The casino of the future will reconfigure its slot machines via a server network without having to make mechanical changes to the machine. And it will offer even more tailored interaction with customers, including bonuses and special deals.
The new $8.5 billion Casino CityCenter in Las Vegas, which opened last month, boasts probably the first such server-based gaming network, an effort of MGM Mirage and slot giant IGT.
“Currently, casinos have to carefully monitor the device types, denominations and themes of games to provide the perfect mix for their particular clientele,” said Rich Hoffman, CEO of Jackson Rancheria Casino and Hotel.
But, Hoffman explained, “The casino of the not-too-distant future will consist of devices that are not specific stand-alone games or themed banks of machines, but chameleons wired to central servers, each capable when presented the guest’s card to become the game the customer likes to play.”
Thanks to casino players clubs that help casinos determine what games to offer and allow them to more closely target individual clients, “What you hope for today could very well be available tomorrow,” said Richard St. Jean, general manager at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, just north of Sacramento.
That’s why casino executives urge customers to join and use a players club.
“If we don’t know you are here, we can’t serve you tomorrow,” St. Jean said.
Originally, the cards would track slot machine play, and active customers would get rewards like bonus play, or hotel and food discounts.
Now, casinos track player use more closely. Many follow what entertainment, restaurants and type of lodging the customer likes, and what games are popular with each customer. Like credit cards with their regular, gold and platinum tiers, players clubs are adding many segments.
“We are able to reach out to a guest with information and values happening every day,” St. Jean said. “This becomes even more important as you begin to expand on amenities offered at the property.”
Large casinos, with large players clubs, send out hundreds of thousands of direct-mail offers, e-mails, even texting directly to cell phones each month. Casinos know to send offers on customers’ birthdays, and try to find other enticements such as shopping discounts, discounted golf or free shuttle service. The players clubs also aid with market research.
Several casinos have or are expanding their poker rooms, a response to competition, but also to customer input. Decisions about new slot machine games and new table games — such as three-card poker, card craps and roulette — are also made consulting player research.
Customers fit into different players club tiers based on the amount of their play and points earned. Based on this criteria, customers are assigned to specific levels.
A table games player who averages a $300 bet for 125 hours within 12 months might be assigned to the highest player club level, which entitles that member to use the members’ points like cash in casino restaurants and the gift shop, and toward the purchase of concert tickets, hotel rooms and spa services.
VIP check-in, priority access to the spa, events, valet parking, suite upgrades and many more rewards are available. Top-tier slot players receive all of the above, plus bonus points for use in slot machines.
— Bill Harland, vice president, table games and poker at Cache Creek Casino Resort
Tips on using players club cards
— Richard St. Jean, general manager at Thunder Valley Casino
— Rich Hoffman, CEO, Jackson Rancheria Casino and Hotel