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Casino Marketing on the Internet

18 October 2000

Casinos are constantly on the lookout for ways to attract your business and, even more important, to keep the steady players coming back.

That usually means a combination of cash back and comps offered during a casino visit through player ratings cards, and additional offers sent through direct mail to encourage return visits.

Hollywood Casino in Aurora is kicking it up a notch through its Web site, www.hollywoodcasinoaurora.com, designed in conjunction with Interactive Sites of Scottsdale, Ariz. The site's interactivity raises the bar for the entire casino industry.

Other casinos have sites. Most offer photographs of the property and descriptions of amenities. A few let you make hotel reservations online.

Of Chicago-area casinos, only Trump and Harrah's join Hollywood on the Web. Trump offers basic property descriptions at www.trump.com. There are changes coming to Harrah's site, www.Harrahs.com, but more on that below.

Hollywood's site is different. There, you can sign up for the slot club online, or if already a member, check how many point you have on account. Hollywood can offer comps online, and those receiving the comps can make reservations with a click.

"It's an easy-to-use site that we think people will love," says Alan Rosenzweig, Hollywood's marketing director. "We want to be the leader, not just on the Web, but in making direct marketing easier and better for our customers."

The interactivity starts on the home page. Those who are not members of Hollywood's players club have the option of signing up online. They can either click on "Become a Member" and sign up for a Screen Test card, or click on "Just Visiting" and do a little exploring before they decide.

Those who sign up online still have to visit the club booth at the casino to pick up a card. State regulations designed to prevent marketing to underage players prohibit sending new members' cards through the mail. But when the new members arrive at the casino, their information will already be in the computer, so they won't have to wait for an attendant to punch in the data.

I've long been a member, so I punched in my card number and started clicking away.

Before long, a pop-up window opened, offering complimentary tickets to see Bob Goss and his Silver Sizzles review. I clicked on Entertainment, and found a listing of coming attractions, including Frank Sinatra Jr. on Oct. 7 and Carrot Top on Oct. 13.

Some players also will find a hyperlink to make reservations for complimentary tickets. They can click on "Reserve," and they will receive by e-mail a confirmation and instructions for picking up their tickets. Because offering comps online is much faster than through the mail, more players may find themselves eligible for entertainment comps. If a show is slow to sell out, Rosenzweig says he now will be able to offer comps to the next tier of players.

I clicked on Star Points Member Information, and not only checked my points, but entered my e-mail address and preference. The player can choose whether to have Hollywood e-mail all offers, including bonus cash vouchers, e-mail only non-cash promotional offers, or e-mail only news and events.

Most sites give you a link to an e-mail address. Under Give Us Your Review, Hollywood goes another step and lets you click on a department to receive your comment or complaint. One copy goes to Rosenzweig, and another goes to the head of the department in question.

Information on games available is just a click away, as is a description of the property, information on restaurants and other Aurora attractions.

Hollywood is leading the way in a direction other casino sites are sure to follow. But Rosenzweig says there's more to come.

"This is only just the beginning," he says. "We're in development with the second phase, and that's really going to revolutionize how direct marketing is done."

HARRAH'S MEETS IWIN: Harrah's is stepping up its online involvement in a different way. Harrah's Entertainment, the parent company of Harrah's, Rio and Showboat casinos, has announced a two-year collaboration with Iwin.com, a leading games-for-prizes and Internet lottery site.

The venture began Oct. 1 with a promotion called "iwin@Harrah's," "iwin@Showboat" and "iwin@Rio," with cash and prizes totaling $1 million. Each month, Iwin.com will award cash prizes and seasonally themed vacation packages in a special Harrah's prize area on the site. Watch for details both at Harrah's casino and at www.iwin.com.

Harrah's own site, www.Harrahs.com, continues to promise that Total Rewards will be coming to the site this fall. At the moment, basic property descriptions are about as far as the site goes, except for a link to Harrah's Las Vegas that allows you to make hotel reservations online. With properties across the United States and a key alliance with National Airlines, the Harrah's site has terrific potential.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski