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Posts Tagged ‘gaming

Man, you’d think now that school is out I’d have more time on my hands to blog! But between moving, and work, and unpacking my life is more hectic than ever! So, I return to the blog-o-sphere with more news about Internet Poker.

Yep, that’s right. The Department of Justice handed down more indictments for operators of online poker and ten more domain names were seized, including most notably doylesroom.com which is run by poker great Doyle Brunson. Now, the newest word from online poker players in the US is that many of them are considering a move to Canada in order to continue their online poker careers. According to an article on casinocitytimes.com, Daniel Negraneu, who is a dual citizen of the US and Canada is considering splitting his time between his homes in Las Vegas and Toronto in order to continue his online poker career. Currently, all online poker players in the US who earned their living by playing poker online have been unemployed since April and roughly $400 million is tied up in the poker sites that have been seized. Initially, it was thought that American online poker players would start to bring their business to live games, however, it seems here that with no legislation in sight they are more interested in fleeing the country to continue their careers.

In more local news, the Nevada Senate committee has approved an internet poker bill. According to an article published in the Las Vegas Review Journal, the bill “authorizes the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations and to grant licenses to casinos to be ready to offer online poker if Congress passes an Internet gambling bill or if the U.S. Department of Justice says online gaming is allowed under federal law.”

What remains to be seen is when and if the government is going to take some action on this issue! Some say that the indictments are the stepping stone on the way to legislation, others say the issue will get so locked up in the political system that we may never see legislation. I am tending to lean towards the latter. Of course, we are approaching an election year, and lord knows people don’t want to rock the boat when they’re up for re-election. Which is just stupid in my decision, as are most things in politics, but I guess that’s a topic for another day.

So, I pose the question to you, my readers…how do you feel about this issue now that it’s had some time to sink in? Do you think the government will move forward with legislation or do you think the issue will never get through the legal system and made into law? Do you think the US will see a “mass” exodus of poker players to countries where this is legal? Or do you think the creative minds will find some way to still play online for money despite the domain seizures and lawsuits?

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You know that old saying, opposites attract? Is that really true? Well, in terms of Poker players we’ll soon find out. Now that the dust has settled from the Internet Poker indictments, we will begin to see whether or not Internet Poker players will trek into brick and mortar poker rooms to feed their need for poker.

One of the main reasons that people play online is because they are able to play multiple games and tournaments at once. In a regular poker room, you are only able to play one game or tournament at a time, and a tournament can last hours on end without any payoff when its over. Imagine being able to play 10 or more tournaments at once. You’ve just increased your odds ten-fold. Also, the people who are attracted to online games generally come from a generation of very computer savvy, video game playing folks. They are able to work very quickly and efficiently to play as many games as possible at once and they can be very effective at this tactic. That is part of the rush for them. Imagine playing all those games online, then having to sit at a table in a poker room somewhere not in the comfort of your own home and be locked up in one tournament for 8 solid hours. BOOOORING. (See this blog post and the comments that follow for a good feel on what went down immediately following “Black Friday”) However, some big name players were requesting games in Vegas immediately following the events of “Black Friday.” So, it might be helping some rooms a little bit.

Online poker is an industry that has grown exponentially in the past ten years. It is estimated that since 2007 the number of online poker players between the ages of 18-34 grew by 27%. The draw of online poker is that players of any skill level can enter a low stakes game and learn to play without the intimidation of having to go into a live poker room and potentially be judged or laughed at by so-called “poker pros.” Poker is a very intimidating game for those who do not know how to play or who are not confident in their skills. One of the main drivers of online poker popularity was the rise to fame of Chris Moneymaker, who, after honing his craft online went on to win $2.5 million in the World Series of Poker in 2003.

However, it still remains to be seen whether or not these hard core internet poker players will end up in a brick and mortar facility, because it’s just such a different environment and is not comparable on many levels.

Do you think that brick and mortar facilities will see a spike in revenues now that the dust has settled from “Black Friday” and it doesn’t look like Internet Poker will be legalized anytime soon?

This post is officially the last one that I am posting as a requirement of my Personal Branding class with Dr. Bret Simmons. But fear not fellow readers! I fully intend on continuing on this blogging journey! So, here it goes…

Get ready for yet another great example of rewards done right! I stumbled upon a social media promotion run by the Palms Resort in Las Vegas that I think is a great direction to go in terms of casino marketing. I have talked a bit about Caesars Entertainment and how they are rewarding guests for spending money outside of gambling. This Palms promotion is very similar. Guests who sign up on their website earn rewards for retweeting deals that are posted on the Palms twitter account. You earn 10 points for each offer you tweet and 250 points for each offer that one of your friends/followers purchase. You can use your points towards the following:

This is a fantastic way to drive new traffic without having to directly attract gamblers. There are so many people on Facebook and Twitter these days, and by offering them rewards to tweet your offers and encourage their friends to purchase your offers, you are in the process of creating brand evangelists…almost for FREE! We love free!

