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Casino Player Rating Systems

Andrew MacDonald 05:10 Feb 21st, 2006 Games

Casino Player Rating Systems. by Andrew MacDonald Casino Player Rating Systems. From evolution to revolution. Years ago Casino Managers decided that they could stimulate play by offering; “free” trips, room, food and beverage deals to specific customers. They “knew” they held between 20% and 40% of the average front money or bankroll brought by a customer. So if a player was willing to bring $10,000 to gamble they based their decision on how much to provide in complimentary benefits on that basis. So depending on the policy of the Casino they might have given 10% of the players bankroll back to them in complimentaries. So, if you bring 10 grand we might have given a $500 airfare, 2 nights accommodation, show tickets and paid for their food and beverage during the stay.

Well you don’t have to be too bright obviously to use such an arbitrary system to your advantage. The more you bring the more you get and you don’t have to play any differently. So, Casino Managers moved from what were relatively arbitrary systems often based on personal contact and knowledge of players to more mathematically based criteria for establishing a customer’s value. To do this, however, you need to determine average bet levels, type of game played and length of period played. So for example, we know that a player plays $500 a hand at Baccarat for 1 hour. Based on other surveyed and statistical data we also know that on Baccarat we have 45 resolved hands per hour and that the house advantage is approximately 1.25%. Therefore, the player’s theoretical loss will be around $280. Again, depending on the individual Casino’s policy we might provide between 25% and 50% of that back, to the player, in complimentaries.

To work this through and collate this information for a large number of players, Casinos turned to computers with significant processing power and the ability to manage large databases. But there are still “holes” in this system. We still manually estimate average bet levels and manually input the data. Also, we use system averages for various factors which may not be representative of the actual play. Thus, while this system is certainly better than the old “gut feel” approach it still may under value some customers while over valuing others. To overcome this, various systems have been developed which record every aspect of a customers table play.

The most sophisticated examples of which are Mikohn’s SafeJack and SafeBac systems both of which are still really in an R&D phase. SafeJack for example monitors every aspect of a Blackjack game. Each time a card is removed from the specially designed dealing shoe it is read and displayed on the Dealers small V.F.D. screen in front of them. Once the player has two cards the total is shown for the Dealer. On the round of play being completed the screen also shows the Dealer whether or not the Player has won, lost or drawn. Embedded within the gaming chips the player uses is a micro-chip which has an assigned value and is encoded so that it may be ascribed to particular players. Built into the table under each betting box is a small aerial which means that not only do we know which cards are dealt to each box but how much is being wagered and by whom. The players themselves are identifiable by their mag-stripe player card with their details encoded thereon. In the future, Smart Cards may carry even more information about the players. Thus, it is possible to know exactly how much a player bets, how many hands they play and even how good their play is compared to Basic Strategy on Blackjack.

Of possibly more interest to Casino Operators in Australia is a similar system for Baccarat. Given that this is the game of choice for many high rollers from Asia and that Australian Casinos currently spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year manually recording the individual bets made it is easy to see the value in moving to such a system. Also now that we have varying government tax rates on different business segments in many Australian States it would be clearly advantageous from the regulatory perspective to have more foolproof automated systems. Once this level of accuracy is achieved for table game play then no doubt we will see the true integration of slot club marketing systems with table game player rating systems. Many slot clubs (gaming machine clubs) both in the United States and now in Australia offer Cash Back to players either based on their turnover (total amount bet) or their theoretical loss. For high rollers on table games the same is true, although we certainly don’t advertise it as “Cash Back” for this group but refer to these as Commission Based or Discount programs. For lower level table game players, at the moment, this does not happen. Once, though, we have smart systems on tables then that will change and whether you play table games or slots or both you will be treated no differently.

Our player databases for gaming machines already provide us the ability to study player demographics and value. From this we can generate specific offers for certain clients. For example, between Conrad Jupiters and Treasury Casinos they have a joint frequent user club called “Casino Rewards”. In this they have 3 levels, white, silver and gold card holders with the colour of the card relating to the player’s value. A system not unlike Harrah’s highly successful “Total Rewards”. Using the database and specifying criteria they can, for example, isolate all gold card holders living within a 30 minute drive and who also have an interest in golf and invite them to a special function in-house to meet Greg Norman and obtain an autographed golf shirt. By coding the responses it is then possible to measure the response rate and the revenue generated by these players on the day and thus analyse the net benefit of the promotion. With a broad based accurate table rating system offering real benefits to customers the same could occur with table game players. For example, Jupiters held a promotion called Roulette Rewards.

Here a “Casino Rewards” Member who played Roulette at an average bet of $20 per spin per hour received 1 computerised entry ticket into a prize draw for a car. If the player played for more than 2 hours in a day they received double entries. The determination of the average bet was still a manual process with the data entered into the computerised rating system at the conclusion of play. However, here we had a first attempt at using a computerised player rating system for conducting a promotion in the same way as we would use our slot system. Jupiters has since been integrating more of their Gaming Machine promotions with Table Games so that from the player’s perspective they receive comparative value on all games not just some. Incorporating all aspects of the facility is felt provides a strong point of difference in relation to their direct competitors. This may to some degree spark a resurgence in the public’s interest in table games. Certainly it will open up to Casino Marketing Departments the prospect of using all the tricks of the trade on Tables in the same fashion that they employ these, so successfully, on Slots. So let’s bring on the revolution and encourage the technological innovation that our Table Games businesses so badly needs.