Downtown Grand Snafu Reaps Big Wins for Players

It’s a Las Vegas story almost too good to be true, but it happened, and it’s sure to become the stuff of casino legend.

Recently, an error in Downtown Grand’s loyalty club system resulted in thousands of dollars in unearned free play for customers and tens of thousands in losses for the downtown casino.

Here’s how it went down.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017, guests using their player’s cards noticed something strange when they accessed their Downtown Grand Rewards loyalty club accounts.

Rather than the typical free play offered by the casino, customers realized they were being given hundreds of additional dollars in free play for no apparent reason.

Ultimately, a system glitch resulted in each slot player receiving nearly a thousand dollars in free play ($970, to be exact), irrespective of their previous level of play. Or, to put it into the parlance of casino management, “Aieeee.”

Downtown Grand $1,000 rebate

They weren’t kidding.

Word of the snafu spread quickly, with customers alerting friends and relatives by phone and text so they, too, could take advantage of the administrative fluke.

While casino free play has no cash value, players are allowed to keep winnings resulting from the use of free slot play.

Downtown Grand’s incident (most likely caused by human error, according to casino insiders) resulted in players cashing out for substantial sums as a result of the gaff.

There’s no way to know how many players took advantage of Downtown Grand’s mistake or how long the glitch was in effect before casino management rectified it, but it’s safe to say the casino took a hit for tens of thousands of dollars.

One customer inquired about the abnormally generous free play and a Downtown Grand employee claimed a similar aberration had transpired a week prior, but players had mistakenly received free play in the $100 range.

Downtown Grand

We totally got a photo release from this guy and his suspenders, so no worries.

While magical for gamblers, errors like the one at Downtown Grand can do serious damage to a casino’s bottom line. Casino computer systems are sophisticated, but remain vulnerable to human fallibility.

The good news is Downtown Grand seems to have found its footing in recent months. We’ve heard the resort’s room bookings are strong and there are plans to add more room inventory soon.

The resort has also announced it will transform a nearby parking structure into The Quad (don’t get us started about the name), an entertainment district featuring a tavern, concert venue and fitness center. Read more.

Downtown Grand The Quad

Yay, new.

Here’s a better look at the plans for The Quad at Downtown Grand.

So, here’s the question: If you realized you were getting a thousand dollars in free play you hadn’t earned, what would you do? Would you keep playing or report the error to casino officials?

Let us know. We’re a Las Vegas blog, so we won’t judge. Probably.

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  • Photoncounter

    I personally would question it at the Players desk. MGM clawed back $1000 resort comp they gave me at Mandalay Bay several years back when my “play was insufficient for the amount of comps we gave you” (I lost $17K but they didn’t care). That hurt. Nothing is free. I no longer gamble mainly because of that experience.

    If the Grand eats this and learns from it, good for them! I wish them well!

    • Jefe

      Seriously? Wow. I’d be furious if that happened to me.

      Don’t blame you. I’d probably walk away as well.

  • W.B.

    “So, here’s the question: If you realized you were getting a thousand dollars in free play you hadn’t earned, what would you do? Would you play on or report the error to casino officials?”

    Personally, I’d take all my winnings and spend it on…flatbread casserole.

    Boom!! Beat you to it, Rusty!!

    • RustyHammer

      This guy is winning

    • Dear god, don’t encourage him. “)

  • EnuffBull

    Good luck to you, Downtown Grand, but please have that kind of snafu when I come to play in August! 🙂

  • RustyHammer

    They give it, you play it, no Qs asked.

    Mother’s day was a while ago, how are we only hearing about this now?

  • Paul Farmer

    Silly question: don’t casinos protect themselves from this kind of error with the typical blah blah blah legalspeak you see everywhere? Just curious.

    • Bouldersteve

      Even if they could legally recoup the loss from the players I doubt they would.It would a PR disaster.

      • Paul Farmer

        Agreed. But the loss they took was steep. Conspiracy theorist in me questions whether it’s an attempt to increase traffic?

        • Bouldersteve

          Possible​. I know next time I am downtown I’ll go in and give it a try

        • I’d agree, accept this hasn’t been covered at all, and it’s unlikely they’d acknowledge it happened at all.

        • Wolfdog

          Seems to me they could still have gotten the same PR mileage, giving away far less free play. Doesn’t sound like a PR move to me.

