The 14th annual Casino Marketing & Technology Conference, held last July at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, again served as an occasion to recognize leaders in our industry whose example offers a way forward for any casino operator wrestling with the everyday challenge of attracting and retaining customers.

Three awards were given at the conference. First, The Casino Marketing & Technology Lifetime Achievement Award went to Janie Dillard, executive officer of operations, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Division of Commerce, whose personal story of leadership and achievement served as an inspiration for all of the event’s attendees. Dillard is a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and has served it since 1982, when she began her career as a secretary for Community Health. In 1987, she transferred to the newly opened Choctaw Bingo Palace as a floor manager, marking the start of an illustrious gaming career. Throughout the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the Choctaw Nation, which presently operates eight casinos and 11 Casino Too! travel plazas, expanded gaming operations throughout its boundaries in southeastern Oklahoma, with Dillard heading expansion efforts as director of gaming. In 2001, Dillard was named executive director of gaming, a position she held for 14 years, before assuming her current role.

Dillard has also served as an officer for the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association for the last 18 years, and received the 2010 OIGA Warriors Award for her lifetime achievement as a champion in the cause of Oklahoma Indian gaming.

On the supplier side of the awards equation, Aristocrat Technologies was the top attendee vote getter at Casino Journal’s inaugural GameChangers Marketing Awards. The contest recognizes innovative marketing-oriented products and services for their real-world impact. Participants were asked to submit their entries in a case-study format that showcased the results they have generated for a specific property or operator.

Aristocrat’s Oasis Loyalty won the platinum award for delivering a single-card solution to all of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s 21 properties. Everi won gold for the performance of Tournevent 4.3 at Cache Creek Casino Resort. Aristocrat also won the silver award for Actual vs. Theoretical Bonusing (AVT), which Sycuan Casino has successfully used to keep its most loyal customers returning to its property.

Last, and certainly not least, were the Romero Awards. Named after casino marketing pioneer and author John Romero, the Romero Awards honor those gaming operators who best fulfill the spirit of Romero’s more than 45-year crusade for effective, measurable and accountable casino marketing expenditures.

The judges this year were especially impressed with the level of creativity shown in the digital marketing space. “The most impressive thing to me:  I cannot believe how much more amazing social media promos have become... actual measurement tied to floor revenue,” wrote Amy Fanter, marketing writer at Odds-On Promotions and a contest judge. “I truly see the mind of John [Romero] and the foresight of Dennis [Conrad] in how these awards will continue to elevate the industry.”

A complete list of the winners follows:


Casino Floor Promotion- Large Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • $250K BIRTHDAY BASH CELEBRATION, Wind Creek Montgomery Casino & Hotel, Montgomery, Ala.

Gold Romero Award

  • 7 LUCKY YEARS, FireKeepers Casino Hotel, Battle Creek, Mich.
  • QUEEN OF HEARTS DRAWINGS, Rivers Casino, Des Plaines, Ill.
  • PITTSBURGH PENGUINS GOLDEN TICKET, Rivers Casino, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • TAKE ON TREJO, Soboba Casino, San Jacinto, Calif.
  • YO AMO LOTERIA, Soboba Casino, San Jacinto, Calif.
  • OPERATION CASH, Wind Creek Montgomery Casino & Hotel, Montgomery, Ala.
  • TAG TEAM THE MACHINE, Wind Creek Montgomery Casino & Hotel, Montgomery, Ala.
  • YOU BET YOUR BASS, Grand Casino Mille Lacs, Onamia, Minn.

Silver Romero Award

  • THE GREAT OUTDOORS, Black Oak Casino Resort, Tuolumne, Calif.
  • LET IT SNOW, Grand Casino Hinckley, Hinckley, Minn.
  • HELLCAT AND HOTROD CHALLENGER GIVEAWAY, Grand Casino Hinckley, Hinckley, Minn.
  • BATH PLANET GIVEAWAY, Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Hot Springs, Ark.
  • $200,000 JEEPS AND CASH GIVEAWAY, Route 66 Casino Hotel, Albuquerque, N.M.

Casino Floor Promotion- Small/Mid-size Casino

Gold Romero Award

  • CALL YOUR SHOT FOR A MILLION BUCKS, Batavia Downs Gaming, Batavia, N.Y.

Silver Romero Award

  • BLACK JACK JOKER, Casino Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
  • GOLD EAGLE CASINO SUMMER CARNIVAL, Gold Eagle Casino, North Battleford, Sask., Canada

Community Relations- Large Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • THE FIRE HUB, FireKeepers Casino Hotel, Battle Creek, Mich.
  • 2016 BASSMASTER ANGLER OF THE YEAR TOURNAMENT, Grand Casino Mille Lacs, Onamia, Minn.
  • LADY LUCK, Isle of Capri, Pompano Beach, Fla.

