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Players' clubs

5 February 2015

It’s been roughly 30 years since the process that led to today’s sophisticated player rewards systems began. Casino operators had recognized that the industry was changing from a table-centric business to a slot-centric industry, and they needed a way to reward slot players to keep them coming back.

Today, no casino would be without a rewards system and targeted promotions package, but the specifics differ from casino to casino, and readers often forward me questions about how best to take advantage of what’s offered — or just wondering why things are the way they are.

A few have landed in my e-mail box since the beginning of December. Let’s see if we can sort them out.

My neighborhood casino has double points and triple points nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Why not on weekends when I’m not working? Also, how many times points would I need to overcome the house edge?

The casino is using the double and triple points as an attraction to attract customers on soft days that usually have less business. Operators don’t need the extra attraction on crowded weekends.

As for overcoming the house edge, every casino has its own rewards level, but as an example, let’s say 0.25 percent of play returned as free play on slots, and 0.125 percent on video poker. If penny slots return 88 percent, then you need 12 percent to break even, and that means 48 times points. If dollar slots return 95 percent, then you would need 20 times points to make up the difference between that and 100 percent.

Video poker depends on the quality of the games. If your casino has 9-6 Jacks-or-Better, which returns 99.5 percent with expert play, then a good player needs to make up only half a percent. At a 0.125 percent rebate in free play, that means four times points will do it. However, if the Jacks-or-Better games have an 8-5 pay table instead, that’s a 97.3 percent game with expert play, and making up 2.7 percent means 21.6 times points.

There’s an interesting promotion where I play. On certain days, they give $100 in free play every hour to someone who’s using their rewards card while they play. Are the rewards random? Is there a way to increase my chances?

Typically, such rewards are random, yes. A random number generator is used to select a winner.

Players who are there throughout the promotion day have the most chances to win, of course, but assuming you’re not an all-day player, your best chance is to be active during the lowest-traffic times of the day.

Let’s say the casino is operating the promotion from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. If 200 people are playing at 10 a.m. and 1,000 in prime time at 8 p.m., then you have a 1 in 200 chance of winning early and a 1 in 1,000 chance of winning later on. Your chances are better when there are fewer people competing for the prize.

My rewards club gave away cookware, one piece at a time, for several weeks. It was first come, first served, and if they ran out of giveaway items, too bad. I got the first five pieces, no problem, but on the last piece, they ran out while I was standing in a miles-long line. I was still about 20 people back when they shouted from the front that they were out. There must be a better way.

Your problem has plagued casinos practically since the beginning of giveaways. It’s unsatisfactory on several levels. For one thing, lengthy waits in line mean you’re not playing the games for that time, and that’s not profitable for the casino. Also, players are going to want to get in line early so as not to miss out, which means they either carry their prize in the casino for the length of their stay, or they take it to their cars. Some of those who go to the cars don’t come back to play, defeating the purpose of the giveaway.

On top of that, a customer who lines up only to be told there is no prize is likely to be disappointed, if not angry. It’s self-defeating for a feel-good promotion to create disappointed customers.

There are a few things casinos can do to solve the problems. They could shift the beginning of the redemption process to a bank of player rewards kiosks. You’d start by swiping your card at the kiosk, and if there was a prize for you, the kiosk would print out a ticket that you could then exchange for the prize on your way out of the casino. Players would know quickly whether there was a prize for them, and those in time for the prize could pick it up on their way out instead of carrying it around the casino.

Casinos that wanted to take it another level could alleviate the disappointed customer factor with substitute prizes. After the full quota of redemption tickets had been printed, the rewards kiosks could offer later customers an equivalent amount of free play, or a dining credit – “Sorry, we’re out of today’s cookware item, but please take this $25 in free play and enjoy your stay.”


Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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:

> More Books By John Grochowski