Chinatown in NYC serves as the hub of casino bussing of patrons to all the local parlors in the nearby environs. Here you can catch buses to Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Empire Casino, Resorts World, the AC casinos and, interestingly enough, the Sands Casino in Pa.
At only 90 minutes away, it makes for a very easy-going trip and they co-incidentally have one of the best bus offers making seats on the bus very much in demand. For just a fifteen dollar bus ticket, patrons receive $45 in free-play. That's quite an advantage!
There is one more advantage for gamblers who are hustling and that is the $45 promotion is completely anonymous. Sands is the only casino to hand out bus free-play pre-loaded onto throw-away players cards which are handed out as patrons exit the bus, no ID is required to attain the cards. In fact, there is one patron who as of a year ago was actually under-age--at 20 years old, he would ride the bus, obtain the players card and then sell it for a premium, the going rate of $40 to a casino patron in the bus lobby as he was unable to enter the gaming floor where security would ID him.
Yes, the going rate for these anonymous cards is $40. Why so high? It's a sellers market. Buyers are desperate for just a five dollar advantage, which isn't too bad because these cards could be used at video blackjack and video poker. And besides, the sellers were spending as much as six hours travelling back and forth with the layover at the casino. Since they were doing the real work, the premium for the cards was high.
And, of course, there were some patrons who actually gambled the cards themselves.
So, just who was taking entire day long bus trips to obtain barely $25 profit? Well, the most suitable people for bus travelling day in and day out for little pay where no ID is required -- the homeless!
Good luck getting a seat on any Sands Casino bus out of Chinatown. Almost the entire bus population is comprised primarily of homeless people. They purchase advance tickets, sold on the bus the previous day so that they can hold their seat. Many of these homeless have been riding the same bus schedule in the same seat being served by the same host for years. And of course they don't restrict themselves to just one trip. Being homeless, they have nowhere to go at night either. So they take the morning bus, sell their free-play, return in the evening and after spending the money on dinner and whatever vices the Sands casino is financing, they hop on the evening bus for another go at it. For them, this is the only way they get a good nights sleep. You or I might find it difficult but a quiet bus, regardless of having to sleep in an upright seated position is better than the alternative--and they basically are getting paid to sleep on a bus!
So why would the Sands offer free-play from a bus program without tracking the players obtaining it? Your guess is as good as mine, but here is mine anyway. The Sands casino is just the first step in a major project of LV Sands Corp. The entire multi-platform project can be viewed in miniature relief inside the hotel main lobby. The casino was the first part. The adjoining hotel was the second part. The shopping mall came next and then the renovated steel mill that was turned into a museum. Over the next fifteen years more additions are to take place. SO what do you tell investors when you are trying to greenlight further financing for such a huge project? You fudge the numbers of gamblers arriving by making offers so good, you don't care who they are. Homeless? Long as heads are being counted, free-play cards being handed out who cares? Just bring them in like so much cattle.
A similar thing is done all the time with subscription magazines. Free monthly subscriptions are routinely offered, the cover price of the magazine foregone in order to boost circulation numbers so that advertising rates (where the real money is at) can be raised. It's not exactly artificial boosting--real heads and real people are being added.
The main point of all this is that the Sands Casino set up a situation where free-play abuse--the ability to obtain multiple offers in the same day from their bus program despite printed literature prohibiting it--was rampant and to a large extent seemingly condoned even if they wouldn't admit it if asked.
And what happens when you silently condone free-play abuse with a group of casino hustlers? You get their mental juices flowing as they attempt to figure out how they can milk those offers.
Which is precisely what occurred next in this tale of the hustling wars.
To be continued.
I urge you some caution Darkoz that you don't get into any plays that are still profitable or make people think about how said plays might work. Imagine if those crazy card flippers with 700 cards really knew how to make money. They would destroy all your profitable plays. So far the hustling wars series is only talking about obvious plays but some of your other posts are touching on some subtle things that may create your own competition and mine.
Here's the next installment:
By Fall of 2012, one of the Sands bus patrons, (we'll call him Jimmy, that's not his real name) had already been a recognized regular rider for quite some time. Jimmy was of Latino ethnicity. Although, close to 100% of the Asian bus population is Asian, they don't discriminate and will sell tickets to whomever wishes to make a purchase as long as a seat is available.
On Jimmy's regular bus there were about six non-Asian regular riders!
One afternoon, Jimmy was bored. With nothing to do and an afternoon to kill while awaiting his return bus to New York, Jimmy decided he would hop on the local Bieber bus to Kutztown. After purchasing his round trip at the casino, he rode the hour-long trip to what he discovered was a quiet, quaint German town complete with old style movie theater, shops, candy store and old book-store. It was like stepping onto Main Street Americana from an earlier time period.
