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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Harrah’s Promotions Are the Spice of Local Gaming Life

19 September 2001

Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., which owns and operates two casinos in the Chicago-area market (Joliet, Illinois and East Chicago, Indiana), deserves a tip of the hat for sponsoring some very innovative and entertaining ongoing promotions.

Earlier this year Harrah’s "Roll for a Million" promotion at the East Chicago location played to rave reviews from local gaming patrons, much to the delight of Joe Domenico, the property’s senior vice president and general manager.

Players earned entries for their play between April 1 and May 11. The more you played, the more entries you accumulated. Weekly drawings were held to select one lucky player to roll two oversized dice for $1,000 a point. A roll of "snake eyes" (1-1) was worth $2,000, the least amount it was possible to win. A roll of "box cars" (6-6) was worth $12,000. The weekly Tuesday drawings averaged 2,500 guests.

The grand finale of the promotion was held the evening of Tuesday, May 22, when three players were selected to roll four oversized dice, one at a time, for $500 per point. If a "23" was rolled, it was going to be worth $1 million to be paid out in a 20-year annuity of $50,000 per year.

I took the time to figure out the odds: Using four dice there are 1,296 possible combinations (6 X 6 X 6 X 6). Of these 1,296 possible combinations there are two ways to roll a total of 23: 6-6-6-5 and 6-6-5-6. Therefore the grand prizewinners faced 648 to 1 odds against them in their quest to a roll for a million bucks.

The night of the big drawing there were some 200,000 entries activated. More than 4,000 patrons were present to find out whom Lady Luck would smile upon. The three lucky winners were all from Illinois: Fred Williams of Dolton and Wiley McCarroll and Maria Rocha of Chicago.

Nobody rolled the magic 23 although one player started out with a roll of six, which really got the gallery of onlookers cheering. Fred wound up taking home $8,000 while Wiley and Maria each won $7,000.

The current Harrah’s promotion, "Total Rewards Treasure Hunt", is being held at the entertainment giant’s properties nationwide. The grand prize is $10,000, a trip to Las Vegas and a stay at the Rio Suites Hotel & Casino, and the opportunity to search the Las Vegas desert November 9-11 for a buried treasure chest containing $1 million.

The promotion began June 1 and will continue through September 30. The grand prize drawing will be held October 9 at East Chicago and on October 22 at Joliet. Two Chicago-area gamblers will join the grand prizewinners from other Harrah’s properties nationwide in Las Vegas to search for the buried treasure.

East Chicago has added another intriguing twist: In August and September there’ll be a weekly drawings for winners who receive keys for treasure chests that hold up to $5,000 in cash, trips, and other prizes. Each week the chest goes unopened the cash will increase by $5,000 for the next week’s drawing.

During the month of June at both Harrah’s casinos in the Chicago-area, players earned points for their slot play that will be redeemable for prizes this month. A similar promotion is planned for July.

Don’t forget that Harrah’s Joliet is just a few months away from unveiling the first barge gaming experience in the Chicago-area, which means that the days are numbered for the twin gaming vessels that are in place there now.

Harrah’s properties have the exclusive rights to the new "Price Is Right" video slot machines based on the popular daytime game show. The machines feature the voice of announcer Rod Roddy and a bonus game spotlighting the "Cliffhanger" pricing game and the showcase showdown.

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