SCA brings high-stakes act to Nevada

Jul 6, 2004 6:41 AM

Casino promotions became an even bigger deal in Las Vegas last week when a Dallas-based company announced a veteran director of events on the Strip has been hired to open an office here to develop and oversee million-dollar contests.

SCA Promotions has hired Linda Gordon away from the Stardust where she had worked for almost 20 years, most recently as director of casino events. SCA, which at one time stood for Sports Contests Association but now just stands for SCA, makes the payoffs for casino-sponsored contests. The company can design a contest with a payoff for virtually any size casino and SCA writes the check for virtually all of the top prizes.

Speaking by speakerphone, Bob Brian, SCA’s vice president of gaming, said his company has worked with over 140 casinos around the world. "I don’t think anybody else comes close" to having the same number of clients, he said.

Gordon, who worked with Brian when she was in marketing for the Stardust, opened the office at 340 East Warm Springs Road in mid-March. Brian said he commutes about twice a month from Dallas to sell casinos on the idea that SCA is willing to absorb the loss of the bigger contests and promotions while Gordon’s role is to make sure the promotion generates the kind of excitement about gambling the casino is seeking.

Promotions can run the gamut from sports contests to million dollar keno jackpots. Brian said "the promotion has to be right for the consumer, (it should be) something that elevates the heart rate (and) gives everybody a fun experience."

He said many of the promotions are similar in format to the television show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Which would make Brian a gaming version of John Beresford Tipton who, in the 1960s, gave away a tax-free check for a million dollars on TV.

Promotions have to pique players interest, Brian said, building suspense in stages with ever increasing amounts of money to be won after increasingly difficult challenges.

He said the promotion underwriting business operates on basically the same principle as the insurance industry, where the math favors the company over the long run. He said some of the backers of SCA include A-rated insurance companies such as Lloyd’s of London and Swiss Reinsurance along with some private individuals who he would not identify.

In a company press release, SCA says its clients have included Boyd Gaming, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Harrah’s, IGT, Mandalay Resort Group, MGM Mirage, Park Place Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment), Pechanga Resort and Casino, Station Casinos and Trump Casino. The release adds the company has paid out more than $113 million in cash and prizes in lottery and casino jackpots, scratch-and-win games, radio and television contests, and direct mail, Internet and sports promotions.

In Las Vegas, the company has paid $1,000,000 prizes four times: in August 1999 at the Pioneer Hotel; in June 2000 at the Hilton; in June 2001 at the Fremont; and in March 2003 at Harrah’s.

Brian said his company’s focus is on keeping a casino’s patrons satisfied with the promotion experience. And if somebody wins the grand prize, he said, "It’s a bad day at the office for me."