Guest Column - May/June 2011

Don't Press Your Luck

Learning From Player Loyalty Programs

By Dana LaSalvia, CRP

While many industries have standard customer loyalty programs in place, the gaming and casino industries have embraced a true customer relationship management (CRM) model to transform the way they interact with their players. In the process, player loyalty has become a reward and recognition model worth noting, and other industries may benefit from replicating its successful, multipronged approach to understanding how customer behavior patterns can help drive business.

The First to the Table

Since the days of the Rat Pack, the simple mention of Las Vegas has conjured up visions of showgirls, thoughts of life-changing poker hands and hopes for the distinct clang of coins streaming from slot machines. In the late 1970s, Atlantic City became the first legitimate competition for "Vegas," opening up seaside casino resorts and quickly evolving into the gaming capital of the East Coast. For decades, these two hot spots were the only contenders vying for the attention of this lucrative leisure market.

Watching this early success and realizing the opportunities that came from opening casino properties, more states legalized gambling to share in the same monetary success and ultimately supplement tax revenue at a state level. These additional dollars are used to augment government funding for everything from education assistance and cultural initiatives to historic preservation and capital improvements. In many cases, what started as an additional revenue stream has evolved into a major employer and has created important tourism markets across the United States.

Do you know the number of states where gambling is still completely illegal today? Two. That's right, only two—Hawaii and Utah.

With the widespread legalization of gaming in recent years, regional and national competition has grown exponentially, with casinos and racinos now in virtually every American's backyard. According to public opinion research conducted in 2010 by VP Communications Inc. and national pollster Peter D. Hart, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of the adult population in the United States visited a casino in 2009, totaling approximately 61.7 million people. There's no arguing that's a large audience. The one variable is their allegiance.