Comp and Circumstance

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 Ever since I joined a slot club, I have been deluged with mail from a certain casino. Why me, I’m just a quarter player? Alex C.

Bombarding people with promotional mail is one way the casino expects to develop customer loyalty. We all have our own brand identification: Tide, Miracle Whip, and Charmin. The casino wants you to feel the same cozy familiarity with their joint that you experience with your toilet paper.

Casinos can develop a customer base in either of two ways. They can grow by getting more business from their existing properties through their current “loyal” patrons. Or they can cough bazillions of bucks and build more mega-resorts. The former is a tad bit cheaper.

Slot clubs programs are patterned after two give-away pioneers, American Airlines and American Express. Casinos offer “frequent bettor” programs through their slot clubs that rewards participants with perks, rooms, meals, and shows. By pouring money into their slot machines, you, Alex, can be rewarded with trips to the buffet to pile on the prime rib, fried shrimp, and mac-and-cheese. The chow line is the casino’s way of encouraging repeat business and rewarding loyal customers.

Slot clubs cost nothing to join and in no way affect the payout of the machines. Smart slot club members learn to take advantage of these rewards without increasing their normal play. If you continue to join slot clubs, wisdom lies in selecting the best machines possible and managing your money wisely.

On the debit side, new software has been developed that not only keeps track of how much customers gamble, but also predicts who might be induced to gamble more. Be forewarned, Alex, that your allegiance to ABC casino could come at a steep price.

I thought I needed to share this with your readers hoping that they never make the same mistake that I have. I was walking through a casino when I approached a progressive slot machine and inserted only one coin. I hit centerline 7s for the big jackpot but received far less because I only played one coin. To this day, I’m still dreaming of “what could have been.” Please pass along my misfortune. Sally G.

I have always wondered how Cinderella felt the morning after the ball. She dances with Prince Charming and the next morning she wakes to sweep the cinders once more. As luck would have it, you now know.

Quiz time, gentle readers. What is your verdict? Did Sally, the unlucky heroine of this question, err?

Agreed, a blunder on Sally’s part was in failing to insert the full coin amount. But if it’s any consolation for Sally, there would have been no fairy tale finish had she inserted all three coins. The reason for a no-fantasy-payoff was that the “spin” button was pressed at a different moment. In the brief time it would have taken her to insert the two additional coins she failed to play, the machine’s random number generator (RNG) would have produced a different result.

A slot machine’s RNG continues, producing as many as a million combinations per minute, until you control fate by hitting the “spin” button or pulling the handle. Only at that precise moment is the machine alerted to go into action, pick, and display a randomly selected outcome.

Gambling thought of the week: “The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.” -Bernard Shaw

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