Category Archives: Gambling

Station Casinos Tests Cardless Loyalty Club System That Could Change Everything

Easily one of the most annoying things about gambling in casinos is the loyalty club card shuffle. Carry. Insert. Insert again. Insert again, with profanity. Leave behind. Stand in line to replace. Repeat.

With all the technology at our fingertips, it’s baffling why players must continue to wrestle with plastic cards to get what’s coming to them.

Station Casinos feels your pain and is doing something about it.

Casino loyalty club cards

The loyalty club card struggle is real.

Station Casinos is testing a new system that promises to make connecting to your slot machine quick, easy and cardless.

We’re happy to report the new system fulfills on its promise.

At the moment, the new cardless loyalty system is only in one Las Vegas casino, Barley’s Casino & Brewing Co. in Henderson. Let’s just say Barley’s is quaint and leave it at that.

Barley's Casino

Barley’s. We don’t need no stinking table games.

Here’s how this cardless system works.

First, casino guests download the Station Casinos app. It’s a one-time thing, and takes a few seconds.

We made the mistake of downloading a similarly-named app, so make sure to get the right one.

Station Casinos app

It’s the one on the bottom. We just saved you upwards of three minutes right there.

Many Station Casinos customers already use the app to track their point balance, make restaurant reservations and book rooms.

Once the app is installed, players link the app to their loyalty club account, otherwise known as a “Boarding Pass.”

Station Casinos app

The account linking process is a great reminder you don’t know your mother well enough.

That’s pretty much it for the set-up, then you’re ready to connect to your slot machine. Without a card. Or one of those coiled leashes. Just your smartphone. Glorious.

Just hold your phone near the slot machine’s card slot (make sure Bluetooth is enabled), hit “Connect to Machine” (see below) and magical slot machine elves do the rest.

That’s probably not the technical methodology you were hoping to see here, but we are a blog, not an app developer.

Cardless Connect

Don’t make fun of our tier, it’s rude.

Once you’re connected to the slot machine, you accumulate points just as you would with your old-timey loyalty club card.

You can tell you’re connected because the card slot turns green.

Casino cardless loyalty club

You’re good, bro.

Your app will confirm you’re good, bro.

Casino cardless loyalty club

In Vegas, it’s all about being connected.

When your session is done, you can hit the “Disconnect” button on the app, or the system will disconnect automatically after 30-45 seconds of inactivity. The connection will also be terminated based upon your device’s distance from the machine, depending upon the device and Bluetooth strength, per Station Casinos.

This system, called Cardless Connect, has the potential to be huge. Not just for Station Casinos, but for casinos overall.

Having a convenient way for player to participate in loyalty clubs means more will do so. That means the system isn’t merely a perk for players, it’s also a boon for casinos.

Casino loyalty clubs have been around since the 1990s, inspired by (translation: lifted from) the frequent flyer model made popular by American Airlines. Loyalty programs are a way to keep customers coming back and are a critical part of casino marketing efforts.

Fun fact: The first casino loyalty club was Total Rewards. It’s the loyalty club of Caesars Entertainment, and its or original name was Total Gold.

Play with your card, you’re “rated.” Play without, you’re “unrated.” Unrated players are the bane of a casino’s existence, as players who use their loyalty club card can be enticed into returning.

Station Casinos app

Admit it, this isn’t the first time you’ve connected with a slot in Vegas.

Casinos know how important it is to reward loyal customers, so loyalty club use can lead to lots of deals, discounts and freebies.

Another fun fact: Members of some casino loyalty clubs receive more than 150 pieces of direct mail a year.

So, what’s next for the cardless system at Station Casinos?

It’s likely there are more kinks to be worked out. The company no doubt watching closely to see how the cardless system impacts play and usage.

We tried dozens of machines, and the results were impressive. Still, there were a couple of machines where the connection failed. The app prompts players to move the phone closer for a better connection.

There are life lessons being taught here, you know.

Cardless loyalty club

This is actually less sexy than it sounds.

Moving closer didn’t work, so we got the “Cannot Connect” message and were prompted to use a physical card, which sort of defeats the purpose of the system.

Cardless Connect slot machines

Rejected.

