Casino trends

May 23, 2005 3:30 AM

Gentlemen may prefer blonds and diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but casino gamblers have a fondness for soft drinks, blackjack, quarter slots and a mighty fine buffet.

Oh, they also like a good stage show and prefer that their cocktail server be friendly and speedy rather than simply good-looking.

These are some of the findings of the recently-released Harrah’s Annual Survey of the American Casino Gambler.

In addition to profiling the likes, dislikes, habits and tendencies of American casino patrons, the survey identifies the frequency of casino visits for various American venues, and tracks the demographics and background of typical casino players.

"The Harrah’s survey provides a comprehensive overview of the American casino gambler and dispels a number of misconceptions that exist about our customers," said Gary Loveman, Harrah’s president and CEO. "At the same time, it reaffirms many of our core believes — that gaming enthusiasts are active, financially stable and civic-minded members of the community."

Loveman added that the survey results reveal a casino patron who is financially stable, most likely middle-aged, and well-educated with a white collar job.

As one would expect, the explosive growth of gambling in California has vaulted the Golden State to the top of the list of states that generate trips to casinos.

Overall, California generated 17 percent of the country’s casino trips, with other states — Illinois, Nevada, New York and Michigan — contributing to one-third of the total number of casino trips in the U.S. last year.

Besides revealing gamblers’ demographics, the survey goes "behind the numbers" with a look at what casino guests actually experience and enjoy at casinos.

"We focus on the fun because that’s what we sell," Loveman said. "Giving millions of Americans an opportunity to enjoy themselves at our casinos on that long-awaited and well-earned vacation, or that special night out on the town, is what’s most rewarding about our business."

For instance, buffets are by far the gamblers’ favorite place to eat, with steakhouses coming in a distant second. Moreover, most people (54 percent) admit to making two trips through the buffet line, while 20 percent confess to three trips and 5 percent owning up to more than three trips.

Asked what is their favorite beverage, 36 percent of gamblers said they preferred a soft drink or soda, while 35 percent opted for an alcoholic drink (cocktail, beer and wine).

Among the other findings:

”¡ Most guests prefer gambling with their spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend (49 percent).

”¡ Taking in a show (28 percent) is the favorite non-gambling casino activity.

”¡ The most important dealer attribute is "friendly," according to 58 percent of respondents.

”¡ Most slot players (37 percent) prefer to "graze" from machine to machine, rather than hunker down on one machine (22 percent).

”¡ The majority of female casino patrons (81 percent) prefer slot machines, while 67 percent of men say they play the slots.