7 Rules to Keeping a Gambler Happy

I speak to folks around the track everyday. I’m not running for mayor, it’s just a little something I’ve always enjoyed. – The players are the most important part of racing. If you don’t believe me, just shut the doors for one year, and see if you’ll be up and running the next. One of my big pet peeves is the “new guard” who seems to think this is a waste of time. – Why would I say this ? Just tell me how many times you see top dog management walking around shaking hands and asking how they can do better. – I’ll guess you might see them on opening day, and after the Derby you can’t find them with a search warrant. – Ok, I’m off my soapbox. Start listening, and you may be surprised at what you’ll hear.


I was chatting with a high ranking manager. She was asking me to keep an eye on what the “big tracks” were doing. – Most would’ve run out with pen in hand and start scribbling. – It takes me back to a high school teacher who had a Zen-like approach to advice. ” Wise men don’t need it and fools won’t heed it.” – This manager wouldn’t take advice if it were etched into Moses stone tablets. But, I digress. – Listening to others is an art. You close your pie hole and actually listen. Don’t wait until you can speak, just take it in. You can mull it over later when they’ve left. – Two ears and one mouth.


After not doing her homework, I realized she had been given a task and didn’t know what to do. I know she doesn’t listen to others as she tuned out one of my co-workers daily. That being said, I wouldn’t toss her a life preserver on this occasion. – She didn’t have a clue she was talking to a bettor, a punter, a gambler, or whatever sanitized name she chose. Once again, my soap box has been put away. – Most have some form of VLT, slot machine, Instant Racing, Lottery, or a full fledge casino telling them what to do. Racing is a necessary turn key they consider a “must-do” until they figure out a way to do away with the beauty and pageantry of the majestic horses. I don’t have all the answers, or even the beginning of the magic potion.  – What do you have to loose ? You’ve tried it your way, and you’re still scratching your noggin.


1. – Everyday with the exception of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup, there is always FREE seating. If you need to charge something, ask them to use points accrued from betting, or charge them a “special rate” with your loyalty card. Don’t make them pay to sit. They’ll just walk away.

2. – You know the giveaways for the casino, racino, or slot players ? – Do the same for the racing fans. – I’ll bet you a Diet Coke you’ll see more action than ever before. It’s good to have aspirational levels to reach, but roll out the player rewards. They deserve “recognition” for their wagering dollar as well.

3. – The special “inner-sanctum” rooms that are lavish and cool. Use them. Make it a reward for the biggest race days. Not only is it a great way to thank them for their loyalty, you’ve created a player who believes in your brand. Think I’m crazy ? – Would you drive past one McDonald’s to go to the next one ? When you think of Holiday Inn, I’ll bet you can visualize the colors. Coca-Cola has stated that every time you see a 12-pack in the grocery store, they value that view at 12-cents of marketing power. – Create something by making people feel appreciated, and you won’t cry as much when the financial reports come out.

4. – Employees, team members, and the rank and file workers are always your best assets. If they don’t believe in your methods, how in the hell will they ever get others to drink your Kool-Aid ? – Treat these people with respect, give them the best training, and have a policy where there is never an “I don’t know answer.” – Have rewards for great employee service, send them off for weekend get away, let them see what you have to offer. Reward in public, and have that sit down meeting in private. You do not get points for making people fear for their jobs. – Once you have them dressed and ready to go, ask their very best everyday. Don’t make them fear for making a decision, and don’t be gung-ho to see how many people you can fire. It is more cost effective to re-train an existing employee than find a new one and invest money and time galore. This all applies unless there is theft, misappropriation of funds, or cheating the system or the public. Use some common sense. Not everything that was done prior to your arrival was wrong.

5. – Don’t walk around with the coat hanger in your shirt. Loosen up ! Gambling, gaming, and making a bet is about having fun for the guests. Make yourself accessible, always be willing to go the extra mile, and represent the company in a positive light. – Sound good yet ?

6. – Customer service is done on the move as they enter. Gamblers hate to be bothered when they’re playing. I had a pick-four coming back to four runners, and a casino host comes up to me and says during the race; ” Are you having a good time ? – I love betting the ponies with my boyfriend. We go here and there, and we just love when they come thundering home. Is there anything you need ? Bottled water, hot dog, may I clean up the losing tickets in your betting station ?” – Well, you can just imagine about the time she stopped talking they crossed the wire. I had the last four horses in the race. – Gamblers are pretty much low key, and just be available. Don’t make them hunt you down for a free comp or ask a question. They are also a cagey sort and hate to be bothered. The Machiavellian principle still exists to this day. – Be available, and be ready.

7. – Lead by example. If you are a manager, don’t let it be beneath you to pick up trash, wipe off a table, hold the door for a patron. The same rules your Mom would have employed at the house works magic in the workplace. – I had the pleasure of working for a few such leaders, and they are the definition of what a manager should be.


I would have liked to have helped this poor sap, but she was more interested in firing people and playing detective. My words are simple. Use some common sense, do the opposite of what you are currently doing, and seek the advice of long time employees who know the game. Don’t look down your snout, and pretend to give a hoot. – Racing is the key. It may not be the pearl you’re looking for, but you have to admit when racing is in session these are some of the best times in the casino. – Just act as if your job depends on it….