For the first time in longer than I'd like to remember, I have had the pleasure of managing a
table game operation that is experiencing strong double-digit growth. Not by any real magic
or changes in market conditions or accounting practices but rather our local table games
business, in recent times, has been significantly boosted by the introduction of innovative
new gaming technology, a new product mix and a benefit-laden new loyalty program. Let me
share with you some of the success stories so that you too might be able to achieve the almost
unthinkable, double-digit growth in a local and mature table game business.
Let's start with the loyalty program and our strategy of looking after our high frequency and
high worth players. Firstly, after the introduction in December 1999, loyalty club members
playing the tables went from 30 percent to in excess of 50 per cent. A statistic that is very
rarely seen anywhere in the world for table games. More than half our players now actually
want to use their loyalty card on our main floor gaming tables.
How did this happen? The jewel in the crown of the new table reward system is "Casino
Cash." "Casino Cash", which can be redeemed Monday to Thursday for free play chips or
other in-house benefits, has led to an increase in mid-week play and provides our better
players with the benefits and recognition they deserve. This program has clearly illustrated
the power of a well structured marketing program to modify customer behavior. In short, we
gave the target customers what they wanted. An easy to understand, tiered reward system
with tangible benefits that our players actually appreciated and wanted to use. It also
encouraged our target, higher value players to spend more time at the tables and play higher
limit games. We did this by having four levels of rewards associated with table limits and by
incorporating a random "Casino Cash" bonus for playing for three hours or more in a single
day. That bonus is also tiered based on game limit, and so our best players have the chance to
walk away with $100,000 at any time during our mid-week periods, while players at lower
limit games only get the chance to win $5,000 in "Random Casino Cash."
During the year we also introduced an airline style "business class" philosophy, transforming
one of our pit areas into a more exclusive, higher limit gaming salon. Learning from the
airlines we made sure that our higher value local customers got far better service than they
had previously. Not high rollers or premium players just our avid, experienced players of
high frequency visitation and high worth. Better drink service, hot towels delivered every two
hours and snacks being brought to them at the table game to keep them comfortable and
satisfied at all times. Nothing too extravagant, just the sort of service you'd like and
appreciate if you were a regular player who played on a $50 minimum bet Blackjack or
Baccarat table regularly.
Now, I really can't take too much credit for these initiatives as all we really did was look at
what the airlines had been doing for years in their loyalty programs and service philosophies.
Interestingly though, apart from Harrah's, not too many others in the casino industry had
thought to "swipe" well proven concepts from other industries.
Changes in product mix have also proven to be highly successful. Seventy-six lower limit
Blackjack tables were replaced with "Crown Pontoon", increasing the win per open hour
significantly. "Crown Pontoon" is a variation on the game of Blackjack that gives more
betting options and winning bonuses. Players were also attracted by the introduction of a new
bonus payment system on this particular game, with thirty of the tables having a "Madness
21" option included but being called "Pontoon Pandemonium" in our case. A bit of a
mouthful of a name but this side bet gives players the chance to win $250.000 for a $1 bet.
The contribution from our lower limit Blackjack tables had been disappointing, but given that
we had so many Blackjack players what we needed was a way of effectively increasing the
price of the product without damaging its market perception. Pontoon did that for us.
The introduction of another new game, "Crown (modified) Baccarat," has also resulted in a
productivity increase for the house and a substantial increase in monthly winnings as this "No
Commission Baccarat" style game has been well accepted by our players. This level of player
acceptance has also been experienced in other parts of the world, including, recently, Detroit,
with the game's introduction at MGM Grand. Essentially, this game change has increased
game productivity, the underlying house advantage, and has also made Baccarat much easier
to deal and supervise. This latter point has also led to a reduction in supervision levels at
these tables, which, in turn, has led to decreased labor costs.
The world-first introduction of "Rapid Roulette," a dealer operated, semi-automated version
of a regular roulette table, has likewise been a major success. Players sit at a touch screen
terminal and bet by placing on-screen chips onto the replicated graphical roulette layout.
Crown's Rapid Roulette tables are already outperforming standard tables by more than 75
percent and reducing labor costs by as much as 60 percent. More importantly, it also appears
that this game appeals to a quite different market segment and we have found that standard
roulette play has been unaffected. So our additional revenues have been almost entirely
Plans are in place to roll out automated versions of other table games, including Two Up, Big
Wheel, Sic Bo and Baccarat. In the near future we also hope to create a new variant of Crown
Pontoon that can be played on this platform.
During the year we have been developing exciting new "chip in chip" technology – in which
a microchip is embedded in a betting chip – to be rolled out late 2000. This groundbreaking
technology will initially be used in our private salons and on high limit games and will allow
us to accurately track turnover and win/loss by individual player and game.
A theme which runs through these product initiatives is that we have constantly looked at
ways of enhancing the player's gaming experience while at the same time increasing
operational efficiency or effective price. Not an easy balancing act but we've either made the
game more comfortable, more exciting or less intimidating when considering how to
implement these products. So, while we make more money, the customer has still felt that the
positive attributes added outweigh any other changes which are mostly concealed in game
volatility in their short run experience in any case.
Finally, three major marketing promotions – Blackjack Blast-off, Roulette Rich Rewards and
Casino Cash Million Dollar Giveaway – have also helped and proved to be major drawcards.
These have been tailored to expose our targeted customer base to the world-class facilities
that our property offers, in addition to providing the eligibility to participate in a draw that
provides for "life altering" winnings. An overall experience on the gala nights associated with
these promotions that will be remembered as a highlight of these players' lives. We have
great facilities that often we don't share with our regular, high value, local customers. If we
can make them feel so special maybe we can turn these players into advocates for us. Far
better than any other marketing we could ever pay for. Our own players raving about "their
I trust you've enjoyed sharing in my success stories. Share your own successes so that we all
can make our businesses prosper and grow by learning from each other and looking to a
world of great opportunities.
Tables Games: We Deal Out The Best!