There are a few things in the casino business that I don’t know much about (most notably technology), but the game of craps-and its operation-is not one of them.
I dealt or supervised craps for nearly 10 years early in my career. I have played the game for over 35 years in hundreds of casinos all over the world. I have witnessed countless different craps playing conditions, dice layouts, promotions and side bets. So I come to you with good and bad news regarding the game of craps in casinos today. First, the good news: There is a tremendous revenue generating opportunity with the game of craps. And the bad news: There are several significant challenges to overcome-operationally, structurally, culturally and marketing-wise-to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Here are those challenges as I see them:
THE GAME OF CRAPS IS TOO COMPLEXThe intricacy of craps is unlikely to change; indeed, it is part of the game’s appeal-do bettors and don’t bettors, place bettors and come bettors, even-money bettors and long-shot bettors… all playing at the same time.
But there are ways to make craps less intimidating.
• Craps dealers must be better trained at teaching and selling the game.
• The craps layout can be simplified and bets that are not normally listed (place, odds, etc.) can be printed and shown.
• The “craps tub” (a mini-version of craps that can be staffed by a single dealer) needs to make a resurgence and be utilized as an introduction to the game and as an instructional tool.
• Where appropriate, live craps lessons should be offered, but only if a full commitment is made to the program and an energetic, knowledgeable, relationship-building craps instructor is utilized.
THE GAME OF CRAPS IS USUALLY HELD HOSTAGE BY CRAPS DEALERS AND PLAYERSWhat I am referring to here are all of the occurrences at the dice table that contribute to revenue shortfall, game speed inefficiencies and guest dissatisfaction. Here are some solutions:
• Create a craps dealer certification process that trains dealers on how to move a game at the optimal speed, how to coach players to make their bets properly and in a timely fashion, how to instruct the game while it is in progress, and how to recruit new players into the game.
• Develop procedures that keep players from slowing down the game. Rules to consider include a time limit for shooting the dice; presetting the dice for dice-setting shooters; coaching players who try to make numerous bets per roll of the dice (string betting); instruction on when and where to make bets and so on.
• Rigorously enforce department rules regarding dealers and supervisors talking among themselves during a live craps game (cross firing), rather than with the players.
THE GAME OF CRAPS HAS LOST MUCH OF ITS FUNNothing is more exciting in a casino than a “hot” craps table where everyone is cheering. Unfortunately, much of that fun has been squeezed out of the game by overly-corporate gaming facilities.
Here are some steps properties can take to bring the entertainment edge back to craps:
• Establish dealing protocols that encourage dealers to root for players. Caesars Entertainment and other progressive table game operators already have such procedures in place.
• Similarly, eliminate all craps table rules that indicate the “house” is worried about how much individual players have “bought into” the game and how much they are winning or losing.
• Increase the payouts on some of the most usurious bets (10-25 percent house advantage) on the craps table and find ways to work random bonuses into the experience mix.
• Do fun things like giving awards to players with the longest rolls of the day; present the dice as a souvenir to dice shooters whose roll earned dice players a lot of money; ask players if they would like to break protocol and have a “hot shooter” shoot again or a “hot pair of dice” be used by the next shooter.
Many casinos are experimenting with new table games to drive revenue. That is a good thing. But for many of these properties there is a craps cash cow sitting right under their noses, just waiting to be milked. And it’s simple really, just turn craps into the fun and enticing game it once was, with people who really care about creating that experience.