Survey: Gaming reaching new heights

Sep 30, 2003 6:30 AM

Gentlemen may prefer blonds and diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but casino gamblers have a fondness for soft drinks, blackjack, quarter slots and a mighty fine buffet.

Oh, they also like a good stage show and prefer their cocktail waitress to be friendly and speedy rather than simply good-looking.

These are some of the findings of Harrah’s Annual Survey of the American Casino Gambler, released last week.

In addition to profiling the likes, dislikes, habits and tendencies of American casino patrons, the survey identifies the frequency of casino visits for various American venues, and chronicles the demographics and background of typical casino players.

"The Harrah’s survey provides a comprehensive overview of the American casino gambler and dispels a number of misconceptions that exist about our customers," said Gary Loveman, Harrah’s president and CEO. "At the same time, it reaffirms many of our core believes ”” that gaming enthusiasts are active, financially stable and civic-minded members of the community."

Loveman said the survey results reveal a casino patron who is upper middle class, most likely middle-aged, and well-educated with a white collar job.


”¡ The average household income of casino gamblers is $50,716, about 20 percent higher than the overall U.S. population’s income of $42,000.

”¡ More than a third of individuals with an income in excess of $95,000 gambled in a casino last year.

”¡ About 46 percent of casino players have a white-collar job.

”¡ The largest percentage of casino gamblers (30 percent) are in the 51-65 age group.

”¡ About 54 percent of gamblers are female; 46 percent are male.

As one would expect, the explosive growth of gambling in California has vaulted the Golden State to the top of the list of states that generate trips to casinos.

Overall, California generated 17 percent of the country’s casino trips, with other states — Illinois, Nevada, New York and Michigan — contributing to one-third of the total number of casino trips in the U.S. last year.

In addition, the most casino activity took place in the West (35 percent), with the Northeast not far behind at 29 percent of the country’s total.

In addition to revealing gamblers’ demographics, the survey goes "behind the numbers" with a lighthearted yet informative look at what casino guests actually experience and enjoy at casinos.

"We focus on the fun because that’s what we sell," Loveman said. "Giving millions of Americans an opportunity to enjoy themselves at our casinos on that long-awaited and well-earned vacation, or that special night out on the town, is what’s most rewarding about our business."

While "A Night in the Life of a Casino Gambler" section may not answer everything you always wanted to know about casino gamblers but were afraid to ask, it reveals some interesting preferences of casino customers.

For instance, buffets are by far the gamblers’ favorite place to eat, with steak houses coming in a distant second. Moreover, most people (54 percent) admit to making two trips through the buffet line, while 20 percent confess to three trips and 5 percent own up to more than three trips.

Asked what is their favorite beverage, 36 percent of gamblers said they preferred a soft drink or soda, while 35 percent opted for an alcoholic drink (cocktail, beer and wine).

Among the other findings reported in A Night in the Life of a Casino Gambler:

”¡ Most guests prefer gambling with their spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend (49 percent).

”¡ Taking in a show (28 percent) is the favorite non-gambling casino activity.

”¡ The most important dealer attribute is "friendly," according to 58 percent of respondents.

”¡ Most slot players (37 percent) prefer to "graze" from machine to machine, rather than find one machine and stick with it (22 percent).

”¡ The majority of female casino patrons (81 percent) prefer slot machines, while 67 percent of men say they play the slots.

”¡ Only 22 percent of players say they’ve won a jackpot of $1,000 or more, while 56 percent say their largest jackpot is less than $500.

Overall, the survey revealed that 50 million American adults made nearly 300 million trips to casinos in the U.S. last year.

On average, gamblers visited a casino about once every two months.

The findings are based on three nationwide studies — The Roper Reports, the U.S. Gaming Panel and the NFO World Group — which surveyed more than 16,000 casino players in the United States.

"We hope this year’s Harrah’s survey provides new insights into the casino industry and into the customers we serve," Loveman said.



A night in the casino

1. Favorite place to eat: buffet (57%) with steak houses a distant second (16%)

2. Favorite non-gambling activity: show/entertainment (28%) nearly equal with fine dining (27%)

3. Favorite slot symbol: cherries (37%), 7’s (32%)

4. Biggest jackpot ever won: Less than $500 (56%), $501-$1,000 (23%), $1,001-$5,000 (18%), more than $5,000 (4%)

5. Favorite roulette bet: ”˜Lucky’ numbers (60%), red or black (24%), even or odd (18%)

6. Who accompanies you to the casino? Spouse/partner (49%), friends (22%), family (16%), tour (5%)

7. Cocktail waitress’ best attribute: friendly attitude (45%), speedy (39%), accurate (12%), beauty (3%)

8. Preferred casino drink: soft drink (36%), cocktail (22%), water (12%), beer (10%), coffee or tea (6%), none (10%).

9. Age of casino player: 51 years and older (57%), under 35 years (25%)

10. Gender of casino player: women (54%), men (46%)

11. Favorite casino game: slots and video poker (74%), table games (14%), other games (12%)

12. Slot denomination played: quarters and halves (62%), nickels (23%), dollars (12%), pennies (1.5%), $5 or more (1.5%)

13. Favorite table game: blackjack (64%), craps (16%), roulette (14%), other (6%)

14. Who is the best dice roller? Myself (59%), another player (41%)

15. Wake-up time at the casino: between 7-8 a.m. (50%), 6 a.m. (11%), 9 a.m. (17%), prefer to sleep in (19%), never go to bed (4%)