It has become a tradition for popular bands, which are growing old, to organize tours in various casinos throughout the USA, which are trying to attract more gamblers in their slower periods each year.
One such group is KC and the Sunshine Band, who will sing at casinos at half of their 23 stops, during their summer tour this year. Harry Wayne Casey, 63 year old lead singer, known with the hits from the past “Shake Your Booty” and “Get Down Tonight,” said that he enjoys these casino performances.
He added that he likes the facilities, which these venues offer like hotel rooms, restaurants, as well as gambling opportunities, but of course he tries to not spend his whole performance fee: “I try not to play for free.”
Old-school bands tour regularly in regional casinos around the US
• Casinos invite bands to play in their slower days
• Regular casino players get tickets for performances free of charge
• Aging bands enjoy the benefits of touring and earn well from that
The number of states, which offer Las Vegas-style gambling resorts is now 39 in comparison to just two, prior 1988, when the Congress allowed American Indian tribes to open casinos and 1989 when Iowa legalized riverboat wagering, following US gambling laws.
Therefore, there are much more stages for musicians at these regional casino venues, giving older performers the opportunity to earn pretty decent for their age. This is how fans even from smaller cities were given the chance to enjoy their favorite bands from the past without the necessity to travel.
Country singer Hank Williams Jr., who has a performance at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota this year, said for Bloomberg: “Artists don’t make money selling music anymore. Nowadays, all the money is in touring. With so many casinos opening up, it does provide many more places to play.”
Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said that: “the established acts match the over-50 demographic of the casinos’ best customers.” Therefore, his Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut will host Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe. He added: “It’s just like back in the old days, when Tom Jones went to Vegas. It’s a logical fit.”
It has become a tradition for the casinos to reserve around 20% of the concert tickets as compliment for their high rollers. An example comes from Mike Short, a payroll coordinator in Los Angeles, who said for the gambling news that he usually gets around three invitations per week from various casinos for free performances.
This is how he got to enjoy without paying for tickets artists like Joe Cocker, Foreigner, Meat Loaf and others in places like Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California.
Short remembered that one time he got six seats in relatively front rows for a Sheryl Crow concert at the Harrah’s in Laughlin, Nevada: “It’s a big draw. Once you’re down a few bucks, at least you’ve got something to walk away with.”
The performers’ viewpoint
Jim Halsey, music manager, said that naturally casinos chose slow weekends to invite bands to play, in order to attract more gamblers to their premises. He added that his client the Oak Ridge Boys will perform at more than 30 gambling halls in 2014 for around $40,000 per night.
He explained that due to the fact that casinos have various sources of income, they can afford to advertise music shows much better than simple music venues. Therefore, they have numerous advertising billboards, which promote each event, which cannot be achieved by small music venues.
Lead singer Casey explained the evolution of regional casinos happened at the same time when he decided to go back to stage performing in 1993.
He started with only two backup singers and recorded music, whereas now he performs with 15 people on stage at bigger venues like the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi and the Riverwind Casino in Norman, Oklahoma.
Casey joked that when sometimes he notices the puzzled faces of some of the younger people in the audience, he says: “Get a good look, this is what Justin Timberlake is going to look like in thirty years.”