S. operators reveal, however, there are other paths to distinction and uniqueness.  

Entertainment, Experience, Execution

Caesars Entertainment’s coast-to-coast portfolio includes Vegas icon Caesars Palace, and Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center and Hotel in Atlantic City, the largest meetings complex between Baltimore and Boston. Yet, “Bricks and mortar are not the feature that helps people execute memorable meetings,” noted Michael Massari, the company’s chief sales officer. 

“We also have top dining with celebrity chefs and amazing villas, and are the country’s third-largest entertainment provider behind AEG and Live Nation,” he said. “But those features are the standard for competing in today’s meetings industry. Everyone makes that same claim and our customers honestly expect those things. What differentiates Caesars Entertainment are the ways we help customers execute meetings and events.” 

For Massari, that means when planning and executing a conference, what’s most important is to understand what the company is looking to achieve, determine how to achieve it, and make it happen.

Organizational structure is one key component. 

“A few years ago, we moved all our sales people into big markets, where meeting planners live,” Massari said. “By doing that, we are able to provide our clients with face-to-face meetings that help develop better relationships and enhance our understanding of planner needs and objectives. Our sales people are decision-makers, and with the power to check availability, book hotel rooms, venues and negotiate contracts, they can make quicker decisions.”

 Another differentiator is the Diamond Card, which Caesars provides to meeting planners and their VIPs for preferred treatment at all Caesars properties. 

“Diamond Card holders are high rollers, the most important customer, and for us, planners are our most important customer,” Massari said.

 Caesars stands proudly on the pillar of great service. 

“We receive surveys from more than 75 percent of our planners,” Massari added. “Eighty percent give us a top-box rating. That’s important to us.”

 Delivering on this promise across its multibrand U.S. portfolio, Caesars is setting one high mark for the industry.

Also resetting the bar is MGM Resorts International, where a singular focus on converging entertainment with every aspect of its offering, meetings included, is creating a dynamic new business-pleasure template—and competitive separation—for the future. 

“We want people to understand that we are an entertainment company first,” said Michael Dominguez, chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International. “It starts with our manifest belief that all human beings were born to be entertained. And with non-gaming now generating 75 percent of our revenue, the shift is definitely on.”

Behind multimillion-dollar investments like the T-Mobile Arena, Park Theater and Park MGM, the luxe reimagining of the Monte Carlo, MGM is emphasizing the entertainment lifestyle across its Vegas stronghold. 

Introduced last month at the MGM Grand, Level Up, housed in a 2,000-square-foot arena, is the first free-roam virtual reality gaming experience in Vegas. Innovation comes into play at Park MGM’s Ideation Lab. Geared for groups of six to 25, seven labs, each with multiple integrated displays and furniture that encourage movement and conversation, are purposed for maximum engagement, collaboration and productivity.