A local casino’s success story

December 24, 2001 1:03 AM


No, we’re not going to be talking about any one person’s good fortune today ”” but rather about one Las Vegas casino’s rapid rise to stardom through its very impressive inventory of video poker games ”” along with what has proven to be a very slick marketing program. It’s been as successful a combination as I’ve seen in an era where many of the new casino/resorts have had trouble finding just the right recipe that will keep them profiting from the overall entertainment they offer the American public. And it should serve as a lesson to any future entries into this very competitive market.

When I look at what the Suncoast property in Summerlin has accomplished in a relatively short time, at first it seems contradictory. Just look next door at the spectacularly luxurious Resort at Summerlin”¦Regent”¦Marriott, and one has to ponder just why all the players pass right by it on their way to the Suncoast. But to anyone in the gaming business, the reason is as elementary as deciding whether or not to hit on two dealt face cards in BlackJack ”” one property focused on business visitors while the other put 110 percent of its effort into making sure the locals would feel more comfortable there than anywhere else.

But just how has the Suncoast accomplished their rapid success? Video poker games ”” and plenty of them. In a city that has seen extensive pay table cutbacks as a method of belt-tightening in the last 18 months, this aggressive casino offers the largest inventory of what players call “positive expectation” games to be found anywhere in the state ”” and in denominations all the way up through the $2 level. Not only do these games have a theoretical payout of over 100 percent, those who use the Club Denaro slot card also receive .25 percent cash back figured on a coin-out basis. Players naturally figure since they should win more in this casino, they will therefore be rewarded with even more cash back. Then combine all that with the many multiple-points promotion days along with intermittent other player promos, and you have what appears to be the most attractive deal in town. But not so fast”¦

I think you can see the pretty picture that was painted at this very attractive resort. Casino management knew the famous names in video poker would immediately jump on this story, writing article after article praising the Suncoast for their offering up the best selection of “advantage” games in the city. And what happened next? Yes, readers, believing there could be no way to lose over the theoretical “long-term,” flocked to the machines, and continue to do so on a regular basis. Anyone who either read about the percentages or could add up the numbers to over 100 percent payback certainly would play nowhere else. It was an overall ingenious plan, and Suncoast management should be highly commended for their insight.

Now maybe you see the strategy. Because players want to believe what they read, they have become very loyal, returning customers. The casino gets a tremendous amount of play, and because no one actually can beat a video poker computer with errorless play throughout infinity”” regardless of the theoretical payback percentages, the profits just keep rolling in. And the more promotions, the more those who have a difficult time staying away from the machines keep coming back. It defies common sense and logic, but they’ll keep on coming, always saying things like “the machines are advantage machines, I should win, so I’ll play until I drop ”” or lose it all.”

Have I played at the Suncoast? Absolutely. It’s one of my favorite places to play ”” but for quite a different set of reasons. First, with my short-term, goal-oriented play strategy, the coin-less system there is a perfect fit. The multi-denominational machines are an added plus. 10/7 Double Bonus poker is a game I always will play before DDB poker when available ”” and at this casino it’s readily available up to $2. But you’ll never, ever see me roped in to play on bonus point days, or on special promotion days ”” like the week in November when four 8’s paid double. Only losers chase such nonsense, and I understand more than one of the famous names were taken to the cleaners ”” and soon thereafter re-evaluated their compulsive tendencies. But while they lick their wounds, the Suncoast continues to shine, and if 2001 was any indication, 2002 will be a very bright year.