Caesars Windsor has 'defence plan' for competition
Officials at Caesars Windsor have developed what they call a "defence plan" in order to thwart growing competition in the gaming industry.
Two casinos will open in May in Ohio, a state from which Caesars Windsor draws heavily.
Caesars CEO Kevin Laforet said his team is still marketing its casino to those who live in Ohio.
- Opens at permanent site as Casino Windsor in 1998.
- Employs 5,000 people at its height in 1998.
- Craps played legally in Canada for the first time in 1999.
- In 2003, a LaSalle man hits the largest jackpot in Casino Windsor's by winning $1,984,614.50.
- The Caesars name is introduced in 2006.
- In 2008, casino expansion opens and Caesars is officially the new name.
- The 5,000-seat Colosseum announced its first lineup in 2008.
- Currently employs 2,500 people, most represented by the CAW.
The plan, he said, is to maintain contact with gamblers there, rely on Caesars' customer loyalty program and "accept the fact they will try other places."
Laforet said grand openings often pose crowd and staffing issues. Those could leave a first-time guest with a bad experience.
"You’re hoping someone is going to go there and say 'wow, this was nice, but this isn't the product and service I got at Caesars Windsor,'" Laforet said. "They’re both worthy competitors but we have some great strengths."
Some Caesars Windsor customers from Ohio will now have to drive past a casino in Cleveland and Toledo and three more in Detroit before ending up in Windsor.
"It's a question of maintaining loyalty, reinforcing our offerings and making some attractive offers to them," Laforet said. "We all have the same bag of tricks so it comes down to service."
Toronto not a threat Caesars says
A casino is also proposed for Toronto, which Laforet called "a crown jewel for any operator."
Laforet said a Toronto casino poses less of a threat than those in Ohio.
"It is not serious competition. I don’t see it as a major threat at all," he said of Toronto. "Our Achilles heel is the border."
Passports are now required to enter the U.S. The Canadian dollar is now on par with its U.S. counterpart. And smoking is banned in Ontario casinos but not in American ones.
A temporary casino opened in Windsor in 1994. By 1998, it employed 5,000 people at its permanent site. Today, 2,500 people work there and Laforet said business has fallen by approximately the same rate.
"We thought we were geniuses. We were the only game in town," Laforet said.
Laforet started in the finance department. He was the fifth person hired by the casino when it opened.
He said the Windsor-Detroit market is worth $1.6 billion and revenue shares of that total continue shrink as more casinos open.
"What we’ve seen is that revenues have levelled out," Laforet said.