Casino Marketer

Casino Marketer

Bugsy Siegel

Washington, DC

Male, 36

I worked for over two years in Las Vegas as a Director of Marketing for one of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, and in that time acquired a bit of knowledge about how casinos have finely honed the art of parting you from your dollars, especially if you're a gambling degenerate. I know a little bit about how the entertainment and F&B side work as well, and how casinos assess gamblers.

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19 Questions

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Last Answer on November 11, 2013

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Did you have any ethical qualms about working for a casino?

Asked by DRDR8 about 11 years ago

I have never had an ethical qualm about working for a casino. I recognize that casinos can be harmful to certain members of the population in that people can gamble, including those that for whatever reason, should not be gambling. However, the vast majority of individuals look at gambling correctly - as a form of entertainment, not a way to try to make the rent or make money. I view it as a form of thrill-seeking - there's a certain excitement that comes with putting something on the line, with the potential for loss and the potential for gain. When gamblers like Michael Jordan wager what the public perceives to be "excessive" amounts, I view the reality that to me, $100 is a lot of money, but for someone like him, it's a pittance. I also feel like the overall gains to society by permitting gambling as a form of entertainment exceed the costs from gambling (e.g. gambling addiction, crime, etc.), and in my general utilitarian view of the world, that makes gambling acceptable. Also, from a personal beliefs standpoint, I think society has to draw a reasonable line about these sorts of concerns since almost anything can be abused - guns, unhealthy food, alcohol, coffee, etc. and it seems inherently unfair to dictate public policy based on what the most extreme of us do.

Any tips on the cheapest ways to get a comp'd room?

Asked by lucky777 almost 11 years ago

At the risk of sounding glib, I would say the cheapest way is to not try to get a comped room. 

I remember that one time we gave a guest a luxury car in appreciation of their play.  Can you imagine the amount that you would have to spend and lose in order to be given a car by a casino? If you're playing enough to get a comped room, chances are pretty good you're losing way more than what it would take if you just paid for the room.

Enough glibness though.  I'd say that to get a comped room, the answer is, "it depends." When do you want a comped room? Getting a comped room on a Wednesday in the middle of August is a different proposition than December 31st. What property? An expensive property like Bellagio is going to be much more than say, Excalibur.  

If your goal is to get a room as cheap as possible, I'd say use Priceline and bid for a room, ideally during a period where Vegas is not too busy.  If your goal is to earn towards a comped room by playing, Total Rewards allows you to earn reward credits for your play, which can be used towards your bill so it's really up to your gaming.  I would play blackjack or craps and not slots.  If I were playing blackjack I'd use the basic strategy card that you can buy at any gift shop so you  k now how to minimize the house edge.  But you'd have to sit there and play for a long time or use very high bets which if you have a limited bankroll mean a higher probability of you losing your money.  However, craps and blackjack, when played properly have the lowest house edge of most any other endeavor in a casino.  You'll also earn towards your comp more slowly but you'll hopefully be able to take advantage of the better odds.

When you're a rated player, it never hurts to call the booking line, give them your playber number and ask what deals you might be eligible for as well...even as a small time player, you might get a few bucks knocked off the normal rate.

Did working on the Vegas strip make you not want to go near it during your off hours?

Asked by mak attak about 11 years ago

Generally....yes. But I would say that there were some exceptions. When I first moved to Vegas, I used to live in condos right behind the Strip on the east side. I liked it, especially because it was such a ridiculously short commute- but on the flip side, what most tourists don't realize is that the area right around the Strip is generally kind of crappy. The tourist part of the Strip, is of course, great - but there are areas, say a mile or two east of the Wynn for example, where the neighborhoods are quite poor. Most of the middle class folks live in one of two neighboring suburbs; Summerlin to the North and Henderson to the South of the Strip. Basically, when guests came to town, I'd always take them to the Strip because that's generally what they want to do...they're generally not dying to check out local's casinos, for example. But otherwise, I generally stayed away. On the other hand, one of my closest friends was a huge man-whore and loved the club scene, and hit it HARD during the week and weekends, so even though he spent his days working on the Strip, he also spent plenty of nights there as well, since the best clubs are on the Strip. So I think it's a case of different strokes for different folks - though I think it's safe to say that most locals / Strip employees stay away from the Strip in their off-hours except for when they have company. Those who like to gamble do so off-Strip because the odds are generally perceived to be better on many games, especially slots/video poker (where video poker is the local's game of choice).