Still, failures happened on just a fraction of the slot machines we tried linking to (thanks a lot, Buffalo).

We expect the Cardless Connect system will be rolled out to the roughly 20 Las Vegas casinos operated by Station Casinos sometime in 2018, then you can try the system for yourself.

You’ll soon have a bunch of useless cards, so check out our 11 Alternate Uses for Your Casino Players Club Card.

You can find out more about how to use the Cardless Connect system at the Station Casinos blog. Yes, Station Casinos has a blog. And, yes, you can have a hall pass to check it out without feeling like you’re cheating on us. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

As billed, the cardless loyalty club connection system is a fun, fast way to avoid fumbling with cards and to get all the casino perks you deserve for your play.

This cardless system has another benefit in that it feels like you have a superpower along the lines of motion-activated doors at grocery stores and shopping malls.

You won’t just feel like you’re using a player’s card, you’ll feel like you’re using the Force.

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Cromwell Rolls Out Eatwell Snack Bar, Sports Book and Enticing Games

For a small, boutique hotel, The Cromwell has made some big moves recently.

To start, The Cromwell unveiled a new snack bar, Eatwell.

Cromwell Eatwell

Eatwell at Cromwell. If you want to self-park, it’ll have to be at the Flamingowell.

Eatwell is open 24 hours a day, and has a variety of grab-and-go goodies like sandwiches, pastries, salads and pizzas.

We went for a sandwich, mainly because sandwiches are a metaphor for love. Or something.

Eatwell at Cromwell

One cannot live by cavorting alone, even in Vegas.

We’re pleased to report the food quality is solid at Eatwell, and the prices are reasonable.

Here’s a peek at the Eatwell menu.

Cromwell Eatwell menu

If you actually read the “Healthy Alternatives” section, we can’t be friends.

We have no idea what these things on the ceiling are, but we are a blog, not a snack bar design firm.

Cromwell Eatwell

We’re pretty sure you can become pregnant just walking under these.

Caffeine fans will rejoice in the knowledge Eatwell offers a full selection of Starbucks coffees.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of some cookies.

Cromwell Eatwell cookies

Don’t think of them as cookies. Think of them as fuel for your bad Las Vegas decisions.

The Cromwell has also opened a new race and sports book.

We have never personally understood why they’re called race and sports books. A race is a sport. If you’re going to call it a race and sports book, you could just as easily call it a game and sports book, or possibly a match and sports book.

Cromwell sports book

It’s not the size of the sports book that counts, it’s whether you cover the spread.

The new sports book at Cromwell has a tiny footprint, but sports books aren’t huge moneymakers for casinos, so the size is proportionate given the limited footprint of the resort.

The Cromwell used to be Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, and before that it was Barbary Coast and Empey’s Desert Villa. Prior to that, it was a small collection of tumbleweeds.

The new sports book can accommodate about 50 people or 75 if they all inhale at the same time.

The Cromwell sports book boasts a 32-foot-long, nine-foot-tall LED video wall.

Beyond these sweet new amenities, The Cromwell has made a serious play to attract gamblers.

Among the new offerings is a single zero roulette table. Single zero roulette, also known as “European roulette,” is often reserved for high limit rooms, but Cromwell has a table on its main casino floor.

Because photos aren’t allowed at live games, we won’t be able to share the photo below.

Cromwell single zero roulette

The house edge in a single zero roulette game is 2.7%. With two zeros, it’s 5.26%.

Unlike double zero roulette games, the minimum bet on the single zero game is $25. Better odds, higher minimums. In Vegas, that’s a thing.

On the other end of the spectrum, Venetian has a $5 roulette table with three zeros. We are not making this up. Remember, the more zeros, the more suck for players.

In addition to single zero roulette, Cromwell also offers 100x odds on craps.

Nobody ever actually takes advantage of 100x odds, but it’s great to know you could if you inherited money from a rich uncle. Possibly, one named Sheldon.

Cromwell casino

Thanks to the good folks at The Cromwell for not asking security to give us The Taser Experience during the taking of these photos.

But wait, there’s more.

