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Is Your Casino Truly a Place for Everyone?

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It’s always very interesting to see how people react when I tell them my company provides hourly childcare in resorts, spas and casinos. Their expression is at first quizzical, followed by an incredulous tilt of the head and then chased by a set of pointed questions. “What? Childcare in a casino? How does that work? Aren’t you just enabling gamblers?”

The answer I have is simple.

At Kids Quest and Cyber Quest we exist so that children can have their own fun while vacationing at casino-based resorts. Our concept creates a space for kids to play happily and safely while their parents explore and enjoy all our host properties have to offer. The world has changed. Casinos are no longer just about gaming. Casinos have evolved. In fact, a recent study reported that non-gaming amenities have surpassed slots and table games as a source of revenue for many casino-resort properties. People don’t go to casinos to just roll dice or push buttons on a slot machine—they can now indulge in world-class dining, a massage or facial, a round of golf, a movie, a few games of bowling, or a concert—in fact, they may even pull out their credit cards and do some great retail shopping as well. Casinos are fast becoming entertainment centers offering the very best leisure options for entire regions--a community hub hosting activities for a wide variety of clientele.

The economy necessitated a re-evaluation of the marketplace, and the result pushed casinos to diversify the amenities they provided to broaden their appeal as “destination resorts.” With more families being attracted to the “new casino,” a proactive response becomes necessary not only for business reasons—ethically it’s the right thing to do. Bottom line, you simply can’t build a hotel, add luxury swimming pools, lazy rivers, water parks, bowling alleys, movie theaters and concert venues, and then ignore the fact that your property will attract families with children.

There have always been ethical challenges with bringing little ones into a gaming-based environment—and nowhere is it more thoughtfully debated than within tribally–owned casino board rooms and council meetings. Respecting the family is the very core of the Native American culture, never a subject to be taken lightly. Gaming has proven to be a very successful venture for the various Bands, Nations and Tribes in this country. In fact, tribally owned casinos are designed to rival the finest properties in the world, and with that progressive thinking they too have included features and amenities that inevitably bring families to their resorts. The responsible thing to do is be prepared for the needs of the new guest base. Such is the case with childcare. If proactive measures are not in place for families (and options are limited) that’s when children are left unsupervised in hotel rooms and cars, or left wandering a gaming property alone. This is where moral obligation comes into play. If childcare is readily available, people will do the right thing—they just need casino ownership to give them that opportunity.

Parents love their children and will travel with them in tow, but there will always be a need to spend time apart, in order to reconnect with their spouse, partner or friends. Most adults need just a few hours away to be on their own, or to feel like a couple again, and to restore themselves so they can be better parents; well-rested, intellectually stimulated and spiritually revived parents.

To that end, I will admit that at Kids Quest we are indeed enablers. We enable adults to enjoy much-needed free time, we enable children to partake in play time, and ultimately we enable our business partners to say they have fully addressed the needs of their guests and promoted responsible gaming practices.

Ann Zenor is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in art education and fine art. After graduation Ann taught preschool for The Learning Tree, and went on to design toys for Manhattan Toy, and other companies specializing in child development. In 2005, after a 20-year career working as a freelance illustrator and designer, Ann went to work for New Horizon Companies in their Kids Quest and Cyber Quest divisions. She currently serves in a variety of capacities for the company, such as: new business development, business communication, facility design, activities and curriculum research, and employee training. Ann has volunteered her time to Big Brothers and Sisters of Greater Minneapolis, and participates on the advisory board for Art Buddies—a non-profit agency that provides one–on-one art activities to inner city, at-risk children. In her free time Ann enjoys all sports, live music and spending time with family, friends and her yellow Labrador, Ames.