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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Are Casino Player's Clubs Our Friends or Foes?

8 March 2006

Strategies and money management techniques for gamblers are almost universally reserved for slot machines, video poker and table games, but what about the other resource that casinos have to bolster their bottom lines that pose as much of a threat to a player's finances as betting?

At issue here are player's clubs. On the surface they are innocuous marketing tools which allow casinos to collect data bases on their customers and in return permit players to build equity in the form of on-site and direct mail cash back, free hotel rooms, complimentary dinners and promotional giveaways and events.

But are they really veiled systems that casinos use to relieve gamblers of a greater percentage of their entertainment dollars?

The answer is they can be, but only if players let it happen. If you permit yourself to be manipulated by player's clubs, they can turn on you. Conversely, if you accumulate rewards based on your own terms rather than those of the casino, they can be valuable tools to reap some perks in return for your patronage.

The very worst trap for gamblers is to become a "slave" to the system. When more gambling trips are made, more money is bet and more time is spent at a casino than a person is truly comfortable with, then player's clubs are using you instead of the other way around.

Tiered player's club programs whereby gamblers are enticed to make more frequent visits and bet more money in order to attain the next level, which of course offers more perks, are the primary means by which casinos use the system to their own advantage.

Another way is to send out direct mail cash back offers or promotional invitations that are valid only on a specific day. It is self defeating to make an unplanned visit to a casino to cash a $15 coupon or receive an inexpensive gift if you're going to wind up gambling in the casino and risk losing a whole lot more.

The high roller crowd is not the most vulnerable group. People who bet thousands of dollars during a gambling outing are going to get whatever they want any way. Nor are the occasional players, those who go gambling maybe four times a year and desire to keep it that way.

At highest risk are average recreational gambling enthusiasts, the semi-regulars who go to casinos as frequently as once a week. They are the prime group that casinos target for brand loyalty and are the ones most likely to fall prey to gambling more than their individual comfort levels dictate.

The best advice is to by all means join the player's club at every casino you play and use your card every time you gamble. But build equity based on your terms, redeem rewards only when you want to, and make a concerted effort to use player's clubs to enhance the quality of your gambling experiences rather than complicate it.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp