Two recent moves by Caesars Entertainment say a great deal about where the gambling industry is headed. In January, the company bought the non-gaming assets of the Atlantic Club, an Atlantic City casino that began life as Steve Wynn’s Golden Nugget in 1980. Upon completing the sale, Caesars closed the property with no intention of reopening it—removing a competitor from the beleaguered Jersey Shore gaming market.
Then Caesars Interactive Entertainment—a subsidiary that deals with online and social gaming—bought Pacific Interactive, an Israel-based company that offers the popular Facebook, iPhone and Android slot game House of Fun. Although the 700,000 or so daily visitors play for free, small purchases of additional chips add up: The company brought in about $30 million in revenue last year. Caesars is folding Pacific into its substantial social gaming portfolio, which includes games like World Series of Poker-branded poker, Slotomania and Bingo Blitz.
It’s no secret that both online and social gaming are growing; millions of people play “for free” each day, and at least 10 states—including California and Texas—are mulling the legalization of straight-up online gambling. The two transactions show the evolution of the way Americans play—and the way Las Vegas-based gaming companies make money.