The Cromwell is also touting its EZ Baccarat. We’re pretty sure we played EZ Baccarat at Lucky Dragon, and it was, as promised, easy. One benefit of this version of baccarat is it “eliminates the taking of the 5% commission after every winning Bank hand.” Whatever that might actually mean.

Also being talked up are The Cromwell’s 3-to-2 and double deck blackjack games.

During our visit, we saw three open 3-to-2 double deck blackjack tables, two with $25 minimums and one at $15. Shoe games had minimums ranging from $10 to $25.

The Cromwell also lists among its new “enhancements” a “re-imagined” Interlude bar (if you’re not a fan of live music, this is a great place to not be a fan of it), a new high limit slot area called The Abbey, and keyless access to hotel rooms.

Cromwell casino bar

Our liver breaks into song whenever it sees Cromwell’s casino bar.

There’s also Ivy, a “personalized virtual concierge service” provided via text, developed by a company called Go Moment. It’s sort of a bot that can field questions and requests related to housekeeping and room service. Such services are mainly a way for hotels to save money and cut down on call volume, but Ivy has gotten generally good reviews since the most common guest requests can be resolved more efficiently through automation. Fewer and fewer Las Vegas hotels have real concierges, anyway.

With its recent changes, The Cromwell has certainly gotten the attention of players, and despite ongoing challenges with unsavory elements at Drai’s Nightclub on the roof, the boutique hotel is drawing new interest from visitors seeking a welcoming environment with friendly service and odds you won’t find in many casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Enjoy more poorly-framed and inadequately-focused photos from The Cromwell.

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11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating

About 20 minutes after dice were invented, fashioned from the ankle bones of hooved animals, somebody cheated using dice.

The tradition of trying to swindle casinos continues to this day, so casinos take extraordinary measures to prevent players from cheating, especially at the craps table.

Because players handle and shoot the dice, craps is the only casino game where patrons have complete control over the outcome of a wager. In other cases, it’s a machine or wheel or dealer. Dice, then, are an easy target for cheaters.

Here are 11 hastily slapped-together dice security measures casinos take to ensure players don’t cheat and every roll is random.

1. Serial Numbers

Swapping out legitimate dice with weighted or “loaded” dice is a time-honored tradition in Las Vegas casinos. To avoid “crooked” dice entering a game, casino dice have serial numbers. Typically, casino dice come in packs of five, wrapped in gold foil, each with matching serial numbers. If a casino staffer sees two dice in play with two different serial numbers, the cheater’s jig is up.

Dice serial number

Casino dice come in groups of five, much like Hugh Hefner.

2. Sharp Corners

The next time you use dice on a board game at home, take note of the corners. Most dice outside casinos have rounded corners, but in casinos, they’re sharp. Rounded corners cause rolls that aren’t truly random, and exaggerate any bias in the dice. Sharp corners “grab” the felt and assure rolls are random and keep the odds the way casinos like them, in their favor.

Dice square corners

Curved corner, amateur hour. Sharp corner, all business.

3. Glow Spots

Some casinos use dice that have spots, also called “pips,” filled with special epoxy that changes color under U.V. light. Floor managers can quickly tell if dice are legit using a simple black light.

Dice glow spot

Shout-out to Bruce Leroy.

4. Translucency

Before the advent of plastics, it was difficult to tell if dice were weighted, or “gaffed.” Since the 1950s, dice have been made of cellulose acetate, making them translucent. Being able to see inside a die makes it much easier to see if anyone’s mucked with it.

Dice key letter spot

We’ll get to the “K” in a minute. Always in such a rush.

5. Key Letter Spot

This is one of our favorite casino dice “secrets,” because while we’ve held hundreds of dice at craps tables in Las Vegas and around the world, we never noticed this security measure despite the fact it’s in plain sight. Each casino die has a letter or number “monogrammed” on a designated spot before the spot is painted. While scammers may be able to replicate the exterior of a die, it’s difficult to convincingly fake a letter under pip paint. Check it out the next time you’re shooting for “boxcars” or “puppy paws.” Yes, there are a lot of nicknames for dice combinations.

Dice key letter spot

You’re totally going to win a bar bet with this one someday.

6. Casino Logos

Yes, imprinting a casino’s logo on dice is actually a security measure. On its own, putting a logo on dice is fairly easy to do, but this “unique identifier” is another element a cheater has to take into account, and another way they can get tripped up trying to use counterfeit dice.

