A cynic would consider casinos adding a brew operation was just a marketing effort to profit on the popularity of craft beer. Casinos, on the other hand, have recognised the complimentary relationship of beer and gambling for some time now.
Beer drinkers tend to enjoy a bet. Ed Gilbert is the general manager of Feather Falls Casino and Lodge in California. His brewery is just over 20 miles from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company; one of the country’s largest craft breweries. He believes the locals are quite knowledgeable about craft beer.
Ellis Island Casino also brews its own beer. They have realised from a cost standpoint, having a brewery is a significant asset.
To keep gamblers at the table, casinos normally offer free beverages. To brew beer in-house means such freebies are not so costly for casinos.
The casino doesn’t have to pay a premium to an outside brewer and third-party distributor. This is because 97 percent of Ellis Island’s beer is sold on-premise. The other 3% is served at a satellite restaurant. This means more earnings flows back into the casino’s own business. Business is increasing for the brewery as well.
They sell a million glasses of beer a year. All of which is drank in the casino, putting the brewery in America’s top 20 brewpubs.
The decision to sell their own beer was more of a necessity for Dostal Alley Casino & Brew Pub in Central City, Colorado. They were trying to compete with the rest of the casinos in town. They found that all of them delivered essentially the same experience though. It’s just slot machines so they needed to provide something that no one else could and that was craft beer.
It wasn’t an overnight success however. Winning over the beer drinkers took a long time but they stuck with it. Business changed for them after they started to appreciate their beer. For those who prefer to stay at home, you can pick a cold one in your fridge and load casinosjungle and start playing online casino!
Because each state has its own gambling laws, you won’t find all casinos can brew their own beer just anywhere
The ten casino-breweries in existence are spread across five states. Six of them are congregated in Nevada to take advantage of the state’s pro-gambling policies. Nevada has become so accustomed to gambling that it is now more difficult to create a tasting room without it.
Because of its Native American ownership, Feather Falls Casino ran into a legal challenge while applying for a brewery licence in California. There had never been an example of a Federally recognised tribe filing for a brewery licence so Feather Falls Casino was the country’s first of its type.
The types of beer served at these casino-breweries can range from experimental small batch beer to more classic, lighter beer styles. As customers have gotten more knowledgeable, the beers change to reflect that.
Feather Falls’ beers have received 40 awards including a bronze at the 2012 World Beer Cup for its Blackjack Stout. A silver medal from the 2014 Great American Beer Festival for its Shaft House Stout is among Dostal Alley’s achievements.
The ability of two seemingly disparate industries like gambling and craft beer to coexist together is a credit to the passion of those involved.
The relationship between competing casinos is very competitive. It’s a benefit for them if they can shut you down and take your clients. In the world of artisan beer, the reverse is true as everyone wants to make fantastic beer. In the gaming industry, that would never happen.
For that reason craft beer might be able to teach the game business a thing or two about teamwork.