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Ask the Slot Expert: When casinos miss opportunities to encourage players to play

16 January 2019

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

There's an expression in French, l'esprit de l'escalier, which roughly translates to "staircase wit." It refers to when you think of the perfect reply or course of action when it is too late. According to Wikipedia, the expression arose from an essay by French Philosopher Denis Diderot. In the essay, he describes a situation in which he was so taken aback by a remark made to him that he couldn't think clearly again until he was at the bottom of the stairs. It helps to know that the public rooms at the mansion where this occurred were on the second floor, so being at the bottom of the stairs meant he had left the room and it was too late to reply.

I have my own cases of "staircase wit" when I think of something I should have said in a column after I've posted it.

For example, I characterized the things I talked about in last week's column as actions casinos have taken to discourage players from playing. A few days later I realized that the actions didn't really discourage play. Rather, the situations I described were opportunities to encourage play that the casinos missed.

I ended the column saying that we have to have hope.

My first example was about Casino B. Casino B was acquired by Chain A a few years ago. Casino B's marketing was separate from the Chain's up until a few months ago. I used to receive two mailers, one for Casino B and one for the Chain, but now I received only one. I used to have an incentive to play at Casino B in addition to other casinos in Chain A. I lost the incentive to play — or, rather, Chain A took away the incentive to play — at Casino B once Casino B became just another casino in Chain A.

Well, I received a mailer from Casino B the day my column was published on this site. The mailer offered free play valid only at Casino B, a free buffet at Casino B's buffet, and gifts available only at Casino B, though now I'd have to play to get the gifts instead of getting them free as an invited guest as I used to. I don't mind having to play to get a gift I can use. One of my complaints in last week's column was that Casino B wasn't even telling me about its exclusive gifts the past two months, so I didn't have the opportunity to decide if they were worth playing for.

In this case, hope paid off. We'll see if I get more enticements to return to Casino B in February.

Question: Harrahs/Caesars has been doing a program of "Quest" over the last few years. I imagine you are familiar with them but it essentially awarded players for venturing out and gambling at their casinos across the country. The 2019 quest is drastically different in that the emphasis is not on gambling but rather on eating, drinking and paying for hotel rooms at their properties. I have pointed out that this emphasis requires that Seven Star and Diamond Players not use the free benefits they have earned with their play (the lounges and comped meals and rooms) in order to fully participate. This new Quest even limits that resort fees paid at hotels by Gold and Platinum will not count.

Yes, the new Quest does discourage players from playing.

Answer: No, I'm not familiar with the Total Rewards program because other casinos have better video poker than the Harrah's/Caesars casinos near me. Although I did have many happy stays at Caesars Palace many, many years ago when it had many 9/6 Jacks machines.

The first thing I thought of when I read your description of the new Quest was that it sounds a lot like the new rules for airline frequent flyer programs. Rather than rewarding customers just for participating (flying lots of miles), the new programs emphasize revenue, the fare paid, more than miles flown.

I found the rules for the current Quest for Rewards online. I can't speak to how the rules have changed, but I see the current rules as rewarding both gambling at a property and paying for amenities at a property. There's a section on earning badges for gaming before the sections on earning badges for your food and beverage and for your hotel spends. ("Spend" as a noun is a bit of corporate speak that should remain in PowerPoint presentations and never appear in documents for players.)

If I understand the rules, though, you're limited to a total of 15 badges for gaming activity, but 273 for food and beverage and 31 for hotel. To say that the rules emphasize spending rather than gambling is an understatement.


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 

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John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots