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Think About It
by Dennis Conrad

When you get down to it, my role as a casino marketing consultant is to come up with strategies and techniques that will get people to spend more money, that is, to GAMBLE MORE. This normally doesn't pose any dilemmas for me because I believe, along with millions of others, that gambling is a perfectly acceptable and fun activity.

But much like people who drink excessively can create issues for the legal alcohol industry, people who gamble excessively can create issues for the legal gaming industry. We all wish that there were no problem gamblers or compulsive gamblers. But there are --if you don't believe me, check out any Gamblers' Anonymous meeting in your town.

It does no good in my mind to downplay the problem or to deny that it exists. The tobacco companies did that for years, and now umpteen billion dollars later, I'll bet they wish they had been more proactive in addressing issues associated with their product. Certainly the gaming industry needs a more enlightened approach.

Now I realize that I am more than a little hypocritical to be promoting marketing tactics that encourage gambling, while I suggest that you discourage gambling among certain customers. I do not mean to preach. But with the recent spotlight on problem gambling by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission and the increased state regulatory focus on this issue (especially in Nevada), I do think that it is appropriate that I suggest some things to THINK ABOUT, from the perspective of a problem gambler, as they relate to your casino marketing and operating efforts.

With that in mind: .
THINK ABOUT what it is like for a compulsive gambler to have quick and easy access to casino credit representing as much as their entire net worth.

  • THINK ABOUT the opportunity to be a conscientious community citizen and the ability to reach hundreds of thousands of your customers when you consider whether or not to put a small tag on your advertising, collateral or direct mail that says something responsible like "Know When To Stop Before You Start" and offers a toll free helpline number.

  • THINK ABOUT what it is like for a compulsive gambler, who often can't pay the rent or buy groceries, to hear a casino advertisement that says "Come on in and win your rent, house payment or groceries for a month."

  • THINK ABOUT location of your ATM machines and how you balance guest convenience with concern for making access to cash too easy for compulsive gamblers. Do likewise when you explore technology that allows using credit cards right at tables and slot machines to receive quick cash.

  • THINK ABOUT how seriously you need to take your commitment to remove a name from your casino mailing list when a guest requests it. Some of those guests might be problem gamblers trying to cope.

  • THINK ABOUT your front line marketing program - your EMPLOYEES! - and how some of them might have a gambling problem and need help. Do you have help available?

  • THINK ABOUT taking your wonderfully creative communicating and sign making ability and using it to convey two messages: 1) Underage persons, stay out of the casino and, 2) Problem gamblers, help is available. Then place these signs where they will be seen.

  • THINK ABOUT effectively educating all of your employees in customer contact positions about problem and compulsive gambling. No you cannot make them into trained therapists or show them intervention techniques, but you can increase their awareness of the problem.

  • THINK ABOUT financially supporting your area organization that deals positively with the problem gambling issue, when you are allocating your yearly charity budget.

  • THINK ABOUT how fast your video poker machines deal out their hands from the perspective of a compulsive gambler.

  • THINK ABOUT becoming more knowledgeable about the problem gambling issue so that you will better understand how it affects your marketing and operations. Your local state Council on Compulsive Gambling is an excellent resource and would welcome interest and involvement from someone in your organization.
When you have thought about some of these issues with an open mind, you will be better prepared to take action in your marketing and operational efforts to show a sensitivity that problem and compulsive gambling do exist. Do not view this issue as a threat and you will see the opportunity to do the right thing in minimizing the damage that compulsive gamblers can do to themselves at your casino.

My sense of the casino marketing landscape is that there are still a few unenlightened executives who probably would like to get their hands on the names and addresses of Gamblers' Anonymous members so that they could market to them. However a growing number of casino executives are becoming aware that problem gambling is a real issue and are struggling to find ways to deal with it. And even a smaller, but increasingly influential third group of gamers have made real commitments to problem gamblers and their families and are making a difference. THINK ABOUT being a part of that third group when you are marketing your casino.

Dennis Conrad is the President of Raving Consulting Company and the Vice President of Fundraising for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, just pick up the phone and call the Problem Gamblers' Helpline at: (800) 522-470

Date Posted: 30-Apr-2000

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
· (775) 329-7864
· fax (775) 329-4947
· email: TheRadcon@aol.com

 
 
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