The data we have on our consumers is the envy of any other consumer products industry.
It was impossible to track players before the introduction of this system. The system allowed casinos to gather information about their players; they could tell which players were spending the most so they could offer them a bonus to make them lose even more. “We had to find a more automatic way to do that,” Price said.
When the player’s Total Rewards card is inserted into IGT’s machines, all actions are recorded, including bet amount, game name, time spent playing, etc. When the player presses the ‘Cash Out’ button, the system stores all data in a special file where all previously recorded information about this player is stored.
The tracking system knows the player much better than anyone else: over time, Harrah’s can create a profile of the player to measure his risk tolerance, the amount of money he loses before he stops playing so they know the right time to offer him a certain type of bonus to get him back into the game. Sometimes it might be a room in a luxury hotel; other times $15 is enough.
In 2012, This American Life, a weekly radio show, revealed the perverse trend of using this system by considering the example of Harrah’s in Indiana, where a woman was tricked into gambling with bonuses like hotel rooms, expensive jewelry, and free trips. The small prizes fed her gambling habit until it was discovered that she was $125,000 in debt.
“The data we have on our consumers is the envy of any other consumer products industry,” Price said. Heat maps are currently being developed so they can see how much money and in what area of the casino players spend it. A small long term Slots player is just as valuable to a Casino as a rich player.
After our trip to Las Vegas, we visited the Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia on the banks of the Delaware River. The Sugarhouse opened in 2010 and is one of 12 casinos that turned Pennsylvania into a gambling mecca after its legalization in 2004. The interior of the Casino – clear walkways, clean sight line from east to west walls. The slot machines play pleasant melodies sounding like thousands of robots are blowing bubbles. A strategy is used by Silicon Gaming, a software developer, which found that soundtracks in C chords were the best for Casinos.
After 11 years of legalized gambling, the state has made $3 billion from table games and $17 billion from Slots. Walking around the Casino, we struck up a conversation with two Slots players: Diane, retired at 45, and Jack. Both were playing Fu Dao Le, a name that can be translated as Cherubic Chinese Babies. The game was loaded on a ProWave machine with the red Bally Technologies branding and logo in the upper right corner of the screen.