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‘Big brother’ focuses on casino players

Jun 3, 2003 7:03 AM

  Move over, bonusing.

As casinos depend more and more on new technology to reduce marketing costs and boost revenue, the hot tech trend for casinos is called "data warehousing."

And the use of information on slot players and gaming customers taken from these digital repositories is known as "business intelligence."

Data warehousing is elaborate software that lets casino operators view information on customer demographics, wagering habits, player points, comps and hotel stays. It also tracks holding percentages and the popularity of different brands of slots while allowing operators to "watch" where individual slot players are sitting ”” all in real time from a single computer.

The software takes information from a variety of databases ”” such as hotel stays from the front desk, the on-property restaurants customers eat in, their personal habits based on their slot card ”” and integrate it instantly.

From the casino office, casino managers can see where a customer is playing, view their play levels and immediately direct casino hosts to go over to them and offer them comps.

One company, Las Vegas-based Compudigm, offers a technology called seePOWER, which uses "heat map" graphics on a computer screen to show which slots or slots banks are getting the most, or least play, in real time or from days past.

"Over time, you can see what is happening on the slot floor," said Lydia Wohlwerth, senior sales manager for Compudigm, which has Harrah’s Entertainment and Hollywood Casinos as clients. "The redder the heat, the more activity you have, or your coin in."

Using the software, which draws data from the warehouse, a casino manager can tell how well a recent promotion went, or what kind of customer is playing on a certain day or specific time.

"You can measure the play down to the group," Wohlwerth said. "You can look for females 35 to 40 who come in on Sundays between 5 and 7 p.m. with a 30-mile drive time. You can measure the impact on your business depending on who you’ve marketed to. We have clients who have abandoned traditional marketing to this approach."

Casinos also can use the information to instruct slot machine manufacturers to how redesign their machines to increase revenue, she said.

Of all gaming companies, Harrah’s Entertainment is perhaps most wired into new technology. The firm spends from $60 million to $70 million on new technology and technology research a year.

Though its information technology (via a closed loop computer system), Harrah’s grabs information on patrons from its slot games, kiosks, call centers, hotel guest contacts and other company employees.

The information not only helps determine the comps people might get, it also aids the company in predicting how much revenue it could receive from its players.