The Essentials of Staying Competitive, for Leaders in Tribal Gaming

The Essentials of Staying Competitive, for Leaders in Tribal Gaming

April 3, 2023

Harnessing the Power of Current Business Strategies

The post-COVID-19 world continues to present significant challenges for casino operations and Tribal leaders in 2023. With so many new regulations and standards adopted to help deal with the effects of the pandemic affecting everything from operations to accounting, professionals in Tribal leadership positions across the board are struggling to apply them effectively. But harnessing the power of current business strategies is essential to keeping an edge in the gaming industry today. Below, we outline the top four challenges facing leaders in Tribal gaming and assess opportunities to keep instep with the competition.

1. Navigating the Post-Pandemic Workforce Landscape: Key HR Strategies for Tribal Casino Leaders

The battle to attract and retain a skilled workforce has intensified, post-pandemic. It’s more difficult than ever to hire and retain staff. One of the realities we’ve had to face is the upward pressure on wages. Many Tribes and their enterprises have raised minimum pay rates, but higher pay alone isn’t attracting or keeping people in their jobs. All entities are having to get creative with the benefits they offer, including more flexible work arrangements. Remote work may not be possible with many positions within casino resort properties, but where it is, embrace it.

For positions that don’t allow for remote work options, try to be as flexible as possible with work scheduling. Implementing automation tools or re-engineering processes wherever possible can help team members be more efficient and can reduce the number of staff needed in some areas. Most people prefer to work smarter than harder. For some functions, especially where specialized skills or knowledge are required, it may be easier to outsource. Security, Valet, Accounting and Facilities are some operational areas that lend themselves to using outside resources.

2. The Power of Upgrades: Leveraging New Features and Improving Performance in Technology Management

Considering the workforce issues we face, effectively managing your technology portfolio is key. Take advantage of integration capabilities among your operational and even financial systems. Good integration can eliminate unnecessary manual work and reduce the opportunity for errors. Keeping technology systems upgraded to recently updated versions can introduce useful new features and improve the overall performance of systems. Implementing modern technology is critical to both improving operational efficiency and staying competitive with amenities and gaming offerings. Cashless gaming, iGaming, and sports betting are just a few of the newer technologies that are changing the way the industry operates. You may not be on the leading edge of these movements, but you don’t want to lag too far behind and lose business to competitors.

3. Protecting the House: Strengthening IT Security for Tribal Casinos

Tribal casinos have become a valuable target of hackers and ransomware. The importance of keeping casino systems and data safe cannot be overstated. Defending the house must be a top priority. Physical and logical security must be continuously monitored and adjusted. Safeguards must also be tested to ensure they are working as expected. Defensive measures alone are not enough to keep your casino operation safe and running as no defenses are impregnable. It is imperative that the casino have a good recovery plan should a breach occur. Like the defenses, the recovery plan needs regular testing. After a breach is not the time to discover your back-ups aren’t working properly. A great first step would be running a full risk assessment of your operations with a trusted cybersecurity advisor.

4. Surviving the Rising Cost Environment: Strategies for Effective Operational Performance Management

Our current economic environment with rising costs of personnel, goods and supplies makes it more important than ever to carefully manage the performance of your operation. Optimizing revenues on the gaming floor is likely to have the largest overall impact. Regularly analyzing game performance and working with game vendors to change out underperforming games is a good first step. This is an area where outside resources can assist you if you don’t have or can’t find someone to perform this function internally. Staying on top of pricing in F&B and retail areas is another way to help optimize revenues. As the cost of everything keeps rising, it’s necessary to know where costs stand and when prices need adjusting.

Controlling costs is also critical in today’s economy. Carefully examine the cost of frequently used items and services. Are these goods and services supplied under a contract? Can some goods and service be put out for bid to ensure you are getting the best price for the quality and quantity of goods or services you are using? Do you budget and hold departments accountable for adhering to the budget? Are they responsible for justifying memberships and subscriptions? Don’t forget about capital expenditures, either. While they may not hit your P&L today, they do use resources. Are you evaluating the return on these expenditures and carefully considering the lease or buy options?

Managing cash, investments, and debts has also become more critical in recent days. We’ve become spoiled with a low interest rate environment that has existed for many years. In 2022 and 2023 to date, rates have increased significantly, which can be devastating for properties with variable rate debts. As the cost of capital rises, some projects may no longer be viable.

Keep Moving Forward with Trusted Experts at Your Side

You’re operating in a challenging world, but you don’t have to face it alone. From team member recruiting and retention strategies to optimizing technology management, running a cybersecurity assessment or analyzing operational performance, the expert consultants and CPAs at REDW are trusted business partners in Indian Country and are ready to provide the business and financial solutions you need to stay competitive.

Contact our Gaming practice leaders, Kevin Huddleston, Anthony (Tony) Gerlach, or Adam Smith to start a conversation or to ask a question.

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