Posted by Mission146
Oct 30, 2015

The Worst Promotions I Have Personally Experienced

In the first of this pair of Articles, I highlighted (or low-lighted) the fourth and fifth worst promotions I have experienced.  Now, it's time to get into the Top 3 Worst Promotions!

3.)  The Meadows' 'Play $1,000 On Us'

I suppose I should throw a disclaimer out there and say that I did not personally play this Promotion as it was for new cardholders and I was not a new cardholder.  With that said, I told a good many of my friends about this particular promotion (if they weren't Meadows cardholders) and suggested they go try their luck at the slots, or whatever they wanted to do.  

After all, all it really takes is the discipline not to lose the Loss Rebate money back (read: grind properly) to be at some sort of advantage.  With something like this, yes, there are ways to get value that are better than other ways, but it's very close to impossible to still be playing at a disadvantage.

The way that this promotion was supposed to work is that, in increments of $50, new Players Club Members could have losses of up to $1,000 on their first day and it would be reimbursed in the form of Free Play over two installments.  

The main problem with this Promotion was the fact that nobody really knew when those installments would actually take place.  It is true that the Free Play could be loaded at the kiosk, (no need to go to the Player's Club desk) but there was a lot of uncertainty as to when it would actually go on.

If one were to read the website, the verbiage was such that the first half of the Free Play would take place exactly one week after the day upon which the losses were incurred and the second half would take place the week after that.  That did not end up being the case at all.

Now, the answer that a player would get from Player Services depended entirely on who in Player Services you asked.  Some of the representatives basically responded with something very close to what was advertised on the website.  Some representatives stated that a player would get a mailer with a date range on it for each installment, while others said it would be an E-Mail.

In any event, some people did not receive an E-Mail, a physical piece of mail, and it wasn't on exactly one week later.  Basically, what some players (particularly the ones who tried it with a reasonably large sum of money, many of whom actually failed to have discipline and lost more than $1000) resorted to was simply going every two days, or so, and checking to see if it was on there.  

There are some people who even told me that they never received their Free Play, but I can neither confirm nor deny the correctness of those statements.  I do have one friend for whom it took three weeks to receive his Free Play, though.

The Result

Well, I would imagine that it certainly irritated some people that the Free Play wasn't on the card when it was supposed to be.  That's very unfortunate because it really was a strong promotion and an excellent way to try to get new people to check out the casino.  Executed cleanly, I think many of the people who played this promotion could have been (and maybe some are) loyal customers for years to come.  It is, perhaps, a good way to steal regulars from other casinos.

However, imagine being in the position of someone that doesn't necessarily intend to lose $1,000.  Before that first half of Free Play comes on there, when you've made a trip to the casino (probably based on what the website said) and the Free Play isn't on there yet, that's not going to be the best first impression, even if it is a strong offer.  I imagine some players actually wondered if they'd been had, perhaps even contemplating what possible recourse they might have.


I know, given the cluster you-know-what of #5 as compared to the other two promotions mentioned, one might wonder why #5 is not actually ranked higher.  Well, the answer to that, as you shall see, is because the two worst promotions I have ever seen are also the two worst cluster-***** I've ever witnessed in my life!

2.)  Terror at the Tables

I think that among the worst possible things to do is to add additional duties to people who, when the place is busy, are quite preoccupied with their normal duties.  For example, how does a, 'Pit Boss,' manage to rate a significant number of players at one time?  Generally and non-technically speaking, the so-called, 'Pit Boss,' makes his/her best estimate of a player's average bet and simply uses that vs. the amount of time the player is at the table (and an assumption on decisions-per-hour) to determine the Expected Loss, and therefore, a rating.  Again, that's a very nuts-and-bolts description.

In the case of this casino, players were actually awarded Players Club Points for playing Table Games, specifically, one point for every $10 in action.  The thrust of the promotion in question was that all players playing Table Games and accruing fifty points ($500 in action) within an hour would receive a ticket that would go into a drum with three players winning a $50 (comes down win or lose, and only the chips are won on winnings, so no $50 for the coupon itself) Free Bet every hour.  Players, of course, could earn multiple tickets within an hour.