    • I’ve never seen anything related to free play, but I’m sure they have it. Once it’s played, I think they’d run into a huge liability if they suddenly said “we’re not paying you the money you’ve won with your free play.”

      • Wolfdog

        Yeah, it’s not like a machine malfunction. More like a human Oh shiit. Or a disgruntled/fired worker, screwing things up on the way out. Then calling their buddies.

  • Jefe

    A fitness center? How about a nice spa? Would love to go back to the Grand but the ball & chain keeps insisting on Strip stays because of the lack of spas Downtown.

  • Bouldersteve

    Great Mothers Day present.How do we know this was human error. I suspect a Russian hack.Can you imagine the money lost if this happened to large casino like MGM or Caesars.I am sure at least one person is now a former employee of DTG

  • Funkhouser

    Looking at the new plans, I question why they put the meeting space at the side facing the alley, except for convenience to hotel guests, That side facing the alley is way ugly, so any windows are going to have a bad view. I guess they figure it is better to give the fitness center more daylight or better view. It’s also kinda foolish to not have a direct connector to any of the hotel parking structures. They way I look at this plan is you have to go out the backdoor of West Tower and cross the alley. How stupid.

    • Yeah, it is going to be a challenging space, although that isn’t likely to matter with the conference space or fitness center.

      • Funkhouser

        Having booked group travel / meeting spaces for onsite customer conferences, I can tell you sales and marketing people are somewhat sensitive to the venue appearance. If I am bringing my customers out to talk about a great new product or feature, I sure don’t want their first impression to be a dump of a facility. We used to book offsite meeting space for Comdex sessions back in the day, and I can remember the area VP saying, don’t stick us in that sh@t hole you put us in last year (referring to the old Rivera meeting rooms). Now for internal training, etc management will forgo ascetics for lower group travel rates sometimes. I’m guessing DTG is going to get those second tier bookings, like real estate investment seminars and multilevel marketing conferences.

  • Kevin Rackley

    My first thought is “high limit room, here I come!” But I might reconsider if I was staying there. Related: I’m staying there in September.

  • Charles Auer

    Assuming everyone played to maximize their return, That $970 in freeplay should have averaged out around $790 per player. That’s assuming they didn’t just play it all back.

    A lot of people have the attitude that the casino is trying to take every penny from you they can, so it’s open season on their mistakes. The same person who would hand back an extra dollar at the grocery store will take any incorrectly paid win while protesting every incorrect loss. Not saying I do or do not have this attitude, but I know I have exploited positive expectation promotions whenever I have found them. (Cough, first year of Great Race to Rewards.)

    • I think that’s right, Charles, thanks. My friend cashed out with more than $900.

  • Gabrielle Wisznia

    I usually play DDB VP at .25 max bet but if I noticed a freeplay error like that I would honestly bump up to 1.00 or 2.00 and max bet, playing as fast as possible until all the freeplay was gone and pray for 1-2 major hits, cash out and head home 😛

  • Mike L

    Your move, Stevens brothers!

    • Apparently, there’s a high level of paranoia about such mistakes being made, so there are often layers of approvals before changes in free play go live.

      • Mike L

        DTG actually did this to me once when I used to stay there. I was supposed to get $75 free play and it was doubled to $150. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I’m wondering if this happens more there due to a lack of internal controls/approvals. You’d think that any accounts with free play balances of a certain about (maybe $200 or more) would have to be flagged by their system and manually reviewed and approved by a manager before going live. If such a system existed, it would have immediately flagged all accounts beforehand and they could have caught and corrected it.

      • Bouldersteve

        You would think..but i guess not in this case unless you believe in conspiracies.

  • Wally Marshall

    I have been saying for years that DTG is operated by novices at best. They have thrown millions down the drain on so many fruitless efforts and i have heard from many that it is a tough environment to work due to top level personalities which results in lots of management turnover. The next owner should do pretty good so long they clean house of top level management. It would be interesting to see an article on how much bottom line income the DTG has actually made, if any.

    • PalateA

      Wally Marshall is probably the biggest hater of DTG on this blog. Never says anything positive.
      They are expanding because the model is improving and there is a need. Hotels dont build more towers because the rooms aren’t full! Management there has been stable for 2 years now if you new anything about the property . Get your facts straight and your opinions objective.

  • Wolfdog

    Definitely, I’d keep playing. Maybe comp the club manager’s drink. He probably needed one.