Slot clubbers in rift with Casa Blanca

Aug 29, 2005 2:07 AM

How many times have I said those colorful plastic "rewards" cards are merely issued by slot clubs to rope players, reel them in and keep them coming back for more?

Nevertheless, if a club is going to issue these cards to their customers, then it’s a very good idea to treat the players right. That doesn’t always happen, though.

Sometimes, the issue is a bit more disturbing than the simple loss of a few points here or there. I have in my hands a copy of a letter that went out to slot players at the Casa Blanca Hotel-Casino in Mesquite, on July 7, 2005. In it, General Manager George Rapson tells customers, "CasaBlanca encountered a computer error in which slot club points were incorrectly multiplied and added to many accounts, including yours, earlier this year."

All right, but now what?

The letter goes on to say that, after the investigation that led to the discovery, Rapson had decided to make "adjustments" to correct the error.

But his decision is to remove "only" 65% of the phantom points, while leaving the remaining 35% as some sort of a bonus.

The letter proceeds to say how much the casino appreciates its customers, reminds the players of all the other benefits they receive, and how it hopes the players understand.

The whole thing reminded me of Marketing 101: Tell your client the negative issues first and then pour on the honey later, hoping they’ll forgive and forget what they read first.

Well, some Casa Blanca customers didn’t do that. Many have voiced their displeasure with Casa Blanca, and one in particular came to me with his story. As I dug deeper into the facts it has become more and more interesting. In fact, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has become involved, and I’ve learned that the agent in charge of the investigation has uncovered a list of 1,300 players who were affected by this. That’s a lot of points.

When I first saw this the first thing that came into my mind was the question "Why is this guy angry?

If he received 35% extra points, then he should be happy. But, apparently, not everyone received extra points.

I was told a fairly large number of players now have negative accounts, and were by casino personnel that they have to play just to get the account back to zero.

My calls to Rapson went unanswered and unreturned, and when I finally got his assistant I was given a terse "no comment."

That’s it? That’s hardly the response I’d give if I knew even a few my customers were not happy. It isn’t difficult to understand how computer problems can mess up just about anything these days, and maybe Casa Blanca actually did experience what they say happened.

In the real world, however, there are real players out there who are confused, feeling slighted, and ready to take their business somewhere south of Mesquite.

In a situation like this one, the ONLY way to treat customers would be to inform them of the facts in time-line detail, so they can see for themselves exactly what happened and when. The letters that went out seemed a bit impersonal at best. A correction with a more complete explanation would seem appropriate.