What a Vegas casino taught me about Broadway investing.

I was on the floor of The Venetian Hotel & Casino last week, staring at the sea of tourists gambling away at the slots and the tables and realized something . . . the house always wins.

And right now, all of you reading this blog, just collectively said, “Duh, Ken.  Duh.”

Because you all know this.  Everyone knows this.  Gambling favors the house.  That’s how opulent casinos like The Venetian are built.

The house always wins.

But . . . people play anyway.

The sea of people in Armani suits, cowboy hats and pencil skirts I saw last week at just one of the 122 casinos in town knew they were most likely going to lose.  They knew the odds were not in their favor.  They knew “the house always wins.”  Including me!  But it didn’t matter.  They didn’t care.  A few folks I spoke to don’t even think about winning money.  They gamble what they know they can lose and then walk away, chalking it up to entertainment.

They play the tough odds for two reasons:

  • The fun and “excitement” of gambling
  • The chance that they might actually make money

And play they do.  Over and over, again and again.

So, all of you who raise money for the theater (and for anything, for that matter), the lesson here is that if we can provide those two things to our Broadway investors, then we should be able to experience similar results.  Las Vegas proves that people have no problem engaging in an activity that may be “profitably challenged,” as long as the experience is rewarding.

It’s a Producer’s job, especially if you’re in this biz for the long term, to ask yourself, “What can you do to make sure your investors keep coming back to your casino?”



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  • Cathie A. says:

    Agreed! I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime, investing in a Broadway show. I too went in with my eyes open, realizing that I/we might not recoup, but it didn’t matter. It was exciting, I learned a lot, made some great connections and yes in the back of my mind I thought “who knows!” I took a gamble, and altho we did not recoup, I think I got more than my moneys worth! And I’d roll the dice again!

  • Margie says:

    I think the time has come for a musical called CASINO or THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS. (Nothing to do with the movie. Throw in a schmaltzy weepy love story and the women will come. Do a few “I got the Horse Right Here” smash songs and some smart gambling tips, and you’ve got the men. Timing for this is dead right. Plus, you say: The fun and “excitement” of gambling — AND The chance that they might actually make money.
    So, you’d have everyone throw in a buck as they enter the theatre, they’d get a ticket for that (so not everyone is forced to play), and each night there’s an onstage drawing and SOMEONE wins the entire amount — THAT ALONE would sell tickets. A chance to win a jackpot? (just a thought).

  • virginia vanderbilt says:

    I found at several fund raisers that I’ve been involved with, a RAFFLE or 50-50 always brings in the crowds. it’s a win win for everyone.

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