Casino Tour Observations

If you are a member of the Harrah’s Total Rewards players club program, which is available at Chicago-area Harrah’s destinations in Joliet, Ill., and East Chicago, Ind., your mailbox is probably filled every month with marketing letters and postcards announcing special promotions.

The promotions range from scratch-offs, gifts, bonus point multipliers and cash-back offers. They’re all tremendously popular and certainly drive in the traffic, which is exactly what the casinos want. If they weren’t successful, they’d stop. On the contrary, there seems to be more and more of them.

Whatever extra average players can derive from the promotions is great. The danger is when guests make unplanned casino visits just because the promotion is being held. The temptation is great because many of the offers are good for one particular day only. If you don’t go, you miss out.

The most ideal promotions are the ones which are good any day for the entire month. If gives players options and choices and allows them to be better able to take advantage of perks for which they become eligible.

In the meantime, remember what being a smart gambler is all about. Don’t let casinos dictate your visits. Use marketing programs to

your advantage, not the other way around. It doesn’t make sense to invest time and gas in a long trip to pick up a $5 perk, and then wind up losing money in the bodog casino.

Here’s another reason why Las Vegas is still the “gambling capital” in spite of the proliferation of casino betting to many other parts of the country: On December 6, Terrible’s Casino & Hotel celebrated its third anniversary by offering gamblers a pair of sweet six-hour deals that those of us in the Chicago-area can only dream about. From 6:00 p.m. to midnight video poker players received three-times the payoff on royal flushes at all machines twenty-cents and under. That meant instead of the usual 4,000-coin or $1,000 royal flush payoff for max coins on a quarter machine, Terrible’s paid 12,000 coins or $3,000. Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor Online observed that with this bonus on Jacks or Better machines, it tilted the theoretical return dramatically in the players’ favor to 104.3 percent. By making it such a positive game, quarter players could expect to realize about $30 per hour in profit in addition to the slot slot club benefits by using a player’s card.

During the same six-hour bonanza, blackjack players at Terrible’s were getting double payoffs on suited naturals. That meant instead of receiving 3 to 2 ($7.50) for a suited blackjack for a five-dollar bet, anniversary night players got 3 to 1 ($15) for a five dollar bet. The Las Vegas Advisor reported this bonus gave the game a 1.25 percent edge to basic strategy players. If you also employed a card counting system, the edge was magnified even more.

Las Vegas, of course, is a “buyer’s market” for gamblers. There is intense marketing competition among the property owners to boost shares. The Chicago-area is still a “seller’s market”. We have as much of a chance at seeing a similar promotion around here as we do getting a money back guarantee when we play!

The Horseshoe Casino in Hammond recently added another dining option to its dazzling array of restaurants. J.B.’s Gourmet Sandwiches & Salads opened to the public on Monday, December 8. It is located on the second level of the pavilion previously occupied by the gift shop, which was moved to the first floor.

More than a dozen gourmet sandwiches are on the menu, including a scrambled egg, apple smoked bacon and Wisconsin cheddar cheese Panini served hot on grilled Italian bread and served with a fruit cup for $4.50. There’s also the signature nine-ounce Jack Binion Burger, as well as an emphasis on Asian cuisine.

J.B.’s Gourmet Sandwiches and Salads is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When diners present their Winner’s Circle player’s card upon ordering they’ll receive a 15 percent discount.

Chicago-area casinos support charitable causes the year ’round, but it’s at holiday time that they can really make a difference. Harrah’s East Chicago Hotel & Casino, for example, pitched in to help make the Food For Friends Thanksgiving Eve dinner at the Pacific Garden Mission on South State Street a success. Harrah’s donated cash, food, a chef and a team of servers to host dinner for nearly 600 homeless and needy people.

Similarly, the Horseshoe Casino Hammond hosted a food drive among its employees. Approximately 750 pounds of non-perishable food items expect to be collected before the drive ended on December 14. The food will benefit America’s Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, the area’s largest distributor of food to residents of Northwest Indiana.