Casino Tipping – Enhance Your Gambling Experience

Service Tips are nothing new.  I have always believed that great service deserves good tips. Tipping at the end of a meal is the report card of how your server took care of you. Attentiveness, and friendliness are key factors in my book.

I had the same approach at the casino.  Playing video poker at the bar, I would tip at the end of my session, depending on the attention and friendliness I received.

However, attending events like ZorkFest and networking with other gamblers has proved to me that on the casino floor, it’s better to do just the opposite..

THOSE DRINK TIPS

Tipping bigger at the beginning of service and not waiting to the end to issue your “report card” tends to grease the wheels of service. Drink service is the perfect example.  Tipping a little extra at the beginning of service tells the server / bartender that you’re interested in their service, not entitled to it.  Since doing this, I’ve noticed significant results.  Not only is the friendliness factor increased, but now they are aware you have their interest.

Service with a smile.

It’s not a sure thing – remember you’re at the casino where nothing is a sure thing.  But that initial tip can mean the difference between service and non or slow service.  Remember mileage may vary depending upon how busy the casino may be, or the server.

DEALER TIPS

I was always the kind of guy that waited to tip the dealer at the end, much like a restaurant.  Again, there is a better approach.

Table game dealers should be friendly, helpful and sometimes even entertaining. That being said, they can often be matter of fact, if not aloof. There could be lots of reasons.  I always thought “hey, it’s called the ‘service industry’ for a reason, buddy.” But, just imagine how many Bozos and idiots these people put up with on a daily basis.

Tip ahead?…….well, maybe not all dealers.

Here’s are my suggestions for the recreational table game player based on personal experience and networking with other players:

  • Greet the dealer, and  ask how his/her day has been as you lay your money on the table.
  • When the pit boss comes over, address them the same way as you give him/her your players card.
  • Tip the dealer during play – better yet play for the dealer.  Put a smaller bet down with yours. Now the you and the dealer are a team. Watch for a positive reaction. If they appreciate it, occasionally repeat, or more depending on your bankroll’s progress.
  • Dealers at tables such as Pai Gow Poker may really appreciate it. With such a slow game that doesn’t bring a lot of tips their way, dealers may particularly take notice.
  • Back to that pit boss – remember they were dealers once.  When they see you tip, or play for the dealers, pit bosses may bump up your bet-per-play rating.

PROOF AT THE TABLE

Recently I played Pai Gow Poker for a few hours at Foxwoods. Even recreational gamblers can play this game at a higher level denomination due to the number of pushes that occur. I was playing $25 a hand, with a few side bets and often a single $1 bet for the dealer. So, a spread of $25 to $31. As I played, I was friendly. At one point,  I even made a mistake in organizing my high & low hands once, which the pit boss and dealer collaborated to allow reorganizing my hand, which I thanked them with a slightly higher dealer tip.  Remember, there are a lot of pushes in this game, so a dealer’s bet can be repeated more than BJ or roulette.

When I inquired how I was rated after my session, the pit boss said $50 a hand!  Higher than I expected.  Coincidence? I say ney, ney.

So, take the plunge – tip ahead, be friendly and good things may happen.

Binbin

Coach Kitty and My Gambling Confession

I’m writing a gambling confession today, but first a disclaimer.

While a make up a small part of the TravelZork team, this is not intended to be an advertisement.  I just need to share the help I’ve received over the last year from the many experts at this website.  Check it out because you deserve it – ‘nuff said.

I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING – NOT!

Over the last twenty-five years, I have gone from a beginner who didn’t know basic JOB Video Poker Strategy (and played one quarter at a time) to someone who runs a gambling blog. The journey has been fun and the knowledge I’ve gained has been amazing. But there is one thing that I couldn’t admit – until recently.

I refused to follow the best way to receive casino comps. Even my local casinos provided good entertainment and hotel comps, but very little free slot play. I never understood, or refused to accept the real truth behind how casino comps work. ADT (Average Daily Theoretical) I knew, but I loved playing VP.  So, I played a small amount 2-6 times a month.

I always thought the casinos were shooting themselves in the foot with local clientele. “It should all add up to one gambling day, should it not?.” But I was wrong, sadly.