Why don't casinos allow pictures?

Asked by A.T.Ell. about 11 years ago

I think there's multiple reasons for this, primarily around security and privacy.  For example, they may not want people to take pictures for fear of letting someone use that information to understand the casino's security procedures.

In addition, I think in our puritanical society, gaming still has somewhat of a stigma. As such, guests may not want their picture taken while playing. So prohibiting photos also protects the privacy of its guests.

So I believe it's primarily an issue of privacy and security.

What kinds of people did you work with? Like, are they just a bunch of fine, upstanding people that you'd find in any workplace, or is there a certain personality type who works for a casino?

Asked by j-bird about 11 years ago

I would say that - as a broad generalization that is only my two cents - Las Vegas is a one-factory town (casinos). So because everything revolves around the casinos, your labor force is definitely impacted by that. Las Vegas really is one of the last places in America where a high school graduate can have a good shot at making a very good living, such as by dealing cards or valeting cars at a high end casino. As a result, I believe that there is a simultaneous dearth of culture and not much of a push for academic excellence. UNLV is the most prominent institution of higher learning locally and is middling (though the hospitality program seems relatively strong) in terms of academic rankings. To its credit though, I'd say that Las Vegas is very diverse, with a vibrant Latino and Asian population (though there isn't much of an African American population relative to most American cities). So to answer your question, I'd say that most of the people are very blue collar and hard working. Generally much lesser educated / less focused on education than other places I've lived, like Silicon Valley and DC. Casinos are like any other workplace in many respects, with politics and disagreements; though probably a bit more permissible in terms of sexual harassment types of issues than a stodgy corporate environment. I've seen people who were caught stealing, but I think plenty of corporate environments have thieves too. I can't say there's a specific type that works for a casino though - despite what I've said, I knew several individuals pursuing graduate degrees in law and business while working as a casino host or F&B manager or floor man. So perhaps the lesson is to be careful about making such generalizations!

How do licensing deals work that allow casinos to brand slot machines with pop culture imagery? I was just in Vegas and saw "Judge Judy", "Sex and the City", "Batman" slot machines, etc. How much does it cost casinos to do that?

Asked by king almost 11 years ago

Great question. I'm not a slot expert, so take this with a grain of salt.  I believe that the slots companies, like Bally Technologies, work with the owners of the rights of those companies to license the likeness/images of those pop culture icons.  I believe that the manufacturers also typically work with the rights owners to design the game to be consistent with the theme - so for example, with a Star Trek slot machine might have spaceships and the voice of cast members from the show.

 

I also believe that some games are way more in demand than others. Years ago when I worked there, a "Wheel of Fortune" game was extremely popular. Ironically, it was initially rejected by the casinos because it was HUGE (it had a large "wheel" in the middle of like, five seats facing the wheel, so it took up a huge amount of space to only seat around 10 people when they could have put twice as many regular slot machines in its place). However, it proved extremely popular, and so every casino was scrambling to get one of them in.

I believe most casinos prefer to pay for slot machines outright and keep all the profits from the machines, but in this case, I believe the WoF slot machine it was so popular that the manufacturer could demand a portion of revenues from the machine.  It's possible that the licensor got a piece of that too, depending on how the slot manufacturer negotiated the deal. 

What's the minimum action I need to give to get comped a meal / room / show tickets etc?

Asked by Jon about 11 years ago

These days, you don't really need to work that hard to figure out what it will take to get comped.  In Caesars' Total Rewards program, you get Tier Credits at varying rates for different activities:

https://www.totalrewards.com/TotalRewards/RewardsAndBenefits.do?page=trBenefits

Each reward credit earned is worth 1 cent.  So whatever the buffet costs, say $30 for the dinner buffet, you need 3,000 Reward Credits.