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Ask the Slot Expert: Covid-19 and players clubs

8 April 2020

Question: My husband and I are both "Diamond" status players at Harrah's (we go to Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Biloxi and N.O.). Because we are not able to gamble because of the virus and are losing time to play to get the numbers required to maintain our status, is Harrah's/Caesars going to give us anything to help us in this regard?

Answer: Absolutely. Every company with a loyalty program that has tiers or expiring rewards is making changes to deal with the fact that it may be difficult or impossible for customers to requalify for their tier levels or to redeem rewards.

Dunkin' Donuts, for example, added 90 days onto the expiration dates on already issued free beverage rewards and temporarily changed the expiration time for new rewards to 90 days. Plus, it reissued any unredeemed rewards that expired from March 11 to March 23 with a new 90-day expiration date. Cinemark, my preferred movie theater chain, extended the expiration date for the points in its rewards program until June 30. United Airlines sent an email giving new requirements for the different tier levels.

I'm not "Diamond" status in Caesars Rewards, but I do have "Diamond" status at Regal theaters. I haven't heard anything from them about making requalifying for status easier, but then the only difference in the different levels is how many bonus points you get for each visit. Regal did send an email saying that any rewards or credits that expired while it was closed would be reissued when it re-opens.

It's taking a little while for the casinos' marketing departments to catch up with the new reality. When the casinos shut down here in Nevada, one casino sent me an email saying that it had closed, followed a few hours later by an email from the same casino inviting me to an event later in the month. The shutdown order came early enough in March for the casinos to be able to avoid mailing the monthly mailers for April, but I wouldn't be surprised if many were already printed and tons of mailers went to recycling instead of the Post Office.

One unexpected benefit of the shutdown is that the deposit date on a marker I had taken out was extended by a few months.

Your clubs will eventually send an email or mailer describing the changes made because of the shutdown. The Westgate sent an email saying that it was going to award bonus tier credits based on my last 12 month's of play when it re-opens and it is suspending the expiration of points due to inactivity while the casino remains closed.

Breaking News: While writing the above paragraph I received an email from Station Casinos. It is also suspending the expiration of points. The email addressed tier status too. "Your card tier status will remain unchanged (as of March 17 through December 31, 2020)." (At Stations, tier status resets on January 1 and July 1). I was worried about this statement at first because I hadn't requalified for Chairman status for the second half of the year when the casinos closed. I relaxed after I realized that my current requalification tier status is not my tier status as of March 17. I was Chairman on that date, so I'll remain Chairman until the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if Stations also extends the current requalification period to the end of the year instead of June 30.

I'm sure Caesars will make accommodations in Caesars Rewards.

You don't have to worry about any unredeemed slot tickets you may have. The casinos will honor them even if they have expired.


We're starting week four of Stay at Home for Nevada. I'm disappointed that I've spent so much more time at home instead of in the casino or at the movies and I don't have much to show for it. I did finally finish hooking up my audio equipment and most of my video equipment and I finally set up a monitor arm I bought 18 months ago. The activity that has taken most of my time is binge-watching a Britcom called My Family, which is sometimes challenging because the one DVD player I have that can play a PAL-standard Region 2 DVD sometimes doesn't respond to the remote or the buttons on the front of the player. I looked to see if I could stream the series, but it looks like no one has the rights to stream it in the United States and I didn't feel like looking for a VPN that would make it appear as if I were in the UK.

I started looking into streaming services to replace DirecTV a few weeks ago, but with Internet traffic up so much because so many people are working or learning from home and Zooming, I don't think is the time to cut the cord, even though I haven't experienced any problems with the Internet.

I was ahead of the curve slightly in terms of a face covering. I ordered one from Amazon at the end of March as soon as there were reports that the CDC was considering changing its position on face masks. Because the thinking of some doctors at the time was that the main benefit of a non-N95 mask for the uninfected was keeping them from touching their faces, I ordered a seamless bandana mask that is designed to block dust instead of medical mask.

It came in time for me to use it on an emergency run to the grocery store for cilantro. I needed a bunch for my latest attempt at duplicating the Coriander Garlic Chicken dish that I used to order at Nanking in South Plainfield, NJ. I was relieved to see many other shoppers with masks, some improvised from scarves and bandanas they had on hand. We looked like we were fixin' to rob the stagecoach.

It's still catch as catch can with products at the store, but that's a significant improvement over catch as catch can't. The store may not have what you want today, but there's a good chance now that it will have it tomorrow or in a few days. My brother, who lives in New Hampshire, hasn't experienced any shortages in the grocery store and is amazed that so many people are having so many problems getting what they need.

I finally had to bite the bullet and attempt a Costco trip. At the risk of oversharing, I was almost out of fiber supplement and the price for the Kirkland brand is half that of the name brands. Plus, the prices of garlic, lemons and limes are lower than at the grocery store.

My local Costco made the local news a few weeks ago when the line to get in was so long that it went through the Costco parking lot and into the parking lot of the Lowe's next door. There aren't enough Costcos in Las Vegas, so Costcos are almost always crowded. My Costco is as busy on a normal day as my Costco in New Jersey was in early December. It's nearly impossible to go to Costco around Christmastime here. You can't find a parking space.

I made my first attempt on Monday. I always park in the same area far away from the store. (Don't ask me how many times I've had to open my trunk using the button on the key fob to find my car after I've forgotten where I parked.) When I was about halfway to the store, I saw six or so people waiting in line on the side of the store. Not bad, I thought.

When I got closer I saw that Costco had roped off a section of the parking lot and set up stanchions to create a Disney World line zig-zagging to and away from the store to control the crowd. There was a sign listing what was out-of-stock at the entrance to the line. The line was too long and Costco was out of too many items I wanted, so I went to the Dunkin' Donuts down the street to use a free donut coupon that was going to expire soon instead.

Hoping that the line would be shorter, I made my second attempt this morning during senior hours. I'm a few months shy of meeting the age minimum, so I asked the employee working the line if I was close enough. She looked at me like she was thinking it over for a few seconds before saying, "I'll let you in."

I was able to get everything I needed but garlic, strangely enough. I was even able to get pasta, which was on the out-of-stock board Monday, but only spaghetti and not the mix of different squiggly shapes that I wanted. My Costco was still out of disinfecting products, but I had a nice surprise in that area. When I was emptying my trunk, I saw a bottle of Clorox cleaner and industrial size refill on a shelf in my garage. I must have seen it a dozen times the past week, but it didn't register until I decided that I should really have something like it.

Until there is a clinically proven treatment or a vaccine, social distancing is the only tool we have that we know works. The best thing we can do to help is to not get sick.

Stay home. Stay healthy.

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