A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. My cousin go and I to casinos very often in South Florida. We were discussing casino security after the mass shooting in Las Vegas and were wondering why casinos don't use metal detectors of some sort. With money, gambling and alcohol in one place, a situation is bound to happen. Do the casinos think that it will alter the perception of being a safe place if detectors are used?
A. We've seen some increase in the use of metal detectors since the shootings. Wynn Las Vegas and Encore started having employees scan baggage with hand-held detectors in early October. Mandalay Bay, where the shooter fired from a hotel window, and other Caesars Entertainment properties have heightened security measures.
Whether detectors become widespread is a matter that will partly be determined by customers. How willing will you be to endure longer check-in times for the sake of security?
Video poker players who opt for a little low-cost fun at nickel machines usually encounter p…
In federally regulated facilities such as airports, the choice is out of customers' hands. If you want to fly, you have to go through detectors. You can grumble all you like about missing the old days before 9/11 when you could zip through the lines, but waiting to pass through the scanner is non-optional.
Competitive private businesses such as hotels are another matter. There were nearly 43 million visitors to Las Vegas last year, and they make their own choices of where to stay.
If metal detectors create a bottleneck and increase check-in time from 15 minutes to an hour at one property, there's nothing to stop a customer from staying somewhere else that offers greater speed and convenience.
Do customers want stepped-up security to the extent they are willing to endure longer check-in times? If they do, then we'll probably see an increase in the use of metal detectors. But if there's customer resistance and the market decides in favor of convenience over security, then casinos that try using such detectors are likely to pull back.
Resorts are businesses making business decisions, and absent government requirements, the market will decide.
Q. There are two casinos less than 15 minutes from my house. I like both, but the players club at one drives me nuts.
At one, I know exactly how rewards are calculated. I get a point for every $4 I bet on slots or every $8 on video poker, and I can redeem 100 points for $1.
At the one that drives me nuts, I have no idea. They won't tell me their formula. When I've asked at the club booth, they say they don't have a formula like that. There has to be a formula, doesn't there?
A. Casinos that don't reveal a set rewards formula to players give themselves greater flexibility.
One simple example is differentiating among slot players. If $4 in slot play brings one rewards point, then those who play penny slots with 88 percent payback earn rewards no faster than players on dollar slots that pay 94 percent. A program that doesn't publish its formula can give greater rewards to players on lower-paying games.
As rewards software becomes more sophisticated, casinos also can target customers for enhanced rewards. You could see greater rewards if you play more often, if you spend money in the hotel, gift shop or restaurants, or if you're seen as someone who could be encouraged to play more often with greater rewards.
Chances are the casino with the set formula also uses some of the other factors in direct mail or email offers that augment points redemptions. The other prefers flexibility offering rewards throughout its program.