So, I decided I better sign up for this promotion since I’m raving so much about it. Then I can report back to you and let you know if it’s all it cracks up to be! The first step is to tweet the offer of the day. Today there are two opportunities to tweet. The first is:

PalmsLasVegas

Come join our Social Rewards Loyalty Program! Earn points towards free rooms, drinks, dinners, more while in #Vegas http://bit.ly/fukEv9

What are some other ways you can attract new business without attracting gamblers? Do you think this is a good way to increase business?

There is a “tweet” button that makes it easy to use. You get 10 points just for tweeting. Check!

The next opportunity is:

Be a playboy! Rates @ Palms Las Vegas starting @ $99, access to club, $25 match play & Comedy tickets! #vegas

Once again, an easy to use “tweet” button and 10 more points. Check!

You can also post on Facebook and encourage your friends to buy the deals you share. That would be 250 points! Double check! Then I can take all my points, just for being a brand evangelist for Palms, and get free stuff. And I never even have to spend a dollar at the Palms, but you can bet when I redeem for my free hotel room, I will be spending those dollars at the Palms.

So, what do you think about this promotion?

I talked a little about problem gambling during National Problem Gambling week, but other than that, I haven’t really approached the subject. I feel that it’s important to do so now, because of new reports that states are starting to cut gambling addiction programs – and Nevada is one of the states who has cut the most out of problem gaming programs.

First of all, Nevada doesn’t have the most glowing record when it comes to problem gaming funding. In fact, up until 2006, the state hadn’t spent one penny on problem gaming programs. There were other non-profit organizations like Gamblers Anonymous that dealt with these problems, but nothing coming directly from the state. On the flip-side, by 2006, Oregon had an annual budget of $4.5 million dedicated to problem gambling services. Nevada passed a law in 2005 that would allow for the collection of $1 per slot machine in 2006 and $2 per machine in 2007 forward to fund public assistance for problem gamblers. That was a huge victory for the state in my opinion. Problem gaming is a widely under-reported and under-treated problem that wasn’t really even viewed as a legitimate mental illness until just recently and is still not accepted by the entire mental health community.

The cost of problem gambling. Click for credit...

Last year alone, Nevada cut spending on problem gaming assistance programs by more than half – from $1.7 million to a mere $600,000. This is a state who reported that almost 6% of the population has a gaming problem. That is not an insignificant number by any means. Sure, it’s likely not as high as alcohol abuse, but it is still a legitimate problem in this state. In comparison to alcohol addiction, in which 1 in 14 receive state-funded treatment, only 1 in 240 people with pathological gambling problems are treated through state-funded programs. And that will probably only get worse with these cuts.

However, this is not a problem that all states are facing. In fact, funding for gaming addiction programs in the United States is expected to rise to $56 million this year, which is an increase of about $7 million since 2008. The increase in funds can be mostly attributed to California and Pennsylvania, which have expanding gaming industries. The chart below shows funding for gambling addiction services in certain states.

What do you think a state like Nevada, who is in a devastating budget crisis, should do about funding for problem gaming programs?

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Casinos are always sending offers to guests, whether it be through direct mail or email or offers on Facebook. It’s really important to keep your message out there and keep your brand on the top of a guest’s mind, because, let’s face it, they probably gamble at other places. They are likely also receiving offers from other locations and weighing their options about what offers to choose and which to not redeem. If you try to make the offers easy to accept, then you will have the guests coming back for more from your property. Here are a couple of quick tips to making offers hard to refuse:

1. The offer should be of some value to the guest.

If you’re just consistently sending offers with slight discounts and never sending anything for free, it’s not likely that the guests will jump at the opportunity to receive 10% off of a daily room rate. Take a look at your occupancy records and find out what days the hotel never fills, and send out complimentary room offers on those days. Even if the guest is borderline in terms of worth, it’s better to have the person in your hotel with the potential to be spending money than at their own home or worse, at your competitor’s property.

2. The offer should be easy to redeem.

Ok step 1 is to give them something of value. Step 2 now needs to be making it easy to redeem. If a guest has to take too many steps to redeem an offer, it is likely that they will get frustrated and give up. Does the guest need to go through several web pages to redeem? Do they need to sit on hold forever on your reservation line? Do they need to print out multiple coupons or visit a long line at your loyalty club? The more hoops they need to jump through to redeem an offer, the less likely they are to redeem, or come back in the future.