Dice logos

Logos are typically printed on the side of the dice with one or two spots, because there’s more room. This isn’t rocket science.

7. Diamond Rubber Bumpers

This security measure is more about the table than the dice, but we’re including it, anyway. They have lots of names, but along the sides of a craps table are textured bumps, sometimes called “diamond rubber bumpers” or “pyramid bumpers” or even “alligator bumpers.” These textured bumpers make it much more difficult to manipulate how the dice will land.

Craps pyramids

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

8. Change-Outs

Casinos foil cheaters through a variety of means, including frequently changing out dice, just as they do with cards at the blackjack table. As mentioned, the randomness of rolls can be impacted by things like edges and corners becoming less sharp through use. Fresh dice are brought into a craps game every four to eight hours, often during a shift change. Casinos have the right to change out dice at any time, however. This sometimes happens during hot rolls, as casinos want to ensure a player’s good luck isn’t the result of dice tampering.

Dice

Casinos are paranoid about dice cheats, so always keep dice over the table and only use one hand to shake them before you shoot.

9. Perfect Cubes

There’s a reason casino dice are also called “precision dice.” That’s because casino dice are made to exacting specifications. Most casinos use 3/4-inch dice, and each of the die’s dimensions must be true to within 0.0005 of an inch, or approximately the length of this blog’s sexual organ. Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

Precision dice

Perfect cubes, of course, aren’t “perfect.” For example, some mistakenly believe Chicago-style pizza is actual pizza.

10. Pip Drilling and Backfilling

Even tiny variations in a die can cause it to roll in a less random way. Pips aren’t just painted in casino dice, they’re drilled. To make sure the side of the die with six pips doesn’t weigh more than the side with just one, the drilled holes are filled with a special paint that’s the same density as the rest of the die. Oh, all right, maybe there’s a little rocket science involved.

Dice pips drilling filling

Drilled Pips and The Backfillers were a terrific folk group in the 1970s.

11. Cancellation

When dice are removed from a table, casinos use a hand-operated press (or “punch”) to “cancel” the dice before they’re destroyed or sold in the casino’s gift shop. Cancellation markings, commonly in the shape of circle, make it easy for casino security, dealers and managers to see if a “retired” die has been put into play by an unscrupulous player.

Dice canceled

While Las Vegas casinos get away with this cancellation mark, Atlantic City casinos must drill a hole in canceled dice. Typically, it’s done by a guy nicknamed “Knuckles.” All due respect.

Craps is one of the most exciting games in a Las Vegas casino. Now, the next time you play, you’ll know all the dice security measures casinos take to keep players from cheating.

By the way, cheating in a Las Vegas casino is a felony. You have better things to do during your Las Vegas visit than going to the big house and being passed around like a social security number at a hacker convention.

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Golden Gate Casino Unveils Multi-Million Dollar Expansion

Downtown’s Golden Gate has revealed an expansion that nearly doubles the size of its casino floor, including the addition of about 100 new slot machines.

Golden Gate’s expansion encompasses the space formerly occupied by the La Bayou casino and an alley. You’ll want to see our “before” photos of the construction, of course.

Golden Gate casino

Three’s nothing quite like that new slot machine smell.

The centerpiece of the multi-million dollar expansion is a 24-foot tall fountain of TVs around a spiral chandelier.

Golden Gate expansion

Universal remote, much?

The TV fountain is made all the more dramatic by 468 mirrors lining a arced wall that frames the decorative piece. Yes, we asked. And, yes, we know we have issues.

The tower of televisions sits just inside a brand new entrance to the Golden Gate.

The Golden Gate’s expansion includes a new loyalty club desk.

Golden Gate loyalty desk

The loyalty desk was previously tucked away near the hotel’s registration desk. Now, it’s front and center. By the way, 1906 is the year the hotel opened, originally as Hotel Nevada. Technically, the Miller Hotel. Long story.

The previous loyalty club desk has vanished through some kind of Las Vegas magic.

Golden Gate casino

“Las Vegas magic” is, technically, redundant.

