Events enhance gaming

Mar 6, 2006 3:14 AM

Throughout history, there have been many great partnerships proving that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The glimmer twins, Mick and Keith and the default partnership (a la Reese’s) derived from having someone randomly dip his chocolate bar in an open jar of peanut butter is a solid case in point.

The forming of a consortium to promote the casino host city amongst the gaming companies in Black Hawk and Central City would be a strategically sound move. To promote visitation to these historic towns, cooperative special events can be held that benefit the entire jurisdiction.

As an example, Cripple Creek already provides a plethora of non-gaming fun. On Feb. 4, there was a Victorian Ball (a legacy celebration that pre-dates gaming) and on the morning of Feb. 17, the (in) famous eighth annual Gravity Races. Cripple Creek’s main street, Bennett Avenue, becomes a downhill racetrack for some very unique non-motorized vehicles (read: beds with jerry-rigged steering wheels).

Last year’s event hosted over 40 custom cars racing for over $2,500 in prize money. The racers not only have to go fast down a 7% grade, but they also have to be able to negotiate a slalom course. The combined fastest time wins. The proper name of the event is "Cabin Fever Daze Gravity Race," reflecting a chance for hibernators to get out of the toasty warm cocoon of their homes.

Events build an extra layer of excitement to an area in which the default raison d’etre is gaming, but also offer tremendous historic tourism opportunities. (Dressing up in Victorian regalia for a gala ball, no matter how uncomfortable authentic historical undergarments might be, is good wholesome fun). A consortium and the respective funds it is capable of contributing from its "war chest" can only make this type of special activity better.

To understand how the gaming jurisdictions of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek would benefit from partnering up for some mutually beneficial promotion, one needs to look no further than the border gaming town of Laughlin, Nevada.

To leverage the economy of scale, the various casinos contribute to citywide events. With the Chamber of Commerce serving as a node, each casino contributes to specific events such as the Laughlin River Run (motorcycles), Laughlin River Stampede Rodeo, and Rockets Over the River (Fourth of July fireworks).

Another example of market cooperation is with the Tunica gaming market. The Tunica Mississippi Convention and Visitors Bureau has done a fantastic job sending out visitors guides (about 125,000 a year) and maintaining a web-site that extols all the merits of the Tunica Market, including museums, eco-trails and historic riverboat voyages.

The key is for all of the properties to understand and agree upon a fixed contribution structure. One fair way of splitting the promotional cost among the casinos is using a proxy variable such as number of slot machines or gaming square footage.

For example, Jacob’s Entertainment has 1361 machines between the Gilpin and the Lodge or 12.7% of the slots in the market, while Golden Gaming with Golden Mardi Gras, Golden Gulch, and Golden Gates maintain 1150 machines or 10.8% of the market.

Just to demonstrate that another proxy measure would be fair, Jacob’s Entertainment possesses 13.1% of the market’s square footage, while Golden Gaming has 10.2%.

This proportional funding structure for town-wide booster proceedings could establish a foundation on which mutually beneficial programs could come to fruition. This system of sharing the responsibility to promote the respective renaissance mining towns would also lend itself to a mass advertising efforts, or better yet, direct marketing campaigns that portray the market as a synergistic whole.

Of course, direct marketing is not limited to the traditional sending of a piece of mail, there are also other means of contact such as phone calls, e-mail, and interactive web-sites.

The dissemination of information to a prospect may act as the deciding factor to convince an individual to make the visit. This type of direct contact is especially powerful when utilized during lag times to peek interest.

(David Paster serves as Strategic Database Manager with National Hirschfeld, LLC of Denver, Colo., a single-source printing, digital imaging and direct marketing company offering clients targeted solutions aimed at increasing profitability. He can be reached at [email protected])