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While loyalty programs exist in almost every industry, Harrah’s (now Caesar’s Entertainment) has taken their program to a very different level.
They understand that everyone has different levels of tolerance of risk and loss. As gamblers reach their limit for losses, they most often will stop gambling, and typically feel not so good about the experience. As gamblers use their Harrah’s loyalty card in the casino’s slot machines, the loyalty system tracks their behavior (how much they win/lose, how much time they play, how often they play) and eventually determines the level of loss the gambler is prepared to incur during a typical visit, to a fairly precise level.
Now having identified that loss tolerance level, Harrah’s staff can monitor the gambler’s wins and losses and, as the total loss begins to approach their calculated tolerance level, staff can be despatched to offer them a reward for their play, such as a meal in the restaurant or cash for further play.
What’s interesting is that the idea is not to get the player to stay and spend more (the player has already demonstrated through past behavior that they’re unlikely to do that), but to help them leave the casino feeling better about the facility and less negative about their loss. The success of Harrah’s loyalty program seems to confirm that the gaming industry giant has figured out that players will choose to be loyal to a particular venue when they are treated special, even if they’ve lost money.
But does the program reflect a “responsible gambling” approach? I’m sure there are many who would suggest loyalty programs should not be part of a gaming experience. They might argue that a socially responsible gaming operator should not be enticing players to play more.
But if you accept that gaming is a legitimate adult entertainment option, don’t casinos have a right to compete with other entertainment offerings for their patrons’ continuing business and loyalty? Gambling itself is not the problem – gambling beyond one’s comfort zone is. If a loyalty program is designed to encourage play beyond that zone, I think it’s misguided. But if it’s intended to encourage willing gamblers to choose that casino the next time they’re heading out, I’m okay with that.
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