Gold Romero Award

  • REAL MEN WEAR PINK, Wind Creek Montgomery Casino & Hotel, Montgomery, Ala.

Silver Romero Award

  • MAKE A CHANGE, Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Montgomery, Montgomery, Ala.
  • POOSA JAM ’16 BENEFIT CONCERT, Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Montgomery, Montgomery, Ala.

Direct Mail Marketing- Large Casino

Gold Romero Award

  • INACTIVE “REACTIVATION” CAMPAIGN, Gila River Gaming, Chandler, Ariz.
  • GIRL SCOUT COOKIE UP YOUR SLEEVE, Grand Casino Hinckley, Hinckley, Minn.

Silver Romero Award

  • PEARSON’S HALLOWEEN TRICK OR TREAT, Grand Casino Hinckley, Hinckley, Minn.
  • SUPER SCRATCH-OFF, Prairie Band Casino & Resort, Mayetta, Kan.
  • WIND CREEK REWARDS: THE MAGAZINE, Wind Creek Hospitality, Atmore, Ala.

Direct Mail Marketing- Small/Mid-size Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • IHR SCAN ZUM GLUCK/SCAN TO WIN, Casino Baden, Baden, Austria

Gold Romero Award

  • UNLOCK THE VICTORY VAULT 5TH ANNIVERSARY CRUISE, Victory Casino Cruises, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Silver Romero Award

  • NEW YEAR’S EVE CASH, Lake of the Torches Resort Casino, Lac du Flambeau, Wisc.

Electronic Marketing (e-Mail and Mobile)- Large Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • PROHOST MODULE FOR TRAFFICGEN, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.

Gold Romero Award

  • PLAY FOR FUN, Black Oak Casino Resort, Tuolumne, Calif.
  • DAVE AND DAMIEN PICKS, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.
  • CUSTOM MY OFFERS MOBILE APP, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.

Silver Romero Award

  • THE GREEKTOWN MOBILE APP, Greektown Casino Hotel, Detroit, Mich.
  • METEOR MAYHEM! Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Hot Springs, Ark.
  • MY RUSH REWARDS, Rivers Casino, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Electronic Marketing (e-Mail and Mobile)- Small/Mid-size Casino

Silver Romero Award

  • JANUARY HOTEL E-BLAST, Lake of the Torches Resort Casino, Lac du Flambeau, Wisc.
  • BONUS FREE PLAY E-BLAST, Lake of the Torches Resort Casino, Lac du Flambeau, Wisc.

Online Marketing (Website and Social Media)- Large Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • BRAINS VS. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: UPPING THE ANTE, Rivers Casino, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • SNOW ME THE MONEY, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Washington, Pa.
  • WIND CREEK HOSPITALITY PLAYERS OF WIND CREEK 2017, Wind Creek Hospitality, Atmore, Ala.

Silver Romero Award

  • BIG GAME, Black Oak Casino Resort, Tuolumne, Calif.
  • KISS SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.
  • POKEMON GO SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.
  • BUST THE BANKER SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION, FireKeepers Casino Hotel, Battle Creek, Mich.

Online Marketing (Website and Social Media) Small/Mid-size Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • PRIDE OF THE NORTH WEST AMATEUR TALENT COMPETITION, Gold Eagle Casino, North Battleford, Sask., Canada

VIP Promotion- Large Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • WCC TOURNAMENT PLAY UP PROMOTION, Northern Quest Resort and Casino, Airway Heights, Wash.

Gold Romero Award

  • INDIGENY FOCUS GROUP, Black Oak Casino Resort, Tuolumne, Calif.
  • PLAYER DEVELOPMENT U OF A WILDCATS FANTASY CAMP, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.
  • INTERNATIONAL BACON DAY DINNER, Grand Casinos Mille Lacs and Hinckley, Minn.
  • VIP GREAT CAMPOUT EVENT, Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Hot Springs, Ark.
  • HOST BATTLE VIP EVENT, Wind Creek Montgomery Casino & Hotel, Montgomery, Ala.

Silver Romero Award

  • PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AFFILIATION PROGRAM, Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.
  • SUPER WEEKEND, Prairie Band Casino & Resort, Mayetta, Kan.
  • TREASURE WEEK, Prairie Band Casino & Resort, Mayetta, Kan.
  • LIGHTNING LOUNGE GRAND OPENING EVENT, Soboba Casino, San Jacinto, Calif.

VIP Promotion- Small/Mid-size Casino

Diamond Romero Award

  • CARIBBEAN CRUISE PROMOTION—SHORT TIME SALES INCENTIVE, Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Hinckley, Minn.

Gold Romero Award

  • VIP GALAXIES OF CASH, Lake of the Torches Resort Casino, Lac du Flambeau, Wisc.