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My free play decreased too

21 February 2009

Hi John,

I don't know whether this falls into the same category as the person writing about the free slot play or not.

Last year my husband and I were pretty consistent with our play almost weekly to twice monthly with a good amount of play each time. Then in August we hit a couple of larger jackpots and we were playing weekly at a much higher playing amount than our prior play, but our free comp play never went up — actually mine dropped $10!

We kept writing and writing our casino (Seneca Allegany-NY) and never received an answer. Then this month out of the blue my co-worker and my son-in-law tell us they both got this "big" amount of free comp play (larger than my or my husband's) and they only go maybe twice in a year!

This has my husband and myself fuming! We are driving two states over almost weekly playing more than these people put into one trip and we are being slapped in the face with low offers. I told our son-in-law that they are just trying to "lure" them into playing with the higher offer and then they will drop the offer. My husband says we should quit playing down there for 4 or 5 months and see what kind of offers they will send begging us to come back. It just hurts that they are trying to drive the good regular player away by driving down our comps.

What do you think? Are we wrong to be fuming?

Nancy

Dear Nancy,

You are definitely not wrong to be fuming. I think we have a situation here that is similar to one in which a casino gives great gifts and incentives to new slot club members and nothing to existing members.

I have read about some casinos taking player behavior into account when figuring out the offers that will be sent to players. The positive side of this procedure is that the offers sent to players are supposed to be for things that they value. For example, a person who always eats at the steakhouse and never at the Asian restaurant will get an offer for the steakhouse, not the Asian restaurant.

Another aspect of taking player behavior into account is trying to offer the minimum amount necessary to change the player's behavior. Why send a steakhouse offer, the thinking goes, when a buffet offer would have been enough to get the player to come back?

As I said in my original reply, every casino has its own formula and philosophy for figuring out the offers it sends out. I think you put your finger on your casino's philosophy. You and your husband are regular players, so the casino felt it did not need to sweeten the deals it sent to you even though your action increased.

Your co-worker and son-in-law, on the other hand, are infrequent visitors. Unless they live within 30 minutes or so of the casino, the casino knows that $5 or $10 in free play or a free buffet isn't going to be enough of an incentive to get them to make the trek to the casino. A free room night or a couple of buffets or $25 to $50 in free play, however, might just be enough.

It's similar to signing up new slot club members or new cable or satellite TV subscribers. There are great offers for new customers, but existing customers pay the going rate.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


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

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