Casino loyalty programs put on hold

Each passing day in quarantine from the coronavirus presents new inundating information, packaged as “breaking news.” From debates regarding mask recommendations one day, to new “curve flattening” projections the next. With so much fluidity in uncertain times, keeping up with the latest updates can be a challenge.

With casinos at a standstill, gamblers find themselves in a lurch. Millions across the country are enrolled in player loyalty programs. Their membership cards are a conduit to free meals, hotel stays, shows, tickets to sporting events and gifts such as beer, wine or liquor, clothing items, and everything from glassware to barbecue tools.

During the holidays, special gifts are made available, from pumpkin and apple pies for Thanksgiving, to ornaments and other related items for Christmas.

The process is simple: you obtain a player’s card, insert it in your favorite machine, begin to gamble and you accumulate points. The more you play, the more points you get and the higher level of membership is obtained.

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In addition, some casinos offer points to those who gamble at the tables and in the race and sports-books. Programs differ from casino to ­casino. But the concept is the same. The more points, the more perks.

But with everything on pause, what happens to your ability to reach higher tiers? Or your ability to remain at your current level? What about the promotions tied to your program?

Nobody knows when the casinos will reopen. But most have made contingency plans for their play programs once the green light is given and the lights come on. Here is a look at several Las Vegas casinos’ plans for their player programs when that day eventually comes:

South Point prefers to keep things simple while keeping its customers in mind. When Governor Steve Sisolak issued the ­closure of casinos in March, South Point guests missed out on using their monthly mailers.

According to South Point general manager Ryan Growney, no one will lose anything.

“We just hit a timeout,” said Growney. “We will honor that mailer whenever the time comes for us to open back up.”

Unlike most casinos, the South Point does not use a multi-tiered system or use tier points. The casino sticks to one Player’s card. The slot points on that card don’t expire.

In terms of the next offer presented for guests, Growney said, “Much of what we do will depend on the time of month we get back up and running.”

Boyd Gaming will offer “BConnected” players the same opportunities they had, before the coronavirus outbreak.

David Strow, vice president of corporate communications for Boyd, said the company’s focus is to make sure everyone takes care of themselves and stay safe. In return, it looks like they’ll handle the rest.

When speaking about tier credits, Strow said: “We’ll award tier credits to players to keep them on track for what they would’ve earned, to stay on track for whatever tier status.”

So, if someone is at “Onyx” status, tier credits will be awarded to keep them on track for “Titanium” status (the status following Onyx).

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“Nobody gets penalized since we’re closed,” Strow said. “Points will not expire while we’re closed.”

However, previous offers from Boyd Gaming set to expire, will expire. In terms of what will be done about that, Strow said: “If a player has an offer from us that expires, we’ll re-issue an offer. It might be a different offer, but they will make a new offer.”

Station Casinos Chief Operating Officer Bob Finch, released a statement on the company’s blog regarding the “Boarding Pass” loyalty program saying, “We will be pausing the expiration of all Boarding Pass points that expired, or are scheduled to expire, between March 17 and December 31, 2020. In addition, their card tier status as of March 17 will also remain unchanged through December 31, 2020.”

In terms of offers, the company put out a post on its blog saying, “Any offers or invitations that have expired will not be reloaded. However, new offers and invitations will be available based on your casino play prior to the temporary closure and sent out once we resume business.”

Station has one of the largest memberships in town and offers popular monthly promotions. It has also teamed up with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights to offer its Boarding Pass members unique items, including apparel, glassware and wine.

Westgate Las Vegas released a message suggesting “WOW Rewards Tier” and “WOW Reward Points” are not impacted from the state’s mandated closure. Accounts with time missed in the tier credit qualifying period receive bonus tier credits based on your play within the last 12 months.

These credits are to be applied when Westgate reopens. WOW Reward Points will not expire due to inactivity during the closure.

Golden “True Rewards” members worried about tier status and tier qualifying period, should have nothing to worry about. According to a statement from Golden Entertainment, accounts will automatically move into the highest tier you’ve achieved, since the program’s launch in 2019. This kicks in on your next visit through the next tier status earning period.

For locals the next earning period runs July through the end of the year. Points expiration due to inactivity is put on halt here as well.

This is good news for players. They will not be penalized for the pause in gaming throughout the state, and the country for that matter, as some Las Vegas-based companies have their programs in properties in other states along with Nevada.

Whenever operations get a chance to run again is a question mark at this point. Despite the uncertainty, the South Point’s Growney said: “Whether it’s the beginning, middle or end of a month, we’ll be in a position to take care of our guests.”

About the Author

Sebastian Ross

Sebastian Ross covers casino promotions and the Las Vegas gaming industry scene for Gaming Today. The Las Vegas native currently attends the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.

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