All along, I knew the truth.  Only recently, I realize I needed to change my sessions to larger but fewer.

COACH KITTY at TRAVELZORK

I get it now.  It’s time to change.  I want you to, no, I implore you to go to TravelZork. The suggestions provided by Michael Tragar and Eric Rosenthal will change your gambling world positively for good. But, there is one person and one particular article by her that is one of the best explanations about the world of comps I have ever read.

It’s Casino Comps – The Big Play Casino Gambling Day, Part 1 by Coach Kitty.

Go ahead, click and read it, I’ll wait.  (elevator music plays) ………… ok, now let’s continue.

Catherine has become a self-made expert in working the system.  Her optimal approach to casino gambling and travel deals on a budget gives her the credibility behind her posts. Meeting her in person last year made me realize she knows what she writes about.  Kitty is also an expert Video Poker player, with basic strategies on many games in her back pocket.

Now, if you haven’t read that article yet, go read it!

CONCLUSION

If you care about improving you gambling success, taking advantage of casino comps, and learning how to maximize credit cards use and rewards clubs of all kinds, you must check out TravelZork.

Thank you Catherine.  Thank you Michael and Eric, and the rest of the team. I can’t wait for part 2.  Don’t leave us hanging, Coach Kitty!

Binbin

Foxwoods Cheesecake Giveaway – Poor Planning or Scam?

As many casinos in the gaming industry, Foxwoods Resort Casino offers many giveaways to their patrons at different tier levels.  I must say that they offer items that are worth the drive.  Some of their jewelry offers have been wonderful.  So, yesterday, I drove 40 minutes out of my way home after my job to pick up a terrific giveaway – a Junior’s Cheesecake.  If you have ever tasted a Junior’s cheesecake, or many of the other desserts on Junior’s menu, you know how much of a high quality, scrumptious item if is.  For what it’s worth, Junior’s breakfast is considered one of the best breakfasts at a New England Casino by NETG as well.

Juniors Cheesecake, Fox Tower, Foxwoods.

The Junior’s Cheesecake Giveaway was obviously a great offer, because by the time I walked to where the giveaway was (4:30PM, and the giveaway was from 12 Noon – 6:00PM), they were all out!  No cheesecakes left with 1 1/2 hours to go.  Instead, they were offering everyone who showed up a lofty consolation offer of, ……… wait for it……….. $10 in free slot play!   Wow, what a deal.

This was so wrong on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin.  Let’s start here.  Your Honor, I present my examination into this giveaway:

ARTICLE #1 – DON’T THEY HAVE SOMEONE IN CHARGE OF PLANNING?

It is typical of Foxwoods to run out of giveaway items – as well as many other casinos in and out of New England.  Many times, Foxwoods will note on your offers page that what was once available was now sold out – a responsible way of handling offers. They are aware if the number of offered items run out because you must sign up for the offer online or call. Someone must keep track, right.  Well, not for Junior’s cheesecake.  How can you run out 75% into the giveaway if some is keeping track ahead of time?  Obviously, incompetent planning was at the helm – or was it?

ARTICLE #2 – WAS THIS INTENTIONAL?

$10 Free Slot Play (or FSP) is a far cry towards treating Foxwoods guests with respect and does not give them the warm, fuzzy feeling of “we appreciate your play.”  In the FAQ’s about the changes in the the Rewards Club (see Foxwoods Rewards – Before and After) Foxwoods states that changes are “…..to provide a better loyalty experience for our loyal and new Foxwoods Rewards Members.”  Me thinks they need to look at the way their marketing managers plan these things – if they truly are interested in “….a better loyalty experience for our loyal and new Foxwoods Rewards Members.”

ARTICLE #3 – $10 FREE SLOT PLAY?   REALLY?

Now, about FSP. Playing full pay Video Poker (JOB) gives you 8 hands at over 99% at $.25 denomination.  But Foxwoods doesn’t have full pay VP in quarters, so an expected value of FSP  would be around $8.  The chance of making more than $10 is possible, but more often than not improbable.  Even less when using it on slots. $10 FSP is not even close to an individual players consolation.

