Ready for another chapter in our Clubathon series? In the previous parts (Part #1, Part #2, Part #3) we began analyzing the Player Clubs of several U.S. bricks-and-mortar casinos. We’ll now review our final group of loyalty programs, this time looking at programs mainly outside of Vegas. Next time we’ll wrap it up with a summary of the rankings, announcing the winners in each category, and having a good laugh at Thomas. That last action, however, may be dangerous, considering his experience as “Hush,” one of Batman’s arch-enemies. But hey, if you’ve ever seen his face and survived the trauma, you surely understand why we’ll take him wrapped in bandages any given day.
In this part of our series we will be reviewing the Player Clubs of Pinnacle Entertainment, Ameristar Casinos and Silverton.
Keys to ranking the clubs:
Variety: How many different establishments do they offer? What’s the geographical spread? (10 possible points)
Loyalty: Is it easy to enter? How quickly will you start looking for your way out? How are the tiers structured? (30 possible points)
Entertainment: What does the non-gambling factor look like? Can you bring your wife and kids? Will they find their way back home? (10 possible points)
Attractiveness: What can you do with those club points you earn? Any super-cool rewards? Frequent promotional events? (50 possible points)
Reasons why this is an excellent ranking system:
- Because I said so. Think it’s wrong? Tough.
- If Loyalty and Attractiveness reach 100% of their potential points, the program scores at least 80, which is a fantastic result. Then any additional points are just icing on the loyalty cake.
- More commonly, a reasonably strong program will earn a total of 55-70 points on these two parameters. In such cases, factors like Variety or Entertainment should be considered to determine if this is the right program for you.
MyChoice (Pinnacle Entertainment)
Variety: Pinnacle properties are scattered around Louisiana (four of them), Missouri (two), Ohio (one) and Indiana (one). How many in Vegas? None. They cover four states quite nicely, but not the most important one. I would give them a respectable7 out of 10.
Loyalty: Five tiers, with a nice twist re expiration: You get your level the day you hit the required threshold and keep it until the year ends. Come January 1, all levels reset to the basic “Choice” level. You earn 1 Tier Point for every $5 you bet at the Slots or $10 on Video Poker (VP). Table games, as usual, are different, effected by the game, average bet and how long you play. Climbing up a notch to the “Advantage” level occurs once you earn 2,000 Tier Points, which is not that simple (Slots play of $10K) yet achievable. “The Owners Club” level is for those rare people who can hit 175K Tier Points (or $875K of bets on Slots; x87.5 harder than clinching an “Advantage” status). Score: 20 out of 30. Their FAQ and website is quite clear, with most info laid out in a perfectly understandable manner. Registration is a piece of cake, or just a cookie for people currently holding the physical loyalty card. I like the approach and details so far, yet moving between the levels, turns out to be a gruesome task.
Entertainment: They do offer all sort of nice stuff, from trips to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas to the usual travel/eat/sleep/play benefits and discounts. Score: 6 out of 10. They also have the Chippendales, so what should I do? Hire a Brazilian TV crew and take a Spring Break vacation? Good call – maybe I should …
Attractiveness: The program is crystal clear on nearly every possible detail and it also allows redeeming “MyCash” into real money (cash-out), yet no one know HOW you earn these MyCash Points. We do know that they’ve got a conversion rate, being 1 point equals to either $2 of food/room/shopping, or $1 of Slots Play, or $0.5 of cash-out. That all would be very clear and super logical if you understood how the hell you earn these points to begin with. Score: 30 out of 50, as there is not even a clue to how much these benefits are worth to the player by the end of the day.
Bottom line: 63 out of 100. Cool program, with wide reach, and – mostly – clear and honest terms. We just can’t award it a credible high rank until they clarify the picture a bit. Such obscurities are out of sync with our modern, transparent world. Go and Drink yourself to death.
Star Awards (Ameristar Casinos)
Variety: With two casinos in Missouri and Nevada, plus one in each of the states of Colorado, Iowa, Indiana and Mississippi, they have a total of eight locations, all of which have a fantastic spread. These are not your regular Mega-Structures, but they are quite close by a large portion of the American population. Score: 9 out of 10.
