Tighter Slots and Reduced Comps: Casino Execs Response to Lower Gaming Revenue

I read today that the Mirage is using a voucher system to comp drinks in the casino. This is, to say the least, an unpopular idea and a really bad one. Players hate it and cocktail waitresses, who are now getting fewer tips, hate it too. Who likes this idea? Bean counters.

The current gaming revenue situation and the response by casinos is mind-boggling. I am sure number-crunching execs are looking at spreadsheets and determining that the only way they can continue to operate the casino is by cutting costs. If they looked away from the computer screen for five minutes and went down to the casino floor, they would probably learn a lot more. They need to talk to people.

They need to survey customers. Entice them to come into the casino. They need to expect more out of themselves and provide a top-notch entertainment experience for their customers.

When you make your product less attractive, what do you think the end result will be? Suppose you wanted to purchase a new smart phone. Your two options are one that offers you a quality product with a lot of free features, and one that used to be good but then decided to cut costs because not enough people were buying it. Which one would you choose?

I realize the problem goes beyond simple marketing (i.e. making casino games more attractive to put more butts in seats), but it is also much more complex than simply cutting services and saying “people aren’t gambling, so let’s reduce costs.”

My message to casino execs who tighten slots, make players pay for drinks and churn out crummy 6-5 blackjack tables is simple, however: try harder.

Please DO NOT Play 6:5 Blackjack

There is a growing trend in Las Vegas that is driving me crazy. As gaming revenue continues to decline, the games get worse. I urge you to ensure that you play at 3:2 blackjack tables when you visit Las Vegas.

For those of you unfamiliar with blackjack rules, I'll elaborate a bit. When you get a blackjack at a table, you should be paid 3 dollars for every 2 dollars you bet. So if you bet $10, your reward should be $15. If you play at a 6:5 table, you are only getting $12. That might not seem like much, but over time you are giving more of your entertainment dollars to the casino.

What's the difference, you might ask? In the long run, you lose about 8 times more money playing at a table with 6:5 blackjack. And that just stinks. And, my friends, it does not have to be that way.

When you walk up to a blackjack table, if the blackjack payout is not on the felt (and many times it is not) or anywhere else on the table, ask! If it is 6:5, ask if the casino has 3:2 blackjack. Dealers will either point you to the tables that have 3:2 blackjack, or you should play somewhere else.

Many times, casinos will offer 6:5 blackjack on single or double-deck blackjack games, or they will offer 6:5 blackjack games with lower minimums (like a $5 table). Sometimes, they will also offer goofy games (like Fun 21 or Spanish 21 or something similar) where the blackjack payout is 6:5 or, even worse, even money. Please stay away from these.

Blackjack is hard enough to win without having bad rules. There are plenty of casinos that offer good blackjack play at low minimums, including Treasure Island (TI), Stratosphere, most MGM properties, most downtown casinos and most off-strip casinos.

The higher the minimum at the table, the better the rules for the player (such as dealer stays on soft 17, resplitting aces, etc.). Also, the higher the number of decks, typically the better the rules. They are trying to thwart advantage payers, so they figure if the rules are bad at 1-2 deck games, it will keep card counters away.

For a good list of current casino rules and the house edge, check out this site:

At the very least, please, please do not play at a 6:5 table. You will save yourself some money and some entertainment fun in the long run!

Viva, Mike