Simplicity and communication spell casino success

Simplicity and communication spell casino success

February 12, 2013 3:01 AM


Gamblers hate change; they are creatures of habit. The original World Series of Poker is a perfect example. The Binions originally scheduled it in the spring after football season, so all the bookmakers were free to come out, and the California players, many of whom play the horses, could bet on the Kentucky Derby. I remember we would actually take breaks to bet on the Kentucky Derby. The series was built on tradition.

The modern gaming industry is over 100 years old. Thousands of things have been tried. The Binions created a 30-year tradition and in the process created the most successful poker tournament in the world. If any casino, whether online or brick-and-mortar, already has a successful marketing campaign, it is more profitable to allocate limited resources to improving the tried-and-true instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every time.

Evaluate what you already have. If a casino has a Winter Wonderland promotion, then it must be held at the same time every year. Consistency is the operative word. Another key element of any successful marketing campaign is timing. Every December the rodeo comes to Las Vegas, and if you like country music, it is a great time to visit. That’s a tradition. You must base your promotions on tradition. If you have consistency and tradition, even the public can explain your promotions. If you can build a tradition with gamblers, they will feel at home and even market your casino for you. That’s why your promotions have to be as simple as a, b, c. Casinos do not need 100 promotions; they just need 15-20 that work.

The importance of effective communication among all levels of casino staff cannot be overstated. Front-line personnel need to work closely with upper management. Everyone has to work together as a team for a promotion to be a success.

How many unproductive meetings have you had with your casino staff to discuss what promotions are coming up and what is going on now? How much of that information is actually relayed to your players? Communicating promotions at one casino I worked at became such a problem I made bets with senior management that the next level of staff had no idea what was going on. The senior managers thought just by printing marketing materials the promotion was understood and being communicated to the customers.

But simply telling staff about a promotion, and them actually understanding it and passing it on to the players, are two different things. A casino’s marketing campaign should be so simple even the porter can explain it.

Today many campaigns are simply too confusing. Players do not have time to read that much print; they came to play. When you have to use 200 words of text explaining your promotion, you have already lost your players. Even the best promotion is useless if it cannot be communicated simply.

Wouldn’t it help if your valet and front desk could explain your promotions to your visitors on arrival and not just your slot person only after they hit the gaming floor? The best promotion in the world is worthless if no one knows about it. Casino employees do not have to be presented with what’s new every week, but only with what works all the time.

Next week, Part 4 will cover evaluation of promotions.

Robert Turner, a legendary poker player and billiard marketing expert with over 30 years of experience in the gaming industry, is best known for inventing and creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and California in 1986. He also created Legends of Poker for Bicycle Casino and the National Championship of Poker for Hollywood Park Casino, both in 1995; World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker, in 2000, and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

Respected both at the tables and in gaming industry boardrooms Turner has spent 20 years in casino marketing and player development, served as executive host at Bicycle Casino and MGM, and has an exemplary record of taking financially distressed casino operations and improving their profitability. His innovations include player tracking, information centers, and introducing world-class entertainment and sporting events to Southern California casinos. He is an expert in both casino and online gaming marketing and player development.

Currently, he is working with his new companies Crown Digital Games, developing entertaining and engaging apps across all platforms, and Vision Poker, a poker marketing and managing group. Robert Turner can be reached at

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