ARTICLE #4 – NON-GAMING DAY & ADT

ADT, or Average Daily Theoretical, is what you are worth to the casino in terms of money spent and time spent on a daily visit.  The higher your ADT, the better your offers, or comps, since your worth to casino is also higher.  It doesn’t take much – such as short play, or a non-gambling day – to cause your ADT to tumble down to nowhere.  This isn’t just at Foxwoods, it’s every casino.

I asked two representatives at the giveaway about using the $10 FSP and leaving.  Representative  #1 told me that, yes, it would be considered a “non-gambling day” if I played the $10 and left.  So let me get this straight – I lose out on the cheesecake, but I get a whole $10 in FSP that probably won’t add up to $10 after play, and it will also damage my ADT?  Great plan to get me there, lose the offer I signed up for, and use the consolation prize to lower my Daily Theoretical.  Genius!

Representative  #2 had a different story. If I played the FSP and left, it wouldn’t count against me. because it was loaded as a different type of FSP.  How did I know which rep was accurate? Was I going to risk killing my ADT on this information?   NOPE!  So, no cheesecake to give me, and Foxwoods gets to keep its $10 FSP offer.  Foxwoods marketing score – Foxwoods 1, Patrons nothing.

Average Daily Theoretical is your value to the casino. The math to determine your ADT is based on the above.

ARTICLE #5 – THE FINE PRINT

I was told that there is always a chance that running out of the item offered might happen.  I was told  in an understanding tone that “It’s in the fine print of every offer.”  There you go.  Buyer beware.  It doesn’t matter that they should be responsible in their giveaways because it’s up to us to read the fine print.  So basically, it’s our fault. Would you want to gamble your money in a place where they aren’t interested in making it right, just because they point it out TO YOU that “it’s in the fine print.”

ARTICLE #6 – THE COST OF NOT PICKING UP YOUR OFFER

It is usual business practice for casinos all over to charge you out of your personal Rewards Credits if you don’t show up.  I understand why, and while I’ve been bitten by this rule, I accept it.  If you say you want the offer, then show up!

$10 FSP does not equal the $25 in credits I would have lost for not accepting it.  If I just turned around and went home, I would have lost $25 in credits.  Instead I had to accept $10 FSP that I couldn’t play.  (See Article #4)  But let’s take this a huge insane step forward.

To earn one credit playing slots, it takes $200 (according to VPfree2) through the slot machine.  Charging anyone $25 in credits then makes the cheesecake worth a whopping $5000 in play.  BTW, playing video poker?  Double it!

So, to summarize so far – lose 25 credits that cost $5000 in play on slots if you don’t claim it, get $10 FSP that anyone with a decent ADT can’t use – and NO CHEESEECAKE!

FINAL CONCLUSION

Was it a well-thought out plan, knowing the draw of Junior’s Cheesecake?  I am giving the benefit of the doubt and saying decisively “no.”  BUT, this was not handled well at all, start to finish. Someone in marketing was not thinking of all the possible considerations for their players.  It not an example of caring for their clientele. The complete misjudgment of this giveaway logistics shows a failure to understand the patrons.  And if anyone at Foxwoods thinks we should all be grateful for any morsel thrown our way for spending our hard-earned money there, it won’t take much to take that money elsewhere – like 10 miles in 2017, or up to Springfield in 2018, or to Boston in 2019.

Bottom line – they’ve got to do better!

Binbin

Cardless Casino Players Clubs

So many casinos – so many Players cards. I use to have a fanny pack in the 90’s that was full of them, from Vegas to Atlantic City.

At first, they were introduced for slot players to off-set the high house edge.  People were skeptical.  Why earn comps when you can just ask for comps?

According to Bill Burton of ThoughtCo.com,  “The “Slot Clubs” were born in Atlantic City in the early 1980’s when the casinos there were trying to find a way to keep players from hopping from one casino to the next. By offering a reward for their loyalty they were able to keep the player coming back.”  It worked. By 2000, most casinos had players club cards for all gamblers including table games, registering data that transformed gamblers play into complimentary eats, show tickets, and rooms. Life was good with a players card.

One of my first players club cards – Lady Luck in Las Vegas. Notice the divits used for the data – magnetic strips in back were not universal yet. Notice no name, no number!

Now, there is something new on the horizon, already in use out in Las Vegas – the Cardless Players Card!

What is Cardless Connect?

