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Gaming Guru

 

Casinos Love Winners

11 December 2002

For years, it has been a constant theme at family parties I have attended. "There should be a law against someone monopolizing a slot machine for days and days," I often heard. "There isn't a law," I would respond, "but you should let the casino management know your thoughts. They can do something about it and will, if it is in the best interests of a majority of their customers."

The basic point I would make is that people who visit casinos are treated by the law as "invitees" or people who are at the facility by invitation. Just as a person who throws a party can ask someone to leave - so can a casino, for whatever reason they may choose, as long as it isn't based on gender, race or nationality. The law has to give a casino that right. It is the only way to allow the casino the freedom to ask rude, impolite, suspected cheats, drunk and/or rowdy people to leave. This is the same right other businesses, such as malls, have and have successfully enforced.

In recent weeks, there has been a public relations nightmare involving the Greektown Casino. Greektown has been literally skewered in the press over a decision that it made to disinvite several guests in the interests of making things more enjoyable for everyone else. It has become the hot topic of conversation among casino customers, and certainly has triggered a lot of questions from readers who, after reading all the articles, are left wondering "how can they do that?" or "why did they do that?"

Frankly, the "How" question is easy and is answered above. The "Why" question probably as a different answer for every single person who was asked to leave. Wisely, Greektown Casino has steered clear of the specifics, thereby avoiding potential liability for slander or libel. Yet, Greektown's silence or generalized answers have given critics the ability to push all the right buttons of those inclined to think the worst.

What are those buttons? They are the same old tired themes that are used consistently to attack the gaming industry as an acceptable form of entertainment. They paint a picture of a conspiratorial mindset on the part of casino operators to make sure that people don't win. Anyone sophisticated enough to be reading this column knows that all such talk is hogwash. The gaming business is a business of simple statistics. For every wager in a casino, there is a statistical percentage of the dollar played that, in the aggregate, is paid to the casino for its services. In the aggregate, in the long run, this "hold" amount is very predictable and certain. The amount of "hold" on the various casino games is determined, in large part, by the tax rate (i.e., what the state and local governments must be paid) and the competitive forces of the market. Setting the amount of the hold on each particular bet is a business decision, made at the highest levels. The decision is made as a broad-based design, and the necessary supplies (i.e., slot machines, other games) are purchased based on this design. All equipment in this state is tested and inspected by the Gaming Control Board and approved for use as a fair game.

Once the hold is set, a casino does not care who, among its customers, wins or loses. Both are essential to the business. What a casino manager cares about is how many dollars are wagered. In fact, I suspect that most casino customers are like me in that they are far more likely to wager a dollar if they are ahead, rather than behind. From a business perspective, casino management doesn't care whether I win or lose. They care that I make the bet. That is why, so often, big-time casino winners are given complimentary suites by casinos. The casinos recognize that such winners are far more likely to feel comfortable wagering dollars that they have previously won. Casinos also recognize that having people win is a big and essential part of what makes the whole casino experience so much fun. The casino business is about fun, enjoyment, and a good night on the town.

Casinos love winners simply because they are customers. Any business likes to have more customers. Just as with any business, a casino would not ask a customer to leave unless doing so would keep more existing customers happy or attract new customers.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com