Mathematically, this is actually a very well-designed promotion for the casino.  The idea is that all of these players are going to be bucking a certain House Edge and that the amount of money the casino should theoretically win during that process will vastly exceed the Expected Win off of those $50 Free Bets.  It also works on another level, many players will perceive the Free Bet as being more valuable than it actually is (and may bet bigger than usual) and players who don't want to, "Lose anything," are going to bet high towards the end of the hour if they believe they are close to getting a ticket.

Very nice on paper.

In practice, unfortunately, the casino staff had a habit of generally being pretty lackadaisical about player ratings and giving out points, to wit, they simply erred on the side of giving a player too many points and figured it'd all come out in the wash, anyway.  In this case, though, in order to avoid any complaining by players that other players were getting unfair amounts of tickets, (and there was such complaining, anyway) now everyone on the Tables crew had to pay really close attention to what players were betting and how many decisions had been made.  The dealers were even being asked to do the best they could in keeping track of it all, which as you may know, is typically something that dealers don't actually do or care about.

Furthermore, the players, who normally don't really pay attention to how many points (or total $$$ action) they are racking up are also trying to pay close attention to it to make sure they are getting the tickets to which they were entitled.  Naturally, there were a great number of shot-takers who wanted to greatly over-exaggerate how much they were betting and this resulted in some heated arguments spurned by false indignation on their parts.  Besides that, there was also the process of signing the tickets.

Many players wanted to keep track of how much they were betting, so they, of course, wanted to use the calculators on their cell phones which are obviously absolutely not allowed at the tables.  The players argued that they couldn't possibly keep track of the total in bets AND play at the same time, so as a concession, they were allowed to step back from the tables and do what they had to do on their phones.  Of course, this slowed the games down even more.

I didn't participate because, based on the number of players playing (and bets that I was seeing) there's no way I could get enough equity in the drawing to have +EV.  

But, man, it sure was fun to watch!

The promotion was replaced with a Table Games, 'Hot Seat,' Promotion by the following night.

1.)  Ping-Ping-Ping!!!

I'm going to identify the casino for this one as Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center because that's what it was called, then.  Besides, the Promotion was so long ago that it's really not relevant anymore.  

Prior to the hotel being built and the establishment getting Table Games, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack was Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center.  I remember those days fondly because, while I did not do any AP, eighteen year olds were permitted in West Virginia Lottery Gaming facilities at the time.  Prior to turning eighteen, I couldn't have told you what the inside of a casino even looked like, so while this watered-down version of a casino was pretty much the coolest place on Earth to me.  Not that I went much, eighteen year olds don't tend to have a lot of disposable income.

It was also the site of the biggest mess I've ever seen in my life!

Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center was always a bustling place.  Given the coin-droppers and machine sounds, the place was always intensely noisy and there were also waitresses running around all over the place as well as slot techs and people whose main job seemed to be refilling the change bins in the machines once they were depleted.  There would often be a number of players waiting for the refill people as the little red light flashed and rotated in circles above the machine to alert the employees that it needed something done to it.

And, they came up with a promotion that made it SO MUCH WORSE!!!

The promotion was pretty simple, any player playing a quarter machine that had a hit of $20 or more, up to a Max of $100, would receive 10% of the hit as a bonus in quarters.  The Rules were very clear that a hit between $20.00-$29.99 would always get $2.00 in quarters, but that didn't matter.

The staff, who would be swamped on a normal night, was especially busy attending to the machines that would hit such bonuses, ($20 isn't really a huge hit on a $0.75 total bet, for example) so much slow that the floor actually ended up being quieter than usual.  Why?  The reason is because 25% (or more) of the floor was not actually playing anything at any given time because they were waiting to get their bonuses.

Of course, the bonuses themselves absolutely went off without a hitch.  Everything went swimmingly.  

WRONG!  This wouldn't be #1 on my list had that been the case.