Red Rock Resort Casino

Red Rock Resort Casino Hotel, the Gem of Stations Casinos

The IGT Cardless Connect technology with Station Casinos enables a player to use their MyBoardingPass loyalty card without actually using a physical card. To use Cardless Connect, players simply download the STN app, sign into the account and tap the phone on the card reader at a slot machine. The phone will simply connect the player just as a physical loyalty card would so the player can experience all of the benefits of the loyalty program.

You must have a working 4G signal OR be connected to the casino Stations Wi-Fi, in this case Stations casino, in order to sign into the STN mobile application. You also need to have Bluetooth enabled; that’s how we connect you, so keep your phone close by the bezel or you might get carded out.  Forgot your card?  No problem!

You can also log in through kiosks with your mobile device by selecting the QR code in the Boarding Pass section of the Station Casinos app.

IGT Innovations

IGT was the pioneer in TITO – Ticket In, Ticket Out – technology that brought coinless machine play to casinos all over the country.  IGT is also the owner of the vast number of video poker machines in today’s casinos and has been a leader in Lotto technology. Now, they’re taking Rewards clubs to the next level.

A player sits down and points their phone at the gaming machine. Suddenly, the player display shows the player’s name and point balance. When the player leaves, the app automatically cards them out. No card? No problem! As long as you have your phone or mobile device with you (and who doesn’t!?), you’ll be able to connect.

 

Cardless Connect is in Barley’s Casino & Brewing Co. in Henderson, NV, just outside of Las Vegas and is the only Vegas casino to already have it installed. Stations will be installing it in two more of its casinos in the coming months.  How successful this will be with players is yet to be seen.

I remember when I thought the reality of coins in slots and video poker was real gambling – not this fake sound of coins hitting trough and a paper ticket.

Years later, with clean hands and no more hopper fills to wait for, I am convinced I was wrong – TITO was a great innovation.  Maybe this will become the next one.

Binbin

 

 

 

 

 

 

The players club display on the machine will show the player’s name and point balance as if the card were in use. When the player (and the phone) leaves the game, the app automatically cards them out. This is as simple as new mobile can be.

Based on the initial success of the Cardless Connect technology at Barley’s, Station Casinos plans to implement it at two more locations in Las Vegas later this year with the remaining properties to follow shortly after. Unfortunately, Station Casinos isn’t ready to divulge which casinos will are up next for Cardless Connect. Here’s what they did have to say about the future of using their players club card.

“We are committed to continuously delivering new benefits to our My Rewards Boarding Pass that bring value and convenience to our new and existing members,” said Staci Alonso, Station Casinos EVP and Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. “IGT’s Cardless Connect technology adds meaningful value to the STN mobile app by allowing guests to use their phone to card in at their favorite slot game if they prefer a digital experience.”

“Station Casinos has been a phenomenal partner in our rollout of Cardless Connect technology,”said Nick Khin, IGT Chief Commercial Officer, North America Gaming & Interactive. “We evaluated multiple technologies and developed a flexible solution that supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or QR code connectivity. From the initial phases of implementation to the excitement of the ‘go live’, the Station Casinos team has embraced Cardless Connect’s innovative features and BLE connectivity, which deliver a superior user experience.”

Cardless Connect is a great idea and should make visiting Las Vegas easier as more casino operators add the technology to their machines. The days of packing countless players club cards for a trip to Las Vegas may be over soon.

Don’t dump your players club cards just yet. This will only roll out to a few Station Casinos properties this year with more next year. While MGM Resorts has been testing Cardless Connect at MGM Grand in Detroit, they haven’t been any announced expansion of the technology into Las Vegas.

Kudos to Station Casinos for stepping out with this great technological advancement. Let’s hope others will follow soon.

Casino Comps & Your “Average Daily Theoretical”

Ever wonder how the casino you visit decides on what comps to give you? When I first started, I thought that if I went to the local casino (or closest) and played a little more often, they (the casino) would see me as a loyal customer and raise my comps. How could they depend on that visitor that appears once a year instead of me – they had me for life if they played their cards right.

But, alas, my comps continued to be menial – “minion’s comps” I call them. Then I found out about Average Daily Theoretical – the average amount that a gambler losses per day for a certain gambling activity, usually expressed in absolute terms (such as dollars). It’s your value to the casino, based on your average daily play – NOT the numbers of appearances at the casino.

