Disney World trumps my gambling

Feb 10, 2009 5:07 PM
Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome |

It’s not easy going back to work after being on vacation for over two weeks.

I love my work, really. I love analyzing games and writing my articles for GamingToday, but it felt good to finally get away. This was our first real vacation in at least two to three years. And we didn’t go to any casinos while away.

I’ve posted many times in my column that I’m not a professional gambler and I really don’t go all that often. It just wouldn’t seem like really getting away unless I left everything about gambling behind. So, we went to the other Disney World (many times, Las Vegas seems like a ‘Disney World’ for adults!).

The package we booked came with a free $200 Disney gift card good for most anything in the parks and/or hotel. I told them to keep it. After all, it must just be some sort of gimmick to get you to buy things right? Just kidding.

Why would I say ‘no’ to free money? Why do so many players do the same thing when in the casino? If I had truly turned down a $200 gift card (no strings attached other than it had to be spent at a Disney park/hotel/store), you’d think I was nuts. Yet for some reason, when people get to Las Vegas they get suspicious.

Most casinos have some sort of ‘Slot Club.’ You get a card that you put into the machine before you play and it keeps track of how much you’ve gambled. You get a certain number of points for your play and then you can redeem these points for merchandise and/or cash.

I can’t believe how much I hear about people refusing to join these clubs. They either think they are gimmicks and that everything they do in the casino will be ‘tracked’ – ranging from which machines to how they play each hand to how fast they play.

While some of this is tracked and all of it could be tracked, I’m going to guess that for 99 percent of the people out there, and 99.9 reading this article, the casinos may have this information but don’t do a single thing with it.

There are days I think about creating systems for the casinos that would use this information to their advantage, but I’m pretty certain that at this point they are not interested. Having spent more than 20 years building computer systems, I know that most companies collect far more information than they actually use (or know what to do with!).

For all I know, Disney will use my $200 to market other things to me trying to figure out what items I want or need. Who cares? Do I need more junk mail? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m about to turn down $200 of free stuff.

Is it possible that the $200 was simply added to the cost of my package? Possible, yes! Was it done? No.

I priced out the same hotel without the package code and it was the same price as the one I booked with the card. In other words, I was a little suspicious, but not to the point of paranoia. I went in with my eyes open and did some research and found out that this was a good deal.

For some reason, Las Vegas (and casinos in general) makes people much more suspicious than other businesses. Maybe it’s because of all those movies where some guy gets beat up in a back alley for trying to cheat the casino. If Mickey Mouse were to slug a few people on screen maybe it would make people more suspicious of him too.

The key to all of this is to be smart. Slot clubs are another way that casinos allow a certain number of people to get a greater return than others. This doesn’t mean you should chase down every slot promotion – it doesn’t pay to try and collect 1,000 points in 24 hours to get an extra $20 if the casino only has short-pay machines.

It does mean that you should join most slot clubs and make sure your card is in the machine when you choose to play. Just in case they are tracking your every play, you may want to make sure your brush up on your Expert Strategy so they don’t laugh too hard in the control room when you hold that Ace kicker!