Smoke and Mirrors – Gambling With An Edge

I’ve written two recent blogs about a drawing in Reno that was supposed to take place in early March. It was cancelled due to weather, and re-scheduled for the end of June, nearly four months later. Normally writing continually about a promotion that is of interest to a relatively small percentage of my readers doesn’t make sense. But this time, several of you asked me how this change would affect my “go-or-not-go” calculus. So, I’m writing again.

In fairness, the weather in Reno and elsewhere around the country has been brutal recently. There were about four feet of snow in Reno proper in the week prior to the scheduled drawing, and snow was scheduled for all three days of the drawing. Reno normally receives less than two feet of snow a year. In the areas just outside of Reno, the snowfall was deeper. Since drawings are geared to bring in a lot of players and a lot of play, and the weather precluded this, the casino had a choice of either biting the bullet, having the drawing anyway, and suffering big losses because the promotion didn’t create the anticipated amount of play. Or postponing the drawing. This casino, this time, chose the latter option. Next time, when the circumstances will invariably be different, they may choose the other opposite.

But they delayed it almost four months! This is a $100,000 giveaway that received plenty of press. Normally a casino would have one of these every three months or so. But this time, they didn’t come up with a new one. They just extended the old one.

I was already in Reno when I heard it had been postponed. Because I’m Seven Stars, I normally receive 20x drawing tickets. I play at least 5,000 Tier Credits ($50,000 coin-in video poker; $25,000 coin-in slots; or some mixture of the two) daily because that maxes out the bonus Tier Credits. On the days of the drawings, they give 30x drawing tickets. Since it is still wintertime and flights are often delayed or cancelled (I’m still a loyal Southwest Airlines passenger!), I planned to come a day early. If my plane was delayed, I’d still likely be there in time to get my 30x drawing tickets.

Once they postponed the drawing for almost four months, to “compensate” the players who showed up anyway, they awarded 220x tickets rather than 20x. That is, instead of earning about 100,000 drawing tickets a day, I was earning 1,100,000! I started my trip with about 600,000 accumulated tickets. I ended it with more 4,000,000.

That sounds like a lot! Except other players got multipliers as well. And who knows if they’ll have some 300x days between now and the end of June? It’s not the absolute number of tickets you have. It’s the relative number compared to other players.

The reason I called this post “Smoke and Mirrors” is because the large number of tickets we all will receive seem like they give us a super-duper chance at winning the grand prize. But it’s still the same $100,000 drawing — split among the player base. If some players get a greater chances to win, it means others get a correspondingly lesser chances.
In my previous article, I mentioned that I probably would not go there for this drawing except there was something else going on in greater Reno, so I could kill two birds with one plane flight. This same event won’t be recurring on the last weekend in June — but it’s possible that there will be an additional opportunity there in addition to this series of drawings. We’ll see. I don’t know yet.

In no way am I criticizing this particular casino. Had I been an advisor, I might well have recommended they follow a course similar to what they did. I’m only using this example to describe my thought processes in how I decide whether to participate in a drawing or not.