Loyalty: A simple 5-tier club, with a 2,500-point requirement to climb from the initial “Red” into “Premier.” Yet 150,000 points are required (x60) to reach “Ace.” How do you earn a single Base Point? $4 of Slots play or $8 of VP/Keno. I bet even the female version of Thomas could understand that. Table gaming doesn’t count toward the program, yet it can earn any card holder a complementary giveaway, based on level of play. Score: 15 out of 30, because although it’s a simple and straightforward program, with a rolling 12-month expiration, you can’t actually register online (yes, it’s 2012 and here is the one single occasion in which you can’t do something online). Otherwise it would have been an easy 20- or 25-point candidate.
NOTE: The Ameristar establishments in Jackpot, Nevada (yes, it’s a real town, with street names like Casino Way, Ace Road and Keno Drive) are “Cactus Petes” and “The Horseshu”. They run a nearly identical 3-tier program, but with much worse terms ($10 for Slots, $15 for VP, No Table Games) – so we are going to skip reviewing it.
Entertainment: Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! … they have … TIM RUSHLOW!!! And if you’re one of the lucky few who managed to snag these exclusive tickets, you get TWO FREE DRINKS with the price of admission! I KNOW! Score: 3 out of 10. They do offer a constant 25% discount on food for club members who pay with comps, and they have all the regular redneck stuff, but that’s not really competing against anything, not even watching models in thongs slap each other’s inner thighs. Hard as it may be to believe, some people find this more entertaining than Tim Rushlow … wait, that’s his name, isn’t it?
Attractiveness: Very simple terms, with 1,250 comps for $5 cash-out. That’s the familiar ratio of $1 redeemed for betting $1,000 at the Slots. Score: 35 out of 50. Well, it’s not that high by comparison to some of the other small clubs that need to be generous because they can’t offer the bells and whistles of the larger programs. In their defense, they do have level multipliers that improve this ratio, but only at higher levels. There is more: Although Base Points and Club Tiers are accumulated and accepted throughout the network, comps are valid for usage only where you earned them. Scary, eh?
Bottom line: 62 out of 100. Seriously, using even moderately outdated technology would have earned them at least another 20 points. But not being able to connect among the different branches of the same program, not offering another less-attractive sub-program, and forcing us to write Tim Rushlow’s name three times in the same review? Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal.
Variety: Still looking for any – nothing on top of their single casino in Vegas. Score: 1 out of 10.
Loyalty: Four levels and it take 1,000 going from a simpleton “Silver” to an honorable “Gold.” A player who aims for the best would need 200,000 (x20) to convince his wife that they are rich and their last name is “Diamond.” Surprisingly, you collect such points by playing nearly ANY GAME with a convenient ratio of 1 point per $1 of play. Unless … you’re probably wondering if you’re about to encounter another stupid Thomas term? Nearly. Unless you play Slots, which win you 2 points per dollar :) And of course, they have an easy registration process. Score: 28 out of 30. While most VP is at the same ratio, the sexier machines are at $4 for 1 point. Yes, they should all be decapitated at once for such a brutal and aggressive discrimination. So that’s 1 less point on their ranking and the loss of an additional point for not specifying when their points expire.
Entertainment: Regular boring stuff, plus golf, and some aquatic diversions. Ultra VIPs get free concert tickets, but there is nothing worth attending. Score: 3 out of 10. Should have been 5 or 6, but you can redeem your points for Los Angeles Lakers tickets. Current score is at least 3 points above the grading they should have ranked for doing so.
Attractiveness: Well, if they have a decent point-earning scheme, what will their redemption plan look like? $1 for every 333 points, regardless if it’s free Slots play or comps. So basically, you can bet $1,000 at the Slots, and earn a cool $6. Score of 40 out of 50, as it is a clear, easy and rewarding club. Well done. Now expand your program into a chain of hotels and offer nude dancers to the masses. Your extra 10 points will be waiting here until you do so.
Bottom line: 72 out of 100. Apart from this program being housed at a one-resort gig (which has no worthy gigs at all), gaming/loyalty wise, I can’t really bitch about it.
Are we there yet? Not far now! Next week we will conclude this series the only way we know: by shamelessly apply our highly moral online gambling industry values (we also accept PayPal). The final document will gather all of this high-quality content, digest it for you, present it in a way you can pretend to be reading it while waiting for the pole vault competition to begin, and check out who won what. In short, as Player Development experts, if you just ask for it, we will fly you to the moon.
In a matter of only a day (Translation for Thomas: Tomorrow), your life could change completely! And if it doesn’t, come and register for the FREE SEO & CRM Webinar I am going to host along with the leading expert from Promodo, Anna Moseva. I can’t think of a single better thing you can do this Thursday. With your clothes on, that is.