by Ed Meyer

posted on June 27, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

I attended a party where there were many card games, plenty of great conversation and adult beverages were being consumed. Gambling was the target of the night, and I found that many players gave me answers that caught me off guard.

Casinos and racinos drag people in and get them plunked down at a game where they can put in quarters, dollars, and beyond. The atmosphere seemed to be non-stop, and they loved the action. The players ranged from $2 place players to others that bet more in a night than I make in three months. It was a perfect group to run my test.

I never mentioned that I work at the track, and finally a friend mentioned that I am in the industry. This is where my sample group gave me the insights better than any focus group I have watched. They had been telling me for quite a while about the action, and now it was my turn to see what we were lacking.

They all seemed to enjoy the sights, smells, and melting pot of the track. The conversation took many back to making their first trips when they were kids. They pretty much had some of the same answers. Most liked the races, but felt they did not know enough about what was going on. They didn’t mind betting, but they needed to be educated. Others felt there was not enough constant action. After hearing the responses, my drive home was a reflection of the night.

One – we need to as an industry have many seminars, first time windows, and special days geared at newbies or those trying the game. I wanted to break down that barrier, and show them what it meant to watch your horse thunder down the stretch, or how much beauty could be seen in the paddock. We could have informational sessions on our website that shows a who-what-where-when type approach. This would allow the newbies to at least get a beginning on their own time and not be intimidated. We need to take the time to educate with materials, and stop running more commercials showing glamour. I think we need to build from the bottom up. This will be our next generation of players.

Two – For the folks that like casinos and racinos…..It is a MUST that the track be shown on the message portions of the machines. Allow them to bet from the machine itself. I saw this ten years ago, and it is easy to keep the action going. Please, let’s not all forget what will allow racinos to begin…..Let’s keep the racing in the front, instead of being a back burner idea.

Instead of more promotional hats and calendars, have a drawing with cross-property casinos. They will gladly do this, as you have a built-in base for them to tap. I did it for years, and the casinos loved bringing in known gamblers to run up the churn. Give them trips to play, and focus things on the aspirational goal of m0ving to the next level of being a “Star” player. This is where the pearls will be found. The real players don’t want to be noticed for the most part, and those who broadcast they are biggies usually are not.

So, there it is… A night spent with gamblers…. Take it for what it is worth, but the focus is on the guests. Reward them, cater to them, and show them what they can aspire to be… I think we could be moving in the right direction, and we can learn from their behavior.

Good luck, and enjoy!