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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Casino Promotions Consumer Alert

13 November 2002

Casino destinations in the Chicago-area are relying more and more on cash drawings and merchandise promotions of one sort or another to drive in business. They can be a powerful lure for players to plan a casino outing that they hadn’t really intended to make on a day or at a time they normally wouldn’t even think about gambling.

That is the very strategy behind casino marketing divisions to plan such promotions and giveaways in the first place. They know that if they entice you to visit the property, in all likelihood you’re going to wind up spending some money on the slots or the table games. It must do the job quite efficiently because those offers keep coming and coming with ever increasing frequency.

Long-time readers already know that a primary mission of this column is to help recreational casino gamblers become the smartest and most well informed players they can be. One of the ways to achieve those goals is to avoid falling prey to every marketing gimmick that’s thrown our way. In other words, it’s best to plan gambling outings on your own terms rather than the dictates of the casinos.

Cash bonuses that players receive as a reward for property loyalty, level of play, frequency of visits, and amount of money wagered are a different story. These bonuses usually are redeemable over an extended period of calendar time and may be used at the convenience of the individual player.

What I’m referring to today are the drawings for cash prizes on specific days at specific times, or merchandise or promotional items that must be picked up on specific days at specific times. The intent behind many of these marketing tools is to get people to the casino with the end result being they’ll gamble some money while they’re there.

Many of the drawings are held on “off” days such as weekday nights Monday through Thursday. If you have made plans to go to the casino already, there’s no harm in taking part in a promotion that’s coincidental with your visit. But you should give second thoughts to planning a casino visit mainly for the sake of the promotion. Many times it just isn’t worth it.

Sometimes the winner need not be present to be eligible, but a trip to the casino to drop off or activate entries is still a requirement. Other drawings require that contestants be present to be eligible. There are even lures in the not present variety that offer bonuses if the winner IS present.

Depending on the nature of the promotion and its particular scope, the odds against winning are mighty high to begin with. Sure, it’s great IF you happen to win, but if you get skunked and wind up dropping some money in the machines to boot, it can be a very maddening and frustrating experience.

Some of the more “exclusive” drawings that come in the mail as invitation only can be very enticing. So can some of the offers of merchandise. But if you’re going to play above and beyond your means to participate in the events, it just doesn’t make responsible recreational gambling sense.

The best advice is to pick and choose your promotional spots wisely. If you make visits to several of the casino destinations in this market and are a member of the player’s clubs of those properties, you’re going to wind up on the mailing lists. You must therefore be prepared to make the proper choices and decisions.

One particular gambler, identified only as a 40-year-old woman from Chicago, was happy she made the trip to Harrah’s East Chicago last week for the casino’s “Monthly Millionaire” giveaway. She was the first one in the 15-month history of the promotion to win $1 million.

Contestants are selected among entries that are earned through the volume and frequency of play, based on the player’s card tracking system. Winners are asked to choose four envelopes among a selection of 12. Only four of the 12 envelopes contain a card with a dollar sign. Any contestant whose selection of four envelopes was all four dollar signs would win the cool million.

A mathematician friend of mine estimated the odds against doing it are something like 1,150 to 1, which makes the grand prize of a million dollars quite attractive. There was a lot of drama attached to the drawing as the woman’s envelopes were opened one by one. She was assured of at least $1,000.

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