Maybe it results from the recent surge of interest in live poker, brought on by the popularity of tournaments being televised on cable, but casinos are experiencing an unexpected increase in interest in table games.
Especially by the 25 to 35 age group known as "Generation X."
But whatever the cause, casino executives have found themselves suddenly searching for ways to guide the "Xers" who are bellying up to their tables at such places as the Hard Rock, Palms and Mandalay Bay casinos.
So, it was not unexpected that the phone began ringing at the headquarters of Gaming International Inc. of Lake Tahoe, Nev., with cries for help.
It was no surprise to Ted Gottlieb, founder of Gaming International, the company that created WIN CARDS, the reference system that has guided neophyte table game players for the past 18 years.
"The cards simply take away the novice player’s fear of doing something wrong as he or she learns whatever game has attracted his interest," Gottlieb explains.
"Recently, Pam Butler who is our director of marketing for Gaming International, told of a report she received from a casino executive at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. Seems a young fellow was puzzled about how to approach a game until he was offered the instructional WIN CARDS.
"He was quoted as saying, ”˜If it were not for the instructional cards and the special chips, I probably never would have learned to play craps.’"
The story from Harrah’s is a common one, says Chuck Taylor, casino manager at the Edgewater Hotel/Casino in Laughlin. He installed the program at his facility early on and has been a supporter for many years.
"I like it a lot," he said. " It costs us nothing to operate, it increases our casino revenues and it has proven to be very popular with new players. We have determined by tracking through our players club that this promotion is very beneficial."
The WIN CARDS program, Gottlieb explained, "was designed for incorporation into an existing casino marketing effort or games instruction agenda. It can also stand alone, working as an enticement capable of introducing new players to the live action.
"Either way, it works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to put people on the tables," he added.
Gaming International’s program involves tri-packs of WIN CARDS containing credit card size cards for blackjack, craps and roulette. The packs cost $10. The program also offers customers $15 in special, non-negotiable chips and a $1 "dealer’s tip coupon."
Very experienced with the WIN CARDS is Bart Pestrichello, vice president of casino operations at the Hard Rock. He advises, "It’s the best method available in the gaming industry to put new players on the live games. This program absolutely does what it is supposed to do."
His sentiments have been echoed by Doyle Andrews casino manager at the Silver Legacy in Reno; Ben Speidel, general manager of the Slots-A-Fun Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, and Kevin Beaton, marketing director at the Silver Club in Sparks, Nev.
Mike Couevas, casino manager at the Excalibur Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, is adamant about the long-term success of the program, while Diane Arthur, casino manager at the Golden Phoenix Hotel/Casino in Reno, believes that "the program really helps us with cross-marketing, as a number of our slot players have told us."
Her boss, general manager Chris Scott, may have summed it up best when he said, "I think that every casino that offers table games and is interested in the future of these games should have a WIN CARDS program to assist in attracting and developing new players."
Newly designed, customized WIN CARDS for the Avi Resort/Casino in Laughlin, will be featured in the "New Products Showcase" at the Global Gaming Expo this week while the WIN CARDS will be on exhibit at booth number 385.