Your players card is how the casino tracks your play.

Back to Average Daily Theoretical, the amount (expressed in percent or real units) a casino assumes certain play is worth to them. A positive Theoretical is an assumed loss to the the player. A casino typically comps players based on their actual Theoretical. For example, a casino may assign a certain game a Theoretical of 5%. Assuming a player’s coin-in is $10,000, a casino would then limit total comps to some fraction (less then one) of the theo, $500. If the player had the same coin-in on a game with 1% Theoretical, the comps would have been limited to some fraction of $100.

To make it simple, basically it’s based on your play in one day. A long play in a casino’s day raises your “comp-ability” and playing a little lowers it. So, you can start to receive amazing offers if your play is fairly concentrated into small capsules of time (one or two trips a month) with longer play – basically more money through in a casino day. Now, if you spread out the same amount of money over more visits, less time each visit, the offers decrease.

One very important part to know is the “casino day” which may not be what you consider a day, or may differ from casino to casino. Some casino day’s start at 12:01AM, while others start at 6:00AM. Make sure you know which day your play falls on at, for example, 1:00AM.

Great Podcast fpr Craps, home poker games, and all sorts of gambling advice.

 

 

The guys from “You Can Bet on That” give a good example. Let’s say you are staying at a casino for two nights with $400 as your bankroll. If you play the $400 through on the first day, your ADT is better than if you split your bankroll over two days. And what if you get up to check out and put in one more $20 before you leave? Well, your ADT is now figured over three casino days, thus lowering your ADT.

So, if you visit often and put through $50 each time, don’t expect great offers. Make fewer visits putting though the same amount in a month and you will find your your offers increase.

But please remember – play for fun, play for recreation with the bankroll you can spend. DO NOT PLAY MORE THAN YOU CAN SPEND JUST TO GET BETTER COMPS. Always spend up to your allowable bankroll.

Big Data, Casinos, & Jean Scott

BIG DATA

More in the news than ever.  It’s all about analytics these days.  In order to stay competitive in the the gaming & entertainment industry, casinos and their resorts have to watch the fluctuations and trends in their clientele and that of their competitors.  Expansion of gaming throughout the country, and especially in New England, will mean more BIG DATA looked at as Wynn Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, Tiverton Hotel Casino, and the third CT Casino look to open.

BIG DATA

It all has to do with keeping their players, their diners, and event-goers coming back. So, gaming centers are turning to data analytics to make the gaming experience better for customers while also keeping the casinos solvent.

Players Cards are one of the ways casinos keep track of your points and your play.

JEAN SCOTT

What does this have to do with Jean? Well, I subscribe to Jean Scott’s weekly newsletter Frugal Vegas for two reasons:

  1. I love hearing about Vegas
  2. The info  Jean covers is often applicable for any casino around the country.

You remember Jean, don’t you?  The Frugal Gambler – the Queen of Comps?  For related information on Jean Scott’s expertise and career in the gambling industry, click on the links below:

Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast – E:53 Frugal Gambling with The Queen of Comps Jean Scott

Las Vegas Advisor  –  Jean Scott’s Frugal Vegas

NETG Posts – The Frugal Gambler, Jean Scott – Challenging New Post, Essential New Book

10 Money-Saving Tips For the Casino – Jean Scott, The Queen of Coupons

Her recent newsletter pointed me in the direction of BIG DATA.  Some of our NETimeGambling followers on Twitter also shared some stories about the lack of comp points at New England’s casinos. Casino comps have gone new age, dependent upon algorithms that determine your comps through your players card.  The accumulation of points differs from casino to casino, slot machine to video poker machine, craps to baccarat.  And I haven’t found one casino that will tell you exactly how your points accumulate on every game, as in “how much play = how many points?”