Happy with his excursion, he returned to the casino to catch his return bus to New York. On the Bieber bus with him were approximately half-a-dozen residents of Kutztown making their daily jaunt to the Sands. Jimmy was pleasantly surprised when he stepped off the bus with the other few passengers and was handed a pre-paid free-play card for $35.
While it wasn't as good as the $45 he received on the New York run, nonetheless, it was still an advantage deal. His round-trip to Kutztown was $15 so he had a $20 advantage on the free-play.
The next few days, Jimmy returned to Kutztown. After all, there was nothing better to do, he genuinely enjoyed walking around the location and he just added another bus bonus to his daily routine.
Eventually, Jimmy wanted some company, so he informed the five or six passengers on his bus who were not Asian of the perk and suggested they come along for the ride. There was nothing racist about his decision not to inform any of the Asian passengers on his bus. He simply was friends with the non-Asians. Many possible relationships he could have had with the other passengers were hampered by language barriers.
Jimmy and his half-dozen crew made the Kutztown run for a few weeks and then they too grew bored with seeing this quaint German town. They had explored everything of interest, including the open cemetery adjacent to the bus depot where you could see some of the first of the towns original residents in their resting places with dates from the early 1800's.
One of the group suggested taking the bus and getting off at Wescoville which was only 35 minutes from the casino instead of the hour-plus trip to Kutztown. Wescoville was literally an abandoned diner which was now used solely as a bus depot for Bieber. It was surrounded by highway, grass and hills. Not exactly a sight-seeing destination. But since the tickets to Wescoville were five dollars cheaper, they decided to take the chance. Upon their return, the group was pleasantly surprised to find they still qualified for the $35 bus bonus. Even better, if they timed it right, they could actually make two Wescoville runs in the same afternoon. Bieber had timed it so that when one bus was on its way to Kutztown, the bus heading towards the Sands was already en route. Basically, they passed each other on the highway. Not so if you went to Wescoville. You didn't even have that much time for your return layover. The return bus was just a short distance down the highway making its way to you.
So, now they had a nice hustle going on, maximizing their time. They could make up to four Sands bus comps per day. Take the New York Chinatown bus in the morning. during the layover, hop on Bieber to Wescoville. Return for the second comp, catch the next bus headed to Wescoville about an hour later and once again return for another comp. That last trip was indeed pushing it and if traffic delayed them in any way, they were sure to miss their return Chinatown bus but they took the gamble anyway. They could always pay extra in that scenario for a later Chinatown return bus if seats were available and since they always purchased their tickets in advance, they could call the host and explain they were stranded and not to sell their seat back in Chinatown on the night bus just a few hours away as they would be making the return visit.
Upon their return to NYC in the evening, they would once again hop on the Sands bus. Arriving for their fourth bus comp of the day around midnight, they would either sell all their cards or play them out for their daily profit.
Everything went very well for the group for several months. One day, however, in February of 2013, Jimmy was given a surprise by one of the Asian bus passengers whom he had been somewhat friendly with. This passenger had no language barrier. It was the Chinese New Year and in the spirit of the event, he brought Jimmy dinner that evening.
Over Dinner, the subject of casino hustling naturally came up and the discomfort of constantly riding a bus all day. The Asian asked if Jimmy was so uncomfortable, why was he spending more time riding a bus every day to Kutztown and Wescoville. The layover at the Sands was his time for stretching his poor, abused legs.
Jimmy replied by filling him in on the details of the additional bus bonus!
That night, he told his Bieber riding buddies about the exchange. They were shocked. "Why would you tell him that?"
"Well, the guy just took me to dinner. He's a good guy. I wasn't gonna be rude. What's the problem, anyway?"
The others just buried their heads in their hands. "Don't you know never to tell an Asian casino hustler about your hustle? They have a strange propensity for ruining hustles. They have no discretion. They will milk it to the bone."
Jimmy was off-put by the apparent racism and wholeheartedly disagreed with their assessment of the situation.
The next day, Jimmy and his friends hopped off the Chinatown bus, spent a few minutes going to the restroom in the casino before exiting to hop on the Bieber bus. Only problem was they were not going to get on the Bieber Bus that afternoon. Standing on line waiting for the bus were approximately 75 Asians from the Chinatown run.
Sure enough, when the Bieber bus arrived, all the seats were sold out!
Jimmy and his crew were not happy. Jimmy's crew was most definitely not happy with Jimmy.
Bieber actually was pleasantly surprised. Suddenly, their bus ridership had gone through the roof. They had been offering the Sands bus as a convenience to their regular Bieber patrons and had not been making too much money on the deal.
But there was someone who most definitely was not happy about the situation.
The Sands Casino.
To be continued.
The casinos do this to themselves. Years ago you could make money taking the Greyhound from Port Authority to AC. The casinos finally wised up and now the free play and bonus is always a little less than the purchase price.
Exit hustlers stage right.