by Dennis Conrad
When you get down to it, my role as a casino marketing consultant is to
come up with strategies and techniques that will get people to spend more
money, that is, to GAMBLE MORE. This normally doesn't pose any dilemmas
for me because I believe, along with millions of others, that gambling
is a perfectly acceptable and fun activity.
But much like people who drink excessively can create issues for the legal
alcohol industry, people who gamble excessively can create issues for
the legal gaming industry. We all wish that there were no problem gamblers
or compulsive gamblers. But there are --if you don't believe me, check
out any Gamblers' Anonymous meeting in your town.
It does no good in my mind to downplay the problem or to deny that it
exists. The tobacco companies did that for years, and now umpteen billion
dollars later, I'll bet they wish they had been more proactive in addressing
issues associated with their product. Certainly the gaming industry needs
a more enlightened approach.
Now I realize that I am more than a little hypocritical to be promoting
marketing tactics that encourage gambling, while I suggest that you discourage
gambling among certain customers. I do not mean to preach. But with the
recent spotlight on problem gambling by the National Gambling Impact Study
Commission and the increased state regulatory focus on this issue (especially
in Nevada), I do think that it is appropriate that I suggest some things
to THINK ABOUT, from the perspective of a problem gambler, as they relate
to your casino marketing and operating efforts.
With that in mind: .
THINK ABOUT what it is like for a compulsive gambler to have quick and
easy access to casino credit representing as much as their entire net
When you have thought about some of these issues with an open mind, you
will be better prepared to take action in your marketing and operational
efforts to show a sensitivity that problem and compulsive gambling do exist.
Do not view this issue as a threat and you will see the opportunity to do
the right thing in minimizing the damage that compulsive gamblers can do
to themselves at your casino.
- THINK ABOUT the opportunity to be a conscientious community citizen
and the ability to reach hundreds of thousands of your customers when
you consider whether or not to put a small tag on your advertising,
collateral or direct mail that says something responsible like "Know
When To Stop Before You Start" and offers a toll free helpline number.
- THINK ABOUT what it is like for a compulsive gambler, who often can't
pay the rent or buy groceries, to hear a casino advertisement that says
"Come on in and win your rent, house payment or groceries for a month."
- THINK ABOUT location of your ATM machines and how you balance guest
convenience with concern for making access to cash too easy for compulsive
gamblers. Do likewise when you explore technology that allows using
credit cards right at tables and slot machines to receive quick cash.
- THINK ABOUT how seriously you need to take your commitment to remove
a name from your casino mailing list when a guest requests it. Some
of those guests might be problem gamblers trying to cope.
- THINK ABOUT your front line marketing program - your EMPLOYEES! -
and how some of them might have a gambling problem and need help. Do
you have help available?
- THINK ABOUT taking your wonderfully creative communicating and sign
making ability and using it to convey two messages: 1) Underage persons,
stay out of the casino and, 2) Problem gamblers, help is available.
Then place these signs where they will be seen.
- THINK ABOUT effectively educating all of your employees in customer
contact positions about problem and compulsive gambling. No you cannot
make them into trained therapists or show them intervention techniques,
but you can increase their awareness of the problem.
- THINK ABOUT financially supporting your area organization that deals
positively with the problem gambling issue, when you are allocating
your yearly charity budget.
- THINK ABOUT how fast your video poker machines deal out their hands
from the perspective of a compulsive gambler.
- THINK ABOUT becoming more knowledgeable about the problem gambling
issue so that you will better understand how it affects your marketing
and operations. Your local state Council on Compulsive Gambling is an
excellent resource and would welcome interest and involvement from someone
in your organization.
My sense of the casino marketing landscape is that there are still a few
unenlightened executives who probably would like to get their hands on the
names and addresses of Gamblers' Anonymous members so that they could market
to them. However a growing number of casino executives are becoming aware
that problem gambling is a real issue and are struggling to find ways to
deal with it. And even a smaller, but increasingly influential third group
of gamers have made real commitments to problem gamblers and their families
and are making a difference. THINK ABOUT being a part of that third group
when you are marketing your casino.
Dennis Conrad is the President of Raving Consulting Company and the Vice
President of Fundraising for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling. If
you or someone you know has a gambling problem, just pick up the phone and
call the Problem Gamblers' Helpline at: (800) 522-470
Date Posted: 30-Apr-2000
DENNIS CONRAD is the president of Raving Consulting Co. which specializes in Common Sense, Customer Focused, Marketing Consulting for the gaming industry.
He can be reached at:
475 Hill Street, Suite G, Reno, NV 89501
· (775) 329-7864
· fax (775) 329-4947
· email: TheRadcon@aol.com