How Caesars Entertainment Is Betting on Sustainability

One of the largest gaming companies in the world expanded its sustainability efforts using a scorecard to guide and goad managers.

In early January 2013, Gary Loveman, chairman and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp., the world’s most geographically diversified gaming company, listened closely as Hilary Fagan, an employee from one of the company’s Las Vegas casinos, presented her latest analysis on how customers felt about Caesars’ green programs. She had sorted through survey data from guests who had recently stayed at the company’s 450-room hotel at Harrah’s New Orleans, and she was eager to share the findings.

The numbers revealed that the more information guests had about the different things the hotel and the company were doing to reduce energy consumption, recycle waste and rebuild the local community, the better they felt about Caesars as a company — and the more inclined they were to enjoy their experience in the casino and to book repeat visits. The analysis resonated with Loveman’s view about what makes service businesses successful — that customers need to understand and value what you are doing. The proof that implementing and advertising sustainable practices that were in line with the company’s corporate responsibility goals could positively influence customer behavior was music to his ears.

In the past few years Caesars, which had 2012 net revenues of $8.6 billion and owned, managed or operated 52 casinos in locations around the globe, had come a long way toward earning a reputation as an environmental leader in the hospitality industry. It had received more than 50 awards and certifications for sustainability leadership from, among others, the Sierra Club, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Green Building Council, which also awarded its LEED Silver certification to Caesars’ Las Vegas convention center and hotel expansion. In just five years, the company had reduced its carbon footprint by nearly 10% and reduced its energy use per square foot by 20%.

Loveman had stepped up the company’s sustainability efforts beginning in 2007, as the economy was beginning to weaken. At that time, the gaming industry was in free fall. Caesars’ revenues were collapsing, forcing the company to reduce staffing levels by more than 20%. There was tremendous uncertainty about when things would get better.