John Grochowski’s syndicated casino column appears weekly in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Gary Post-Tribune, Press of Atlantic City, Casino City Times, and in other periodicals and is available on the Web. He is the author of six books on casino games, including The Video Poker Answer Book and The Slot Machine Answer Book. His tips for players are broadcast on WLS-AM 890 in Chicago.
More and more, the art of player tracking and rewards is melding with science as casino operators seek ways not only to keep players coming back for more, but to shape player behavior and invest reward dollars where they’ll bring the biggest return.
For a couple of decades, the technological revolution that has transformed slot floors has closely paralleled the rise of gaming in Native America. In that time, tribal casinos have earned reputations as early adopters, first in line to give advanced solutions a try.
“Security, security, security, and did I mention security?” said Robert J. Siemasko, vice president, innovation and product development for JCM Global. “That, combined with a near flawless first-time acceptance rate.”
Eric Fisher, vice president, gaming at MEI, pointed to validators as drivers of both profit and customer satisfaction.
For decades, slot tournaments have been a useful tool both to reward loyal customers and to bring dedicated slot players into the casinos. But from the beginning, they either required maintaining a bank of special tournament machines or, as a tournament approached, roping off an area of the slot floor and changing game chips and reel strips so all entrants could play the same game.
Keeping players engaged, in their seats and coming back for more has always been a prime challenge for slot designers, who have met it with an ever-increasing toolbox filled with bonus events, mystery awards, community play, high-definition graphics, animation and sound effects.
That there is demand for online poker in the United States and around the world have never been in question. Even in years the federal government held online gambling to be illegal, and even after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 barred the handling of financial transactions for online play, Americans continued to play poker by the millions; right up until leading online operators closed their sites to U.S. players in 2011.
The evolution of slot machines has brought us to a point where bonuses are no longer just a nice little extra, an added attraction. Events, animation and sound effects that didn’t exist less than two decades ago have become an integral part of why people play the games.
In this issue of Casino Journal, Casino Marketing in the new normal, incentive programs help determine who plays and stays at post-COVID Casinos, a near-term challenge with long-term impacts, and much more!