The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, the two tribes seeking to jointly set up a third casino in Connecticut to counter competition from MGM’s nearby Springfield casino project have decided to refrain from approaching the current session of the legislative assembly for approval. At the same time, many legislators in CT want to see a study done to show the need and prove that a third casino would do all it’s supposed to do – namely counteract the jobs and revenue loss.
Recently, I had the pleasure to speak to someone in the VIP lounge at Mohegan Sun. Let’s call her “Sue.” Sue, an accountant, feels that Mohegan Sun is the casino for her and her husband, because of the ambiance and they way they are treated. Sue and her husband live 10 minutes west of Springfield – you know, where MGM Springfield is being built. Basically, it comes down to loyalty. Which is why waiting to build a third casino is opening the door for loyalty to go north to, not stay in the Nutmeg state.
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How important IS loyalty, anyway? Cristina R. Crofts of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to a good look in 2011 with her “Exploratory Study of Casino Customer Loyalty Programs.” She explains three important theories in creating loyalty between casino and guests.
- Reciprocity theory – is when customers feel the gaming company is making an investment in them, thus, returning their investment in the company. Unfortunately, this usually means those who invest in the casino at a higher financial level are given higher returns, and casinos then give high level players the most return on their investment.
- Resource theory is “when individuals invest intangible and particularistic resources in each other, they tend to be more satisfied with the relationship, tend to continue the relationship for a longer period. So casinos should invest intangible resources in their most valuable customers instead of tangible and non-particularistic investments like money or free or discounted goods and services which may not be enough to keep customers satisfied for the longterm and may actually be depriving the casino from creating more intimate relationships with customers. Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, MA has come under scrutiny in its increase in free slot play as an example of something that may not last in drawing gamblers.
- Human qualities / emotional bonds. Casino companies must establish meaningful relationships and build on emotional connections with customers. This can be created by providing care, creativity, luxury, and relaxation with a warm, welcoming, and caring staff. Furthermore, by portraying these attributes in marketing efforts such as design of tournaments and special events, invitations and offers. Casino customer loyalty programs should be more transparent so players know how to control their points & offers, and know as much as possible about how to accrue points, comps and offers.
Underlying Ms. Crofts treatise seems to be an underlying factor that is something we’ve all known – and the casino CEO’s know it to. The most powerful reason for choosing a place to gamble, stay, eat, and be entertained is is if that place makes you feel special and appreciated.
Case in point is Miguel’s guest trip report from yesterday. (see yesterday’s trip report “Three Concerns for Twin River Casino“) If you leave somewhere feeling like you’ve been screwed, there are many other places to spend your money. Even in New England, there is, or will be, a casino within a radius of 90 miles or less to gamble in. Let your dollar be your consumer power.
Both MGM Springfield & the Mashpee Wampanoags “First Light” Resort are out of the gates and eager to have a chance for New England’s gambler loyalty. To steal CT & RI’s casino patrons away, it will come down to “how special they are treated.” But if there is no third casino, or it is delayed, the newest casinos will have the advantage – especially when your name is MGM & Wynn.