Jean Scott

JEAN SCOTT’S COMP POINT CONSIDERATIONS

Jean Scott’s recent post listed the following import elements in a casino takes into consideration in determining your points.  The Frugal Gambler says,

“Although casino information systems vary widely in their capabilities, from the simple to the complex, the technology exists to take into consideration all of the following:

* specific machine played;

* how much the casino projects to win from the average player on that game

* your skill level in playing that game;

* what denomination you’re playing;

* how long you play the game,

* the frequency of your play;

* whether you have won or lost during one period of time;

* your long-term history of play at that casino

 

More time is needed by yours truly to investigate BIG DATA in the Casino Industry.  In the mean time I suggest three calls to action:

  1. Subscribe to Jean’s Newsletter (see links above),
  2. Try asking questions at your casino about earning points (both status & Comp dollars)
  3. Check out your casino data at vpFREE2 for comp information and point earning data.

Have a good session, and be aware of your play.  Remember, simply put:

Time played X money thru = comps

Bin

 

 

Gamblers Expect Hospitality at the Casino/Hotel

Besides making money, what do casino players want?

As the competition in New England increases in the next three years, ramping up to a possible 13 casinos, the main question casino personnel should be asking themselves is

“what do casino players want?”

I love to read articles about the other side of the table.  How does the casino staff and executives go about their business, and what dictates their daily, monthly and yearly decisions?

Guest service is the key to success. It’s called hospitality for a reason. Players wanted be respected and treated fairly.  We all  know (or should know) winning at the casino is not consistently possible, unless you are an AP (Advantage Player) – and these days, being an AP or Pro has become the increasing harder.

In this article, NETG will be covering only those suggestions pertaining to the casino floor, hotel and related areas.  Entertainment, dining, and other leisure/amusement activities will be left for a different post. Today is about the vast majority of the casino’s visitors, the recreational gamblers like you and me. The whole guest experience is the most important thing for casino CEO’s should be looking to improve constantly, from the initial contact through departure, whether staying overnight or on a day trip, .

Janet Hawk, from RavingConsulting.com wrote an article concerning just that. RavingConsulting.com  is a full-service gaming resource for casino consulting, guest service, casino marketing, security & surveillance, database, player development, research, online gaming, design & construct, food & beverage, management & host sales and skills training … yes, just about everything casino personnel need to know about.

I will now try to translate to the players point of view.  Here is what I think counts towards player satisfaction, recreational gambling, fun, and enjoyment. This includes those things that make gamblers stop and think if this is the right casino for them. I mean, we all understand house edge, but we visit anyway.  What makes us return, and makes us say “never again.” Here are Janet’s concerns, as well as a few added by our NETG staff. See what you think:

  1. (NETG) CONSISTENCY of RULES by EMPLOYEES When Dealing with Players.  Pit bosses, hosts, dealers, slot techs – they should all know the casino’s approach with player concerns.  Getting a different answer from two different people on the same casino team just influences a move to a different casino. A consistent and detailed way to evaluate each area in the casino is expected its visitors.  Knowing the casino is working as a team to make your stay an enjoyable one is important.

    Robert De Niro, the old intimidating image of a pit boss.

