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.
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
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
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%.
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.