Mobile technology may become the casino industry’s new best friend and the creative marketers at Station Casinos are all over this.
Their thinking deals with a new smart phone app designed to ease the search for answers to questions that help shape the kind of satisfying experience that brings repeat business.
Questions like, what time does the movie start? Can I get a reservation at this or that restaurant while avoiding lines at casino kiosks?
The technology is all about building relationships in an environment where competition for discretionary dollars continues increasing.
Did anyone ever believe the gaming and entertainment business could be so user friendly? It wasn’t so long ago anyone walking into a sports book with cell phone in hand got frowns from the security people.
But Station Casinos is not the only company embracing high tech mobility. Companies large and small have created player loyalty clubs and are regularly tweaking them. However, the Station Casinos smart phone app, which became available this month for Android and iPhone devices, is the newest example of technology’s increasing role in outreach efforts.
Easing access to movies is important at Station, which has multiple-screen theater complexes at a number of its 18 locations in the Las Vegas area.
The Station press release that heralded the application’s arrival stressed the “simplicity and convenience” it offers Boarding Pass holders who want the latest information about their accounts – point totals, reward offers, etc., all of this being information that could only be accessed previously at the property kiosks.
The new app automatically geo-locates the phone user to the closest Station Casinos location and gives the distance to other Station casinos, also offering access to a variety of news and info about other happenings in the Las Vegas area.
Where does Station go with the marketing possibilities it puts within reach for the mostly locals who comprise the bulk of its customer base?
“We’ve only scratched the surface,” says spokesman Abe Hong. He concedes the app appears to offer a lot of still-to-come opportunities for responding to spending preferences.
The shape of the future will be seen as analysts at Station and other companies study customer reactions to this new era of user friendly convenience, but there are no current plans for connecting it to the company’s Sports Connection and Internet gaming programs.
Of course it could all change as the evolutionary process continues.
The Adelson effect: Sheldon Adelson, The Las Vegas Sands CEO, has no chance of bringing the Wire Act back to life as a revitalized barrier to the spread of Internet gambling, a menace the billionaire sees as pushing the opportunities for money laundering and other social ills to higher levels of concern.
But his willingness to fund the opposition campaign with millions from his own pocket is making a difference.
It has contributed to a slowdown in the pace of change. The introduction of legislation drafted by agents of the Adelson campaign is one of the reasons potential Nevada-based operators have decided to sit back and see what happens.
The fact that Internet gaming has not exactly exploded out of the starting gates also contributes to the slowdown as lobbyists and lawmakers lap up some of the big bucks Adelson is spending.
It’s all contributed to an air of uncertainty about what will happen and when it may occur. Uncertainty is always a good reason for big spenders to keep their money in their pockets.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham was probably delighted to discover Adelson’s prejudice lines up nicely with the opposition to gambling of South Carolina Baptists. The result: Adelson became a Senate sponsor of legislation that would have the effect of booting Internet gaming into oblivion.
As for the money laundering thing…What we have here is the price of doing business in a legal and regulated industry influenced by lawmakers and enforcement people in areas where gaming is not legal.
Federal fascination with the gambling business has been around since the Kefauver hearings more than a half-century ago. Investigating casinos and the people who run them looks a lot more interesting than probing the financial records of a chain of car washes or movie theaters.
The newspaper headlines and evening news coverage are also a lot better. I’m trying to imagine somebody taking a suitcase full of 20s into a local casino and asking to have the contents converted to 100s.
It just doesn’t happen, not any more it doesn’t. Yes, it’s true the history of the casino business has seen its share of, uh, creative cash management, just like business sectors everywhere. But the control and operation of casinos has been sanitized to the Nth degree since Wall Street’s biggest bankers and the SEC began looking over corporate shoulders years ago.
Keeping up with the required paperwork and related tape for state and federal officials has become a mind-numbing business.
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at PhilHevener@GamingToday.com.
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