By now you’re in driving range to a casino. On average, players travel 150 miles to get their gamble on. Some have a quick jaunt, and for others it takes a bit more planning to lose the kids education. As you start seeing the road side signage, you’ll feel your heart start racing and the conversation in the car takes on a positive flair. The bright lights and well dressed valet attendants make you feel welcome, the sound of intoxicating music is loud enough to get your toes tapping. The sights, sounds, and thumping pulse pulls you in by your purse strings. The mirage is all for your entertainment, and never think for an instant they got lucky making you feel good.
If you skipped psychology 101, you may have missed out on the secret sauce. The glitzy glamorous feeling pulls you in like a conveyor belt. The sexy sounds pumping in the background are no mistake. When you’re playing the high limit blackjack tables and hear an old 80’s favorite playing “Right Round,” before you know it you’re sliding out more chips for one more bet. The carpets grab you as soon as you roll through the doors. We have all heard of the “hidden carpet designs” and how they transform your thoughts. Well maybe half of that is true, and it does serve a purpose. This is one of the most guarded secrets in the casino, and you won’t find a color coded chart on the wall next to the clock. The colors drive you in particular directions. Certain colors slow you down to be grabbed by the glitzy lights at the high payout poker machines. Others keep you moving, and some elicit a hunger response as you smell the full-service buffet making your dinner just like mom.
You won’t see clocks, or clear glass windows. No need to see the night sky, as you entered the maze when it was a sunny afternoon. It keeps you off balance as the looping hypnotic music plays your favorite songs in the background. Gambling can take its toll and you’ll find yourself getting a little sleepy. The environment can rejuvenate your energy by pumping in pure oxygen to keep you alert, refreshed, and awake. Add in the sounds of “near misses” for the big jackpot, the scantily dressed casino staff offering drinks and anything to make you more comfortable. If you cannot make your way out, that is a well thought design. The “maze-like” layout will have you turning corners looking for the doors only to find themed penny slots with your favorite movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
Here is a small wager for you. Walk in, and you’ll see everything. On your way to restroom, you’ll see high limit machines for you to plunk in a few coins. “Will you please direct me to the cashiers window ?” – I’ll bet a Coke that it’ll take you a few tries to find the location. – As you walk past that high denomination slot machine, you may see a subliminal message flashing the royal flush jackpot. In some Canadian casinos you’ll feel this message so quickly it’ll take you back to the drive-in movie messages that drove you to the concessions stands. “Do you smell that? I think it’s Rose or Violet. Aha, it’s crushed lime mint!” The atomized aroma oils are pumped out to elicit hunger in areas, relaxation in the lounge, and invigoration in the gaming areas.
Now that many tracks are becoming racinos, you’ll see the soft touch of the parent company working its magic in the gaming areas. You won’t find this where the racing exists, and you can bet dollars to donuts you won’t find it in the race book. You may be treated to arm pit sweatshirt, or the smell of stale cigarettes. What if the casino who bought the property actually took a bigger interest in racing? There are tons of cross-promotion concepts that could give the facility one more reason to be there. When the public sees the glitzy top shelf casino and the average “I don’t care if you visit” race book, they will figure out quickly that racing is a cross to bear so they may have a casino license.
What if the casino treated the racing product with more interest? There may be money in the long run to turn your facility into a destination place. You can bet some races, play the slots, grab a top-notch bite , or catch the big game in the “badass-sports-bar.” If you can offer up lottery products, do it in a big way. How about Keno? Do it, and have screens in every lounge and hallway. Make it easy to wager on anything and everything. Have race book terminals against the ATM wall in the casino, or you can bet Keno in the lounge as you enjoy a cold beer. While the band plays music in the sports bar, you can watch the game, and make a bet on the races with a self-serve terminal close by. How about a bank of computer terminals in the sports bar area located in the “Fantasy Sports Lounge” for punters to keep up on their teams, or make an off-shore wager while enjoying your incredible sports bar grub. I know it sounds easy, and they have more insight and talent than I ever will. So how come we don’t see it yet? You’ll read about lagging financial reports, and how the area is saturated with competition. Really? I once believed in the concept of the dollar going only so far, but after further review. The facilities that want to bring as much action, fun, excitement, and entertainment are doing well. The others bitch about what is missing. The discretionary dollar is ours. We’ll spend it online at home, shopping, movies, or eating out. How about offering everything under one roof? The best part of the deal is that facilities don’t have to build a palace to hold 20,000. The live racing grandstands should hold about 2,000, and have an ample apron area that could be a multi-purpose area for races, parties, VIP’s, and outdoor concerts. The race book should hold 1,500 – 2,000. This allows players to spread out, and ample seating for the 30 marquee days in the sport of kings. Leave the casino anyway they see fit. This is their baby, and they know more than we’ll ever understand. Before the first machine comes in, the operation should consult with some of the long time players. It’s more than just lip service, because if they think they’re being heard, you can count on these loyal players to come and bring others just like them.