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Casinos look for ROI in downturn

Facing record decline, many in the casi­no and gambling industry are turning to direct marketing in hopes of winning big. Big Las Vegas hotels, including Harrah’s and MGM Grand, have dropped their room rates and are offering all-inclusive packages to drive traffic in their casinos and get cus­tomers to gamble.

In a February report, market analyst Fitch Ratings said gaming had historic declines in the last four months of 2008 — down 3.5%. The firm predicted no significant recovery until 2010.

“It is not that people aren’t coming, it’s that they are not playing as much,” said Jack Breslin, SVP of marketing for GA Wright Casino Marketing, an agency that works in the casino industry.

“Casinos are keeping a close eye on ROI, and as such they are focusing on direct mar­keting programs because [they are] measur­able,” he added. “They are really scrutinizing their programs closely and offering things like midweek room deals, food offers and packages to keep people coming in to play in the casino, especially the top players who drive most of their revenue.”

Mohegan Sun, a Connecticut-based Native American gaming and entertainment center, headlined its latest push, “Stimulus, Recovery and Rebound.”

Its direct marketing, which includes rich media banners, direct mail and e-mail, focuses around the casino’s hotel package deals. Special messaging about earning or spending points for hotel stays are being pushed out to the loyalty members.

“We’ve been experiencing the same amount of visitation, but people are spend­ing less,” explained George Galinsky, VP of marketing and PR at Mohegan Sun.

In addition, the casino is offering a $5 blackjack table around the clock, which Galinsky said, is part of the game coming in touch with “our new economic reality.”

“We already have a lot of products and services that offer a lot of value,” Galinsky said. “Mohegan Sun offers a stimulating experience. You come here because it is beautiful; hopefully you recover or rebound by the time you leave.”

The Silver Legacy in Reno, NV, is run­ning a new promotion for 2009 in hopes of driving traffic.

The effort is centered around the “All-New Million Dollar Weekends of Winners (WOW)” promotion, in which players are entered to win a grand prize of $20,000 per weekend by gaming.

The contest kicks off on February 16 and, to promote its opening weekend, there will be a $40,000 giveaway.

“It’s added value for the players to play,” said Glenn Carano, executive director of marketing at the Silver Legacy Casino. “The more they invest in their play, the more they have a chance to win, either cash prizes, machine play credit, food credit, resort stays, entertainment, and so on.”

The contest encourages gaming through­out the week, as credits for the drawing can be won beginning on Monday and then the drawings take place the following Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. To get the word out about WOW, The Silver Legacy is advertising with e-mail, direct mail, TV and radio.

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