The gambling industry is missing the point concerning free slot play. Instead of diminishing it as a tool, it’s time to refresh it. The Casino Industry Needs the Power of Free Slot Play. Dennis Conrad’s article in Casino Journal and MGM Springfield is the inspiration for this post.
Free Slot Play
According to casino marketers, free slot play is a perk, not an entitlement.
Free slot play is found in almost every casino as a perk to get you there and show appreciation for loyalty. Supposedly, the more money you wager and the time you spend betting, the more free play you are given. It’s a “Thank You, Please come back” token of their appreciation for your loyalty.
It’s as if free slot play has decreased for most players. These days, when it’s harder to get people to visit, it’s used as punishment. “You didn’t visit us last month, so no slot play for you! It’s not our fault; there is a pandemic…Oh, but please come back.”
Do Casinos Really Want Players Back?
Casino promotions continue, but what most casino guests look forward to is the free slot play. It’s one of the most powerful tools casino marketing has.
“what does free play really cost a casino operator?”
In Dennis Conrad’s article in Casino Journal, The Hidden Cost of Casino Free Play, he provides the three answers he receives the most from casino marketing to the question “WHAT DOES FREE PLAY REALLY COST A CASINO OPERATOR?”
Answer #1 – “Nothing.”
Conrad says, “This opinion usually stems from the mistaken belief that casino players will come to a casino with their free play, spend it all, and then use their normal gambling bankroll.” He goes on to cite other costs that make this answer untrue. For example, the casino also pays for free play offer mailings, any taxes involved with the free play that went into the slot machine as coin-in, and a few other ancillary costs.
I say, “Donkey Dust!” It’s part of the cost of doing business. When everything is financially booming, casinos make money despite such overhead. Now is the best time to follow the expected free play protocol. They need bodies in every – I mean, every other – gambling seat. Rediculous decreases in the free slot play give the player another reason not to visit during the pandemic.
Answer #2 – “The amount of the free play offer.”
“100 percent of the free play amount, less the slot hold percentage of running the full free play amount through a slot machine once.” Bean counters use this rationale to show free play as a complete loss to the casino.
I say, “Poppycock!” Casinos need to figure out how to offer incentives more than ever, and it doesn’t include cutting free slot play. Without dining at its best, no shows, no entertainment, and retail stores closing, gambling is why people visit casinos these days, not for the decor.
“Answer #3 – “It depends.”
“Most smart mathematicians who recognize all the variables involved…” give this answer. It depends on many factors related to your worth to the casino called ADT, or Average Daily Theoretical. It is usually explained as a percentage of free play given to players, either individually or in total.
I say, “Meadow Muffins!”But “It depends” is not good enough. Casino marketing must realize that unreasonable decreases in free slot play do not encourage players. In fact, it creates an adversarial relationship with the casino.
The bottom line is – there is no bottom line for comps when you are struggling. The industry must go back to appreciating their guests, not giving reasons to choose the competition over their property. Free Slot Play is a serious marketing tool. To our New England Casinos, I say, “Use It Wisely.”