  2. (JH)FRIENDLY ENGAGEMENT with guests.  Janet goes on to suggest to casino management “Don’t just observe, but engage! It’s easy to just sit back and observe, but you have to engage to really experience what your guests are seeing, hearing, and feeling.”  Janet Hawk suggests to casino management to visit the competition, especially those doing well, and act like guests.  Instead of “bitching” about what’s wrong, players would be more interested in friendly conversation.
  3. (JH)HOTEL STAYS MADE EASIER.  Rooms should be ready, cleaned, and in working condition on time.  It should be what the guest expects it to be – and more.  Players enjoy staying in the hotel in between sessions.  The room should be a place for rest, respite, or relaxation.  It should also be a place for sleep at night, without interruption.  Complaints should be handled promptly, especially about other inconsiderate guests next to you.  I won’t go back to a place that I was not allowed to re-energize for the next morning’s session – not to mention any names like Westgate, Cosmo, and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (for example).
  4. (NETG)COMPING POLICIES SIMPLY EXPLAINED AND CONSISTENT DONE.  Don’t give me the run-around.  If you are a casino that wants to wallow in secrecy about how players earn comps, then I’ll go elsewhere.  If the casino or company is ashamed of their hard-to-get comps policy, then there are many websites with comparative information to be found.  A casino that makes players feel stupid for asking about comps makes their policies seem even more fore-boding.
  5. (NETG)GETTING MORE FOR YOUR PLAY THAN LESS – This just doesn’t refer to winning.  Although, in recent years, the “nickel-and-diming” of some industry companies makes time-in-play shorter and shorter.  Changing table game rules, diminishing payout % on slot and video poker, paid drinks and parking (are you listening MGM, Caesars?) What’s next, if player play enough, the get comped chairs to sit in?As Victoria, a new follower of NETG, says “Playing more & getting less can make a loyal player look elsewhere!”
  6. (NETG) FRIENDLY and INFORMED PLAYERS CLUB STAFF – Every time I get a card, or I visit a casino for the first time in a while, I go to the Players Club and ask “what promotions should I be aware of, today?”  Half the time i’m met with friendly, informed staff that start my visit feeling “this is the place for me.”  But the other 50%?  I might as well call up the website for a more pleasant experience. Bert, of NETG, says “Players Clubs are the first contact for most players, especially newbies.  That first contact should set expectations for the visit.”
  7. (NETG) CLEAN AND VISUALLY INVITING GAMING AREAS – I have nothing against the disgusting trail of ashes left on the VP screen by a smoker (hmmm, maybe I do?)  or the nauseating look of drinks piled up next to your machine.  CLEAN THE CASINO!  And upon entering the table game area, or any part of the casino floor, the vision in front of you should be enticing, pleasing to the eye.  No one wants to stay and play in a dump.
  8. OTHER THINGS THAT JANET HAWK SUGGESTS THAT PLAYERS WANT
  • Good WiFi signal
  • Good Signage to navigate around casino, restaurants, entertainment venues, etc
  • More electrical outlets, especially in hotel bathrooms.  And how about USB ports – now more important than ever.
  • A Coffee maker in your hotel room.  (YES!  who wants to pay $4.00+ for a coffee or wait for service on the casino floor.)
  • Not hearing employees complaining while on the job.  (Instead of standing together “bitching about the place,” try engaging with the customer.  It makes us feel special.)
  • Great customer service on the casino floor.
  • Employees who respond to a complaint with “I know” or “I’m sorry,” then do nothing to make it right.
  • If a guest needs something, don’t make them come get it, take it to them!

Janet ends by saying, “By paying attention to details and learning your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, you can improve your product substantially, and really create a wonderful guest service experience for your guests!”  A a wonderful guest service experience for your guests! That’s what both sides of the industry should want at a casino.

 

Binbin              

Comped Drink Systems Is a Good Change

Lights signal bartenders for vouchers. Some are automatic.

What happens in Las Vegas, doesn’t necessarily stay in Las Vegas.  When the casino industry changes things, those changes usually migrate across the country in one form or another. Since corporations have taken over in Las Vegas in the 1980’s, the comp systems have been slowly eroding to something of a slow squeeze to visitors and their bankrolls.  Diminished payouts, table game rules changed to add to the house’s edge, parking and resort fees, and now, good-bye comped drinks.

Let’s reminisce, shall we.  Even as of the year 2000, after parking the car in a free garage (or valet for a couple of bucks), a gambler would checking in to the hotel expecting to pay the hotel fee he booked, or get a comped room, without any add-ons.  Then, walking into the casino floor to gamble, could either find low table limits at decent rules (no 6/5 BJ) or Video Poker with good paytables.  As he/she played, they were assured of one more amenity – free drinks.  And that’s where this post really begins.

“It’s yet another revenue-generating move, as more Las Vegas casinos embrace the idea of a comp drink monitoring system that decides if gamblers are wagering enough to warrant free alcohol.” (from CasinoOrg’s post by David Sheldon  More Las Vegas Casinos Now Monitoring Players Before Offering ‘Free’ Cocktails).

IS MONITORING PLAY FOR FREE DRINKS REALLY A BAD THING?

While all the other changes by corporate bean counters has me pulling out the little hair I have left, paying for drinks through play is not so bad in this blogger’s opinion.

KTNV in Las Vegas reported “It gets rid of the people that want to hang around and play a quarter and try to basically, I don’t want to use the word scam, but basically take advantage of the system,” said Albert Tabola with Arden Progressive Systems & Games.   Tabola says, if you’re a consistent player, this won’t affect you. You will still get your comped drinks. It simply affects the people who want something for nothing.”

