Yesterday, we presented Part 1 of VitalVegas Scott Roeben’s post , of 10 Ways Thrillist Got Casinos, and Las Vegas, Wrong. “Vital Vegas,” is a website whose reason for existence is “….to give you the essential news and information you need to get the most from your next Las Vegas visit, all with a slightly skewed, and often highly-intoxicated, perspective.” However, many posts are true of casinos all over the country – which is why this post is shared today. (Please forgive the NETG asides to his already excellent article.)
Once again, I must thank Scott Roeben, of VitalVegas, for his permission copy this post. Think how it relates to our seven casinos here in New England and comment back to us. Or, send a note to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. More about Scott, his website, and his podcast (yes, the man does it all) after his guest post.
Reasons #1-5 were covered in yesterday’s post, Casino Industry Myths Disproved – Guest Post By Vital Vegas’s Scott Roeben, Part 1
Here’s Scott and part 2…….
6. Casinos Teach Players Wrong – Thrillist encourages casino guests to be careful who they learn from, the implication being that if you take free gambling lessons at a casino, instructors don’t “exactly have a ton of incentive to teach the best bets that give players the best chance to win.”
Free gambling lessons are a popular service, and it’s not on the casino to teach every detail of a given game. The idea is to give an introduction to the game, and it’s on the player to learn the nuances, odds and strategies.
Ultimately, all casino games are stacked in favor of the house. Casinos don’t have to be “sneaky.” They need to make customers feel welcome, they need to differentiate themselves from their competition (free services do that) and they need to provide a memorable, safe, fun experience.
That said, we’re not oblivious to the ways casino games avoid having big, read arrows pointing to the better bets on a given table game. You won’t find any wording about “odds” bets on a craps table, despite that bet being one of the best in the casino. And you’ll almost always see the “Big 6” and “Big 8” bets (sucker bets) clearly marked. But casinos aren’t teaching players wrong. They’re whetting our whistles, and what happens from there is up to us.
7. “Cash Advance Leads to Winless Trance” – This item seems to be included in the Thrillist article to warn us against using credit card cash advances. Great advice, but we’re baffled as to how this is a strategy by casinos to take
our money. Yes, casino ATMs charge for withdrawals and cash advances. Fees are clearly stated during the transaction. Yes, credit cards charge interest for money we borrow. Is any of this underhanded on the part of a casino? Of course not.
8. Dirty Hidden Fees, Part One: Resort Fees – Again, this item isn’t so much incorrect as it is irrelevant. Thrillist says, “Many casino hotels charge what are called ‘resort fees’—daily charges tacked on to the hotel bill for ‘resort amenities’ rather than just including them in the cost of the hotel room—which is just a way to bump up what you thought was a reasonable bill.” Fair definition, and nobody likes resort fees, but what in the name of all that’s Vegas do resort fees have to do with casinos? (NETG Aside – Travel websites have contributed to the allowance for resort fees than anything else, not casinos or even the hotels themselves) We bash resort fees often, and predicted they’ll go away this year (don’t laugh) but they’re a worldwide problem in the hotel industry. Proportionately few of the offending hotels are in Las Vegas and only a tiny fraction have casinos in them.
9. Dirty Hidden Fees, Part Two: CNF Charges – Our blog is a likely source for this entry in the Thrillist article, as we’ve ranted about CNF charges frequently. Thrillist says, “There are plenty of great restaurants in Vegas and plenty of places to eat in Vegas for $10 or less—but on [sic] of the most infuriating practices for a few restaurants, especially on the Strip, is the Concession and Franchise Fee (known as a CNF)—sticking it to diners for an extra 4.7% on every bill.” So, we’re not saying Thrillist was wrong in bashing these asinine charges at places like Beer Park and Hexx at Paris, Cabo Wabo Cantina, Senor Frog’s and Rhumbar. We’re just saying what does this have to do with casinos? CNF charges are a restaurant thing, so while sneaky, they’re not casino-related.
10. Casino Players Clubs Are Somehow Sneaky – Thrillist says casino players clubs are “the club you don’t want to be a part of,” then the article goes on to say “joining a players club at casinos will earn you ‘cash back’ and ‘players points,’ the more you gamble the more perks and points you get.” Well, they got it half right.
Getting perks and cash back for your play certainly sounds sneaky, doesn’t it?
Then Thrillist goes off the rails, stating “these clubs are designed to keep players at the tables and slot machines longer.” How do we put this diplomatically? [What] are they talking about? Here’s the truth: Casino players clubs exist to track play and reward loyalty. They’re a marketing tool. Loyalty clubs are like frequent flyer miles, and in fact, casino loyalty clubs were pretty much lifted from airline reward programs. Are airlines being “sneaky”?
Loyalty clubs offer players perks they wouldn’t get if a card weren’t used. So, it’s sort of the opposite of a sneaky way casinos take our money.
Again, many of the misconceptions and myths in the Thrillist article are common. But the bottom line is casinos don’t have to be sneaky to make money. They have two things on their side: Math and time. For every bet made in a casino, the house gets a piece. When you lose, they get your money. If you win, they take a commission by paying out slightly less than the odds would dictate.
Every for-profit industry tries to make the most of things that trigger our biases and motivations. Casinos aren’t any worse or better than the others. If you’re going to go after casinos for trying to make money with design or psychology, you also have to go after breakfast cereal companies for placing products at the eye level of kids.
Articles like the one on Thrillist perpetuate the myth casinos are somehow trying to hoodwink us. The truth is the casino industry is one of the most-regulated industries around. Casinos and Las Vegas deserve better. Dig deeper, ask questions, don’t perpetuate myths. (No, oxygen isn’t being pumped into casinos.)
The Thrillist article is still worth a read. It’s true people bet more when using chips than cash, and the article also gets it right that “there’s no such thing as free booze.”
If you want to learn more about how casinos use light, sound, interior design and ergonomics to keep the money rolling in, read “Addiction by Design” by Natasha Dow Schull. We’d love to hear your take on all this. (NETG – Read the book, slow methodical reading, but full of truths about casino designs and basics)
FINALLY, As with anything you read on the Internet, question everything and decide for yourself who gets it right.
Thanks Scott. Our New England Casino Visitors should get a lot to think about with your article.
That’s all for now – Binbin
It should be noted Scott has worked at, and for, casinos during his time in Las Vegas, which includes a pretty good history of calling out casinos when they’re doing something we don’t like (which happens far too often, actually).
The Author: I first heard Scott when I first started listening to Las Vegas Podcasts. He often would call in to “Five Hundy by Midnight,” the premier Vegas Podcast. He still appears on 360Vegas Podcast, and has his own VitalVegas podcast available for subscription from iTunes. His bio includes:
- Contributor to LasVegas.com.
- Wrote the blog for Caesars Entertainment. The blog was named the “Best Blog” in the country in PR Daily’s 2012 Digital PR and Social Media Awards.
- Named the most valuable blogger/blog in Las Vegas in 2011 by CBS Las Vegas
- Editor’s choice for Best Blog in the Trippies Awards in 2010.
- We were recently honored to be named “Best Blog” in the 2013 Las Vegas Digital Media Awards, presented by the Las Vegas Interactive Marketing Association.
- We were also named the “Best Las Vegas Blog” in the 2014 Trippies Awards, hosted by VegasTripping.com.
- As of March 3, 2014, our day job is that of Interactive Marketing Manager for the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street Experience serves as the marketing umbrella for a group of casinos including The D Las Vegas, Fremont, California, Main Street, Four Queens, Binion’s, Golden Gate and Golden Nugget.