Table Games

Tips for us operators from a seasoned gambler!

Now that I don’t foresee turkey in my future for the next eleven months, and next week it’s back to work after the holidays, I wanted to share something that I learned about gambling this holiday season.

Back in November, the first turkey of the season was officially consumed, and then washed down with a sampling of dessert. As we stared at each other in our food comas, I heard my 23-year-old son exclaim, “now what?” In the past, we would play a few games, retell a few stories, and then watch a movie before passing out. Except for my mom, that is. As we would be shutting off the lights, she’d be pulling out of the driveway for an evening at the casino. You see, my mom has visited more casinos than some slot sales vendors. She loves them. In fact, I am actually one of those kids who has stayed in the Circus Circus child care center while my mom gambled.

This year, my son and I decided to tag along with her to learn a few things from a real casino VIP. My son loves table games, and Grandma said that she would show him the ropes. For me, it was an opportunity to share an experience with my mom and son. It was also an opportunity to observe a Baby Boomer and a Millennial in action. My mom will either play slots or table games. But since we were with a Millennial male, it was off to blackjack or roulette, his games of choice. Grandma did give a quick Three Card poker lesson, but I was determined that my bankroll was going down a bit too quickly. (Remember, I am funding two players at this point … my college student and me.) As we settled into our seats at Spanish 21, we received our chips, offered our players club cards, and requested beverages.

As we played, I fired questions at our seasoned player, hoping to discover the missing elements for creating an experience that would keep players like her coming back. After more than twenty years in the industry and listening to hundreds of focus groups, I shouldn’t be surprised that her requests are very simple. Here are a few simple things you can do, according to this VIP customer, to keep her coming back (and for the record, the Millennial agreed):

1. Easier to get a beverage.

“I don’t want to leave my table or machine. Please keep coming back. I will tip you, but I just want to keep playing.” (Why can’t we get this right? This is an ongoing, universal complaint. It should be easy at table games. We welcome people into our home and offer them a drink. Let’s do it when they join us at a table too).

2. More change staff.

“I will use the change machines, but if I like the machine and need cash, I don’t want to leave. If I leave, then I am done playing.”

3. I want to celebrate my wins.

“I miss hearing the bells and whistles. If I win, I want to celebrate! But get rid of the clapping on the games when I only win $1.50. You can’t fool me into thinking that is a win.” (This goes for table games too. This is entertainment. We are taking the game too seriously, and it shows.)

4. Don’t keep me waiting for my payout.

“Pay me out so that I can keep playing. If it takes too long, sometimes I will just go home.”

5. Watch what you say to each other.

“As a player, I watch how you treat each other. For example, I was playing roulette and the pit boss reprimanded the dealer. It was awkward. I also get irritated when I hear staff gossiping with each other. I appreciate places where the staff are attentive and focused on their jobs.”

6. Don’t pool tips.

“I know which employees take care of me, and I want to reward them. Not the ones who stand around talking to each other and ignoring me.”

How many times have we seen this list as operators, but for some reason, we can’t seem to consistently hit the mark? It’s always the lack of basic service that frustrates our guests. We get so focused on our regulations, personal problems, or tired feet, that we forget that this may be a player’s first visit to our casino. This is especially true during the holidays. This can be a great time to cultivate new players. And it is also an opportunity to have our existing players invite their family and friends to their favorite casino to meet their favorite casino staff.

When it was all said and done, we made a respectable contribution (between gambling, food, and a hefty bar bill). I made it until 11 pm (this was staying out late for me). My son came home around 1:30 am, and my 72-year-old mom showed up at 4:15 am. (By the way, she was up having coffee with the rest of us by 7:30 am.) I think that Turkey and Table Games will become a new tradition.

PS – What I wouldn’t give for a picture of the three of us playing Spanish 21. Is there a property out there that accommodates “selfies”? If so, yay for you! Don’t roll your eyes. Imagine if you had hundreds of photos roaming through cyberspace of your players sitting and smiling at one of your table games. Maybe one of the pit supervisors could offer to take a photo for the player. Millennials would love it, and I would have talked about it forever.

Deana Scott