3. Fine print.

The last thing someone wants to do when receiving a direct mail piece is spend an hour reading all the rules and fine print. If an offer is so complex that you need half a page, 5 point font, and the guest needs to break out the magnifying glass to read the rules, you might have a problem. Try and come up with offers that do not require a lot of fine print and “rules.” This will make guests much more likely to redeem in the future.

4. Create consistent content worth reading.

Finally, don’t just send offers just for the sake of sending something. This is especially true when it comes to email marketing. Have you ever heard the saying “less is more”? If a guest is receiving an email a day or multiple emails a day from a property and only occasionally something of worth comes through, than how likely is it that they will open your emails every day? Not very. I receive an offer every day from Groupon.com, and I always open the email, because they send me great deals! I have never been disappointed by an email I receive. On the other hand, every day I receive an email from Macy’s, and it’s usually just deals I can find if I go to my nearest store where they always have sales and promotions running similar to what is in the emails. So, I usually delete the Macy’s email every day. It is very rare that I open it. And this is exactly what you do NOT want your customers thinking when they see your emails in their inbox.

Works Cited

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I am more and more impressed by Caesars every day. I wrote a post a few weeks ago titled “Going Diamond” about how Caesars is offering certain members of groups and conventions to carry a Diamond level player loyalty card and enjoy some of the perks that high rollers are able to enjoy. I thought this was a great idea and Caesars has outdone themselves again.

Caesars is now offering Total Rewards bonus credits to people who use Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Instagram and Gowalla to check in to nine of the company’s locations with their mobile devices. In order to activate the program, guests have to go to TopGuest.com to activate an account and then they will receive 50 Total Rewards credits for each check-in.

Historically, casinos have stuck to only offering rewards points to those customers who gamble. Rewards points are generally not awarded for eating in restaurants, staying in the hotel or patronizing any of the other amenities a resort has to offer such as a spa. Aren’t your dollars just as valuable to a casino if they are spent in a restaurant than if they are gambled away in a machine? I would argue yes they are just as valuable, if not more-so. There’s a reason it’s called “gambling.” There’s always a chance the player will win or lose their money. And obviously a good majority of the time those dollars are lost, just because of basic house advantage and odds. However, the casino reaps all the benefits of dollars spent on a hotel room, or spa visit. The point of all of this is that my dollars should be valued, no matter where they are spent. This new move by Caesars to reward players or potential players for booking conventions or “checking-in” to their properties is in my opinion a step in the right direction.

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While Caesars has been struggling as of late to compete with companies in Las Vegas like MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands, this seems like a step in the right direction in terms of attracting new customers. I am also very impressed with Caesars’ presence in social media as well. They are a company that to me are doing a lot of things right and getting creative in a time where creativity and new programs to attract customers are so important.

Do you think this is a good idea? What are some other companies you notice that have successful marketing ideas?

It is important to have an open relationship with your customers about the status of their player loyalty accounts. Customers are very savvy about how they are being tracked and rewarded for their loyalty, and the more open and honest you can be with them, the better it will be in the long run. I read an article pointing out four ways to have the “relationship talk” with your customers.

1. Get to the point: Players need to know how many points or rewards they have available for redemption. Sometimes it is hard to communicate this information to them. One good suggestion is to include point balances in monthly mailers, however, it is also important to note that point balances are moving targets and are subject to use.

2. Branding points: If you live in a market with multiple gaming facilities, such as Reno, it is very likely that your customers are gambling at other locations in addition to yours. If you can point out to your customers how you are better or different than your competitors in terms of benefits from player loyalty programs. Let your customers know how they can use their points. Do you offer comp multiplier days? Let them know! Is there a new way to redeem points? Let them know! They will appreciate it in the long run, and if you are providing more info than your competitors, your customers might think you are offering more or better benefits.

3. Tier anxiety made clear: Sometimes, a player must be upgraded or downgraded based on fluctuations in casino play. It is important to communicate these changes to your guests. In the case of a downgrade, be gentle. Nobody wants to be downgraded, but if a player is in danger of a downgrade, let them know what they need to do to retain their status.

4. Remembering anniversaries: Honoring longevity is a great way to let your players know you care and appreciate their business. Within your database, you should take note of which players are “new” and which players are your seasoned veterans. Offers and information should be directed differently depending on what level of player you are dealing with.

Keeping an open relationship with your customers will keep them coming back for more. What are some other ways you can keep the relationship talk open with customers?


About Me

This blog is devoted to the gaming industry news and information - keeping you up to date on the happenings in the gaming world. My personal expertise lies in event planning and entertainment in casinos.

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