In today’s increasingly complex gaming marketplace, casino resorts are constantly on the lookout for products and services that will set them apart in the eyes of the consumer. Turning Stone Resort Casino, a Verona, N.Y.-based four-season resort owned and operated by the Oneida Indian Nation, has tapped its state-of-the-art poker room to accomplish this task.
A frequent host of CBS Sports’ “Poker Night in America,” Turning Stone is attracting celebrities and major players to its 37-table poker room, which is equipped with 12 big screen televisions, table-side food service and a knowledgeable and friendly staff. Among the noteworthy recently pulling up a chair at the facility were Phil Hellmuth, a 13-time winner on the World Series of Poker tour, former major league baseball player Jose Conseco, Academy Award nominee Jennifer Tilly and movie critic Richard Roeper.
But the influx of celebrities and professional players isn’t the only thing attracting customers and bringing them back for more. With a $250,000 jackpot on the line, growing by about a $1,000 each day, the poker room at Turning Stone—which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—is a haven for local college and amateur players, drawn not only to the large jackpot but to the low buy-ins and $20 minimum bet tables. The poker room also offers a can-hit-any-second bad beat jackpot, which is awarded to the player with a hand that typically should have won, but lost to an unlikely stronger hand. Turning Stone encourages players to bring their house games to the resort so they can take advantage of the bad beat option.
Catering to customers and a variety of promotions that keep things interesting has led to the casino’s success. “Anytime you look at a customer service industry I think the best measure of success is the feedback you get from your players and how often they come back,” said Jason Dibenedetto, director of poker for the casino. “For us it’s having good rapport with players, listening to what they want, listening to what they’re requesting and what they need, and trying to deliver that to them. To me that’s what makes a successful room.”
Players aren’t just sticking to the poker room either. “We have a bit of a mix,” Dibenedetto said. “There’s players that will come in here and may be waiting for a seat to open, so they will wander on out to the floor. Some of them prefer to play the table games, some may be craps players, they may be a blackjack player, and others will venture out and play the slot machines. So we definitely do have a cross over.”