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My Gift to Table Game Operators
by Dennis Conrad

Having cut my gaming teeth in the table game environment, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the "pit" experience and the people who work and play there. If you've ever been a dealer, you understand. It gets in your blood. It stays there.

Even now, although my work mainly involves promoting what one marketing executive aptly calls the "slot ride", I find myself still being pulled back to the social dens of cards and dice. When I walk the floors of the gaming shows, I am always drawn to the new table game exhibits.

And you know what? I'm not impressed at all. The new games all blur into one for me. Big jackpot opportunities. Variations of blackjack or poker. Games I played in second grade. Three games in one. Games that look like existing games--with all the worst rules or restrictions magically gone.

It must be hard to invent table games. Why else would blackjack, craps and roulette be such incredibly enduring staples of the American casino world? Oh, okay, you can count poker and baccarat too, but we all know that these games exist in much the same way that Alpo and Gourmet Dog Snacks can occupy the same store shelf.

So it strikes me that we are doing this new table game development bit all wrong. Why don't we take an existing game and just find ways to get more people to play it? Or more players to stay at it longer? What a concept! And now I'll share my gift with the table game operators. It's right under your noses. And it's the biggest missed opportunity in the American casino today. It's the game of craps.

Now I'll admit I'm biased. I dealt the game for 10 years and I still love playing it--when I can find 100X odds or free buy bets.

Still, I know when I'm right. Craps is the most fun game in the casino and the single game that gamblers secretly wished they knew how to play. Period. I could spend the rest of this article trying to convince you of this truth that craps is a sleeping giant, but I'd rather tell you how I'd awaken it. So here it is:

THE FORMULA FOR INCREASING YOUR CRAPS REVENUES BY 1,000% (You'd read this if I said 10% ?)

I. GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND SHOW 'EM WHAT TO DO.

I was a crap dealer for 10 years and I worked with all sorts of dealers, good and bad. Some of these people would fall under the prescription of the "right people", but not many. If you want to grow your revenues by 1,000%, you can imagine that you'll need some pretty special people.

The crap dealers that I'm envisioning and that you need to hire must be performers at heart and thrive being on the crap stage, the most theatrical setting in the casino. They must have the teaching skills and patience of your favorite grammar school teacher and must be able to make learning fun. They must have the trusted sales skills of the most reputable life insurance agent. They should possess the mathematical knowledge of probability of a solid high school or college student. They must be patient. Understanding. Compassionate.

Simply put, to increase your craps revenue by 1,000%, your crap dealers need to be the most talented employees that you have. Then you need to train them (and continue to train them) on creating an experience that isn't just "problem free", or "guest friendly" but is nothing less than MEMORABLE.

If you're not prepared to make this commitment to having the right people in the right environment, stop reading this column right now. My gift to you will be no more valuable than a cheap Christmas tie.

II. PAY FOR PERFORMANCE

Once you find the right people, find a way to pay them for performance. And link that performance to what you are really trying to create, which is:

1.) Happy new crapshooters
2.) Happy current crapshooters (especially from your competition).
3.) Cash in the drop box. Paying crap dealers a nominal wage and allowing gamblers to supplement it through a tipping system that rewards good and bad dealers equally, will not even come close to encouraging the 3 outcomes above. In my perfect casino world, I might try paying crap dealers a generous base salary that has bonus incentives based on:

A.) the cash dropped in the box for that shift,
B.) feedback from a cross section of surveyed players at a table and
C.) some measure of new customer development, like names and addresses, V.I.P. cardholders produced or new room nights generated from previous non-lodgers.

III. PROVIDE A SHOW

Creative casino marketers, this is your chance! Make fun happen at your crap tables! Now that you have the right people in place, this should be easy.

Have your dealers provide never ending instruction, stopping passing gawkers in a humorous, inviting way. Try innovations like one person crap "tubs" for more personal (and less intimidating) interactions. Simplify the craps layout and add a payout table to it. Tinker with stage, costume and lighting effects. Loosen the prop bets. Let players keep the dice after 8 straight passes. Announce each new shooter along with their hometown. Provide rewards and a spotlight for first time shooters. Try installing a meter to measure the longest shooting performance. Encourage ovations. Serve special drinks from special cocktail servers (a frozen dice-ery?). You get the picture--make it a great time, or else!

And there you have my gift to the table game operators - a new way of thinking about an old game. NEW IMPROVED CRAPS--EASY TO PLAY. FUN TO LEARN. WIN BIG. MEET NEW FRIENDS. AND OH YEAH--GROW YOUR CRAPS REVENUES BY 1,000%.

Why not?

Date Posted: 30-Jul-1999

DENNIS CONRAD is the president of Raving Consulting Co. which specializes in Common Sense, Customer Focused, Marketing Consulting for the gaming industry. He can be reached at: 475 Hill Street, Suite G, Reno, NV 89501 · (702) 329-7864 · fax (702) 329-4947 · email: TheRadcon@aol.com.

 
 
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