The first problem is that people apparently didn't understand how to simply hit the, "Service," button on the machine and wait patiently while staff came around to award the bonuses and have the recipients sign the paperwork.  Instead, people who were alone would go around trying to hunt a staff member down having left their hit up and their money in the machine.  There were a number of low-lives who kind of got the idea (how did word spread so quickly?) and descended upon the casino wandering the aisles and waiting for such a person to leave a machine unattended.  

By the time the rightful winner had tracked down a staff member, only to be told that he/she must go back to the machine and hit the service button and wait, the winner would return to find all of the quarters cashed out of the machine.  Of course, the people in question wanted to blame the staff for this event and would go to the cage to voice their complaints which, naturally, was a distraction to cage staff who were already contending with the usual lines of people wanting to get their cups and buckets of quarters weighed to cash out.  And, I believe they were actually weighed, I seem to recall that they all sat on top of a scale and a digital display read out how much to pay, and only then were they dropped into a bin.

It gets worse.

People who had the good fortune to have such a hit, as well as someone with them, would also do the dance of seeking out a staff member rather than hitting the service button.  Unfortunately, sometimes a spouse would get bored while waiting and decide to play both machines simultaneously.  As you might expect, that negated the bonus.  Also, as you might expect, some people wanted to get into an argument with staff over it.

Further, not all of the machines actually had a, "Paid $xx.xx," meter for the last hit on the physical machine.  One would think it wouldn't take a ton of mathematical ability to read a paytable, compare it to the result, and determine whether or not it was eighty (or more) quarters...but you'd be surprised what some people (including the employees) found difficult.  There would often be two staff members at a given machine engaged in discussion as to whether or not a certain hit qualified for the bonus.  

Meanwhile, I'm interjecting (trying to be helpful) with, "100 Credits is twenty-five dollars," and largely being ignored by staff and players alike.

Finally, some people would actually deliberately continue playing after such hits (got bored of waiting after turning on the service light, I guess) and deciding that mentally noting all of the hits over $20 would suffice, and then asking to receive the bonus on all of them at once.

As you would expect, that did not suffice.  Heated arguments ensued.

By the time the promotion had been underway for a little over an hour, I would say well over a quarter of the quarter machines had red lights flashing on top of them and there were no fewer than twenty heated arguments ensuing between patrons and staff as well as patrons and other patrons, "I hit mine first, she's supposed to come to this machine."  

Meanwhile, the cage is backed up with people trying to cash out and get the Hell out of the madhouse, but they're being held up by people who wanted to argue with the cage attendants about what was happening on the floor.  For the most part, the players were unhappy with the cage attendants' explanations that they had exactly nothing to do with the promotion or what was going on at the machines.  

The whole thing was quite entertaining for about an hour and fifteen minutes, but I left, (fearing I'd eventually witness a murder) so I don't know if the promotion lasted the entire six hour duration for which it was scheduled.  The one thing I know is that they made a lot less money than they usually would have that night because the machines were only getting a fraction of the play they normally would. 

Actually, there is one other thing I'm sure of.  I think everyone who was working the floor that night will forever remember and be able to recall instantly that forty quarters is $10, eighty quarters is $20, 120 quarters is $30...etc


odiousgambit Oct 31, 2015

It seems to me that sometimes the promotion is screwed up by the whole idea being crazy, but also sometimes crazy like a fox? If a snowstorm keeps people away so that the usual procedure produces few winners ... well, maybe the casino bean counters cheered, you know?

Mission146 Nov 02, 2015


I can see your point, but I tend to disagree a little bit. I think it's actually the opposite, and they'd have preferred not to be in the position of making that call because it means the place is empty.

When they come up with Promotions such as these, generally speaking, they have some idea of the average spend per guest and try to project how many guests they will have. Moreover, they probably compare it to otherwise comparable days that other Promotions (or none at all) have taken place to determine that they are getting more than the 5k Free Play they are giving.

Anyway, I would suggest that they would definitely prefer to have a packed slot floor as opposed to an empty slot floor. This being a smallish casino, though, I think they weighed irritating a few players against giving over $100 Free Play, per guest, and went with what they thought they had to do.

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