Players turning up and losing money is the essential bullet point of a casino’s business plan, as this is what ultimately generates the profits.
However, over time there have been some clear shifts in the casino industry’s attitudes towards the customer in the hope of both attracting their custom and then maintaining it.
There was a time when casinos were all about the big spenders, focused on those willing to stake vast sums on a hand of blackjack or a spin of a roulette wheel.
But opening their doors to smaller-stakes players has proved equally as profitable, especially if these players are more frequent casino visitors.
Casinos typically value their players on a calculation known as their average daily theoretical (ADT).
By assessing the odds of the games a player regularly plays, their average bet and the period of time they generally remain gambling, casinos come up with a number to rank a player’s worth.
A smaller-staking player who likes to play roulette for three hours every day is likely to have a far greater worth than a high roller who adopts perfect blackjack strategy when making their 90-minute weekly visit.
Rewind half a century and you would have done well to spot many women gambling in a casino. At best, a few establishments opted to add some slot machines to their offerings for wives to play while their wealthy husbands gambled in other games.
Slot machines are now a prominent feature of a casino’s gaming floor, primarily because of the sheer number of machines that can be squeezed into a relatively small square footage and because the house edge offered can be much higher than other table games.
Casinos now generate over half of their gaming revenues through slots.
What’s more, the visibility of females in casinos extends to the other side of the tables. Not only did more women begin to gamble, but they also become more employable.
A female dealer is sure to prove an attraction to some players, whether it be encouraging them to place a few bets when they initially weren’t intending to or playing a longer session.
Casinos were previously solely about the gambling. Staff took bets and paid out bets. Nowadays they have to be entertainers too.
Dealers are effectively hosts, with all visitors expecting far more than to simply sit at a table and have cards dealt to them.
Being a dealer is now much more about customer service. They have to provide the right atmosphere in terms of their conversation, interaction, wit and attitude, while getting all of the basics right to allow a game to progress at the expected pace.
A bad dealer, a rude dealer or a dealer generally lacking in people skills could be enough to encourage a visitor to go and play somewhere else.
In places like Las Vegas where casinos face considerable competition in attracting visitors, many had to adopt ways to gain an edge over their rivals. One way of attempting to achieve this was to offer bigger perks than their rivals.
Some attempted to make a play to satisfy the more hardcore gamblers by offering more favourable playing conditions, such as 3/2 pay outs on being dealt blackjack in comparison to the 6/5 being given elsewhere.
Others went to town with comps and freebies to get people through the doors and onto the gaming floor. Most typically, this was in terms of buffets, alcohol or expensive suites. In certain cases, it could be all three.
To gamble was previously the primary reason many visitors headed to Vegas. This arguably isn’t the case any more.
Now, there are shows and concerts from the world’s top musical artists, in-demand nightclubs to sample and various experiences to enjoy.
Casinos have had to adapt to appeal to those more interested in fun, atmosphere and making memories.
Such visitors are potentially more willing to spend money than those keen to gamble, but in other ways. Furthermore, they don’t require comps and freebies to do so.
They may spend 15 minutes spreading chips across the layout on their lucky numbers at roulette, but money will also be spent buying items in high-end retail shops, on an extravagant meal or on a headline show.
Casinos have cottoned onto this by renting out their space to supplement their gambling revenues.
This may be reducing their total revenue as a percentage acquired on the gaming floor, but they are getting customers through their doors.