In the past, casinos rated only those customers who played table games. The customers’ play was observed by casino floor supervisors who calculated the average amount the customer played per hour. Players who exclusively frequented slot machines could rarely attain the high player category and receive the same complimentaries and extra services given to those rated as high-action players.
In recent years, however, the rating of slot machine players has become common throughout the casino industry. This change was made necessary by the increase in the casinos’ machine revenues and made possible by modern technology.
With machine revenue accounting for the large majority of gross gaming revenues, it became important to find
a way to track these players in order to encourage them to return to play again and again.
The casinos’ ability to track the activity of slot-machine players was provided by electronic systems developed
by most of the major manufacturers. Under these systems, players who apply are issued cards similar to credit cards to be inserted into specially designed slot machines. Each slot machine and video poker machine is connected to a central computer which contains information on customers’ playing histories. When the system has identified the player by his card, it flashes him a greeting on an electronic display ("Hi Bob") and tells him how many bonus points he has accumulated so far and how many coins he must play to get another point. As he drops in coins, the display counts down the number of coins remaining to be played until he gets to his next point. At one Las Yegas casino, for example, a player must drop 20 $1 coins, 40 half-dollars or 80 quarters to earn a bonus point.
Slot-machine clubs serve a dual purpose for the casinos. They are designed to attract players by offering a bonus. Players can earn points toward comps, special merchandise or even "cashback", which is essentially a cash award for patronising a particular casino. But the systems function primarily as player-tracking devices. The data fed into the central computer from each card allows the casino to determine who the high roller players are, the amount and frequency of play, which machines are most popular, how often and for what reason machines malfunction, total revenue per machine, frequency of jackpots, percentage of profits for the casino, and other accounting data that is valuable to casinos.
It simply makes sense to sign up for the slot club in any casino where you might play the machines. While you may not play to the level that would qualify you for comps or cashback, you may be included in a valuable promotional campaign. Casinos are always looking to reward loyal customers, and often go through their databases by offering free tokens, meals, entertainment or hotel rooms. You want your name on the list when these goodies are passed out. Don’t be shy.