Finding fitness in gaming

The pandemic-fueled boom in remote businesses may now be receding in the face of audiences returning to social settings but many of these are now established as significant drivers within their sectors, writes Michael Pollock


What happens when you mix the experience of Peloton with the prognostications of David Cordish? You gain some bankable insights into the human psyche.

Peloton is an industry leader in fitness equipment that experienced astonishing, but hardly surprising growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cordish is Chairman of the Cordish Companies, an operator of gaming and entertainment facilities that has also experienced astonishing, but hardly surprising growth in recent years.

Peloton’s share price recently dropped by more than 35% as users of its equipment are returning to gyms. In the fitness world, Peloton served as an antidote to the gym. In the gaming world, Cordish is the gym.

Peloton was perfectly positioned to participate handsomely from the pandemic-fueled shift away from social settings. Joanna Zeng O’Brien, a senior Moody’s Investors Service analyst who covers the fitness industry, told the Washington Post: “People in general are more social creatures… They go to the gym for the energy, for the group classes. You can buy yourself a Peloton bike or treadmill, and work out in your basement or bedroom, but it’s a different experience.”


Cordish knows a thing or two about “different experiences.” In a recent keynote address to the East Coast Gaming Congress, Cordish provided thoughtful, pointed views as to the essential differences between igaming and casino gaming.

Cordish stated that “igaming is an isolationist event. You are sitting in your bedroom at home, and you whip out your iPhone and place a bet. It doesn’t have the social experience. … Casinos have invested heavily and wisely in making it a social event.  And it’s worked, and it’s an advantage you have. As soon as you go away from a social event to an isolationist event, you throw away that advantage.”

Cordish’s views may seem contrarian and controversial, but that is not the case. Rather, he is simply viewing gaming through a wide lens. Gamblers and gym rats may sport different waist measurements, but they share a common trait: a yearning for social settings.

When Spectrum Gaming Group first projected the shifting relationship between brick-and-mortar casinos and igaming back in 2002, we projected that the casino industry’s attitude toward its online offspring would evolve from rejection to acceptance to embrace, in part because technology cannot replace a trait that is hard-wired into humans: an embrace of social settings.

In detailing the Spectrum Internet Gaming Heuristic Theorem (SIGHT), we noted in 2017 that “online gaming in the United States should develop differently, not simply as a new revenue stream, but as a marketing tool that would reach new demographics in a new way that would increase both online and land-based revenue.”

Even as the pandemic and pandemic-induced behaviors recede into memory, Peloton will not be fading away, and it will have a significant place in the fitness world. Similarly, igaming will remain a significant piece of the gaming puzzle. More important, both igaming and mobile sports betting continue to capture a new demographic, one that had long eluded the land-based casino industry.

The future belongs to those who can leverage these new forms of gaming by building on those demographics. In his seminal speech, Cordish made clear that casino operators succeed when they package their offerings as entertainment. The presence of igaming does not alter that thesis. Rather, it makes clear who will be the next generation of winners in the gaming world: Those who best understand what people truly want. Michael Pollock is Managing Director of Spectrum Gaming Group, a consultancy that maintains a focus on identifying future trends in gaming, and publishes an annual list of the most prominent trends.

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