Casinos making it hard
on high rollers!

Mar 25, 2003 5:57 AM

PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH! The gent at the other end of the telephone was upset.

"Listen," he said.

"I called you and no one else because I know you’re a player and can understand the meaning of what I am going to tell you."

I listened. He continued:

"I have large, large lines of credit all over town. I play strong and seldom look for anything in return except a nice suite, a ride to the airport and sometimes a dinner in the gourmet room.

"I almost always put at least $150,000 in play every trip. I’m not a winner but I’m not a big loser either. However, I do pay my markers on departure without exception."

He went on:

"I was in your midst over the holidays. I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in years.

"Over coffee in the coffee shop, the friend told me of the end of her long term marriage. She decided to come to Vegas to visit local friends.

"I asked if she had dinner plans. She did. But, there was a show she wanted to see and would I be interested in going along with her?

"I’m not a showgoer but I wanted to please my friend.

"The show was at the hotel where I was staying. The start time was perfect for her to enjoy her dinner and meet me outside the showroom 30 minutes early.

"After she left, I spent the rest of the day in typical fashion. I played and played and played.

"About 6 o’clock I went to my room, took a nap, showered, dressed and returned to the casino about 9 o’clock.

"I spotted a host who knows me well. I requested tickets for two in the showroom.

"He then said something very strange.

" ”˜Let me check!’

"I was slightly baffled but paid little attention to not getting an automatic OK.

"I continued betting white chips ($500) and couldn’t win a hand. That miffed me a little but nothing like what I was in for when the host returned.

" ”˜I can’t believe it, but in all the years I’ve worked here I have always been able to get a good player into a show. You know, it’s not like the old days. We let Ticketron handle the seats. The casino holds out a few tickets for players like yourself but they are all gone. Sorry,’" he winced.

"Listen, forget comps, buy me two good seats and put it on my hotel room." I urged.

" ”˜Sorry,’ he explained. ”˜There are no tickets. Everything is gone. Sorry, I really am sorry.’

"I met my friend at the appointed time. Embarrassingly I explained the incident. She understood. We then went on a tour of the town. She had never been to the newer casinos, so I gave her the grand tour.

"At one casino, I went through about $26,000 in 30 minutes.

"The next day I checked out of the ”˜no-room-in-the-show’ hotel and left $48,000 in markers. It was a lot less than usual since I didn’t play the rest of the night before or at all the next day.

"I’ll make good on my markers . . . in about 90 days and the hotel has seen the last of me. If that’s how they treat high rollers, they don’t deserve to have any."

He ended his story.

Before I could respond with a series of questions. He was off the line.

I won’t print the name of the hotel. Phone calls can sometimes be flakey. But, I will say this, the fellow sure sounded sincere.

What do you think?

No one has a right to count another guy’s cash register. I have no idea what is taking place in casinos these days. There was a time when a host would get the maitre d’ to set up a table on the stage to accommodate a heavy hitter.

Nowadays, it takes a written request or even a letter of credit to get a simple comp. It often seems like the greased palm has gone dry.

Things change . . . and then change back. Just wait. Someone, someday will find a "new" niche in an old wrinkle. I hope the high rollers are still rolling!