Golden Gate’s interior design was done by Dez Motif, the architecture by Moser Architecture Studio.

The Golden Gate took the opportunity during its expansion to entirely replace and upgrade its sound system throughout the existing casino.

A good deal of the expansion won’t be readily visible to guests. On the casino’s second floor, a new beer distribution room is a sight to behold.

Golden Gate beer room

Golden Gate’s new beer chilling room distributes suds to the casino’s Prohibition Bar, as well as the casino’s outdoor bars, now with the help of gravity.

Still in the works is an upgraded outdoor bar, One Bar. When completed, the bar will be 20 feet longer. Translation: More slushy drinks for us.

Golden Gate casino

You can never have too much bar. It’s Vegas.

While the new casino area at Golden Gate made its debut on Aug. 25, 2017, the expansion’s official opening takes place Sep. 1, 2017, with the requisite hoopla.

Golden Gate has done a great job of creating a new space that feels modern (so many TVs), but which stays true to its old-school roots (dark wood and marble).

When you check it out, let us know what you think. We’ll be at the end of Prohibition Bar, not noticing the dancing dealers. At all.

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Golden Gate Expansion Nears Completion, Here’s a First Peek Inside

Golden Gate’s expansion is in the home stretch, and we’ve got an exclusive look inside.

Golden Gate expansion

Dead center is where the 24-foot tower of televisions will be. No, we haven’t talked about that yet. We don’t live by society’s rules.

The expansion has been months in the making as Golden Gate has moved into the footprint of the former La Bayou casino.

The additional space will nearly double the size of Golden Gate’s casino floor, adding about 100 slot machines.

Golden Gate will close temporarily on Aug. 20, 2017 to complete the build-out, and the new space will officially debut on Aug. 25.

If you know anything about this blog, you know we’re not real big on waiting for things to “officially debut,” so we had to do a security breach, while adhering to all applicable laws, ordinances and safety regulations, of course.

Golden Gate expansion

We love that new slot machine smell.

During the closure, virtually the entire east wall of Golden Gate’s existing casino will come down to connect the new and old spaces.

A highlight of Golden Gate’s expansion will be a 24-foot tower of TVs, surrounded by hundreds of beveled mirrors.

The television “fountain” will sit inside a new entrance to the casino, with marble flooring and velvet drapes.

The opening of the new casino area and entrance will coincide with an expansion of the casino’s lucrative outdoor bar, One Bar. The bar will expand 20 feet.

Golden Gate expansion

There are fewer words in the English language we love more than “more bar.”

Another big change at Golden Gate will be the relocation of the casino’s loyalty club desk. To complete the finishing touches of the loyalty club and casino expansion, it’s rumored crews will work 108 hours straight during the casino closure to meet the Aug. 25 debut date.

We’re exhausted just typing that sentence.

Golden Gate loyalty club

This is where they’re going to keep the loyalty.

To celebrate the debut of the casino expansion, owners Derek and Greg Stevens will host a free concert by Better Than Ezra on Sep. 3 at 9:00 p.m. The concert is a late addition to the free summer concert series put on by Fremont Street Experience (where we work as our day gig in digital marketing).

Golden Gate has made the most of a fairly modest space, and the casino interior already gives off a welcoming vibe with its mix of modern and classic design elements, including dark wood accents we sort of want to rub our various body parts up against for some reason.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate opened in 1906. Back in those days, slot machines paid jackpots in cobwebs.

The new space is already filling up with shiny new slot machines (no classics from the Riviera here), many of which were too tall to put in other areas of the casino due to the classic casino’s low ceilings.

Golden Gate’s expansion is a great excuse to stop by during your next visit, and make sure to check out the demolition site just across Fremont Street while you’re there.

Here’s a little-known fact related to Golden Gate: The hotel was home to the first telephone in Las Vegas (the phone number was “1”), but that’s not the little known fact. The little-known fact is about who got the second telephone in Las Vegas. Any guesses?

We’ll wait.

You’re going to love this.

Golden Gate (originally called Hotel Nevada) was owned by John F. Miller. The second telephone in Las Vegas was installed in his home, at the behest of Miller’s wife, Rosa. Who else do you think he’d call with the city’s first phone? Now you know!

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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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