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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Sorry, High Rollers, This Table Is Reserved

21 January 2009

When Hollywood Casino in Aurora introduced a gaming innovation called "reservation blackjack" in March of 2007, serious players were insulted at the thought of having to pay $20 per hour for the privilege of playing at a $5 minimum table.

But high rollers and students of the game were not the players for whom reservation blackjack was intended.

Couples and friends who attend the casinos only occasionally and are just looking for a fun time playing blackjack on a bankroll that is within their means are the people for whom Hollywood wanted to have a five dollar game available at all times, even on the busiest days.

The idea had legs simply because five dollar minimum gaming tables are a rarity in the Chicago area gaming market, yet there is a demographic that desires them.

"We find that the lure of the program is less the reservation aspect and more so the limit aspect," said Alan Rosenzweig, Hollywood's vice-president of marketing.

However, knowing that you will be guaranteed a seat at a low stakes game on the day and at the time you're going to be at the casino is certainly an attraction.

"We established a price at a level people were willing to pay and one at which we could still make money; not lots of money, because you don't make much on a five dollar table," Rosenzweig said, "but enough where we could offer a service which everyone who plays seems to be happy. There is a market for this, it has remained, and it has the legs to go on."

One table on Hollywood's casino floor is dedicated to reservation blackjack. It is open seven days a week.

"Individual players, couples, and small groups of friends are more or less the people who go after the table," Rosenzweig said. "We see regulars as well as people who try it out from time to time. The average length of playing time we're seeing is about an hour.

"It's more of a Friday night, Saturday type of thing. I'm not so sure that's driven by the fact it is reservation blackjack. Those are also our busiest days. I think it goes with the current of the business flow."

The service is still a Hollywood exclusive. Reservations are accepted up to 30 days in advance.

While it is called reservation blackjack, 'walk-ups' who are willing to pay $20 to play are welcome if there's an open seat. Paying and non-paying customers are not mixed. If the table is not full, then it's not full.

"We didn't set this up as a way to put all our tables aside and make people pay, which I think a lot of people were scared of at the beginning," Rosenzweig said. "We did this to respond to a niche in this particular market."

Other properties owned by Penn National Gaming have taken notice of the market that exists for the game at Hollywood and could be bringing it onboard themselves in the future.

Phone 630-801-1234 to request more information or to make a reservation.

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