Long Bar, at the D, downtown Las Vegas.

For those of us who study, practice and play video poker at video bars, getting a seat to play, relax and have an occasional free drink is not only part of the experience but expected.  But those of us who are avid VP players know the frustration of people who sit at the bar, getting free drinks, while playing $.25 every 5 minutes.

Many times, these VP bars will include progressive payouts, but there are no seats available because the “ploppies” and the “squatters” don’t move.

So, is IS MONITORING PLAY FOR FREE DRINKS REALLY A BAD THING?  I say a decisive “NO!”

HOW DO MONITORING DRINK SYSTEMS WORK?

It seems there are two systems growing in Nevada – coupon and lighting systems.

Drink coupon at the Cosmopolitan, Mid-strip, Las Vegas.

The coupon system is easy to understand, just not easy to predict.  When your play equals a certain amount, the machine coughs up a free drink coupon.  A normal amount of play should not affect your number of free drinks.  For example, at the Cosmopolitan in the Vegas Strip, some players have commented they end up with a surplus of coupons not used.  But the amount of play doesn’t seem to be standardized yet, with bugs in the software of certain machines.

Caesars Entertainment officially rolled out the comped drink monitoring system by the Arden Progressive Systems & Games mentioned above at all their casinos on the Las Vegas strip about a year ago. Here’s how it works: (see image above)

It’s a green light, red light alert system designed to tell the staff if you’re playing enough to qualify for comped drinks:

  • When you enter money into a bar top machine like video poker, Blackjack, or Keno, the machine turns on a blue light to show someone is playing.
  • As you play enough, your light will turn green, alerting the bartender you are ready for a drink.
  • If you fall behind and don’t gamble at a fast enough rate, your light will turn red.

Either system is a plus.  The casino saves money, less ploppies and squatters taking seats meant for players, and true players have more seats available without ten millennials huddled behind scamming the bartender into free drinks.

THE IMPACT ON NEW ENGLAND CASINOS

The Star Bar in Mohegan Sun.

Frankly it could be two years before we see this technology.  While CET (Caesars Entertainment, formally Harrah’s) does not have a property in New England, it’s influence could move east to Atlantic City – close enough to make a mark.  By 2020, Wynn Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield will be fully operational.  We already know that Mohegan Sun has eliminated discretionary comps, but hasn’t succumbed to other national influences in the industry affecting the player.  The following casinos still have free alcoholic drinks:

  • Mohegan Sun
  • Foxwoods
  • Massachusetts Casinos – the casino bill signed into law does allow casinos to offer free alcohol to gamblers from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Massachusetts casinos are trying to extend to 4 a.m.  It has recently passed, but is still being challenged.

    Few Video Poker Machines - Single Line all in Revolution Lounge - 8 of them.

    Plainridge Park Video Poker Machines in Revolution Lounge 

Patrons must pay for alcoholic drinks in all Maine & Rhode Island casinos.  Plainridge Park Casino, in Massachusetts, while it seemingly can offer free alcoholic drinks by law, doesn’t.  Alcoholic drinks must be paid for, even at the one small VP bar with 10 machines.

The real question is “who will be first to change to a drink monitoring system?”

NETG PREDICTION – MGM SPRINGFIELD WILL BE FIRST

I would imagine they will be first to have paid parking because parking has been diminished in the resort’s initial plans and downtown parking is not easy to come buy, with paid parking already established in the city. MGM Springfield will be the first to add this drink system.  Wynn will end up with paid parking, but will resist the drink monitoring systems.  Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods will resist both to be competitive.

CONCLUSION

Drink monitoring systems are a good change at VP bars are a good change.  But, decent paytables must be offered – no more diminishing the video poker odds by diminishing the VP pay tables.  May full pay VP is a thing of the past (although Mohegan Sun still offers 9/6 JOB), but offering 6/5 JOB is just offensive – especially if you are playing for your drinks by playing.

A SIDE NOTE

The newest rumor from Las Vegas is that comped drinks through a coupon system may be added to slot machines on the casino floor.  More on that as it continues.  Wow!

 

Tomorrow, we finally take a look at the Sugar Factory at Foxwoods. 

But, that’s all for now.