(Note: this column was first published in 11/2016 in Gaming Today)
By the time you read this, Black Friday will be done. Cyber Monday will be done. Never mind that neither is quite what they once were. I picked up some Black Friday items the Monday before Black Friday. It’s only Thursday as I write this and my son and I have been going back and forth about some on-line sales. The point of this column is NOT about how the retailers have completely destroyed their own marketing tool. It is about how everyone gets so hyped up to save a few bucks even if it means getting up at 3 a.m. or leaving the Thanksgiving table to go wait on line for a few hours.
Over the years, I’ve picked up some decent deals by getting up slightly early on Black Friday (back when it was still on a Friday!) I’ve never camped out overnight and I absolutely refuse to climb over people or fight over an item to save a few dollars. I think I can keep my humanity while still saving money. In fact, I think if you simply are fairly diligent throughout the year, you can care a little less about the insanity of Black Friday. Thankfully, the casinos seem to agree with me.
To date, I haven’t seen any of them create a Black Friday environment in the casino. A few of the local ones give out free pies the day before Thanksgiving if you earn a certain number of points. Some have special point promos at some point over the weekend. They know a lot of people are doing other things over this holiday weekend so they put out a few bones to bring people in, but nothing too crazy. Now that I wrote this, I figure next year one of the casinos might try a 14x points on video poker from 5-7 a.m. on the day after Thankgsiving? For the casinos, this might create a RED Friday instead of a Black one.
The casinos give us plenty of opportunities to ‘save’ money the rest of the year. If you’re going to go so nuts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, why wouldn’t you pay attention to the sales the rest of the year? Each month, I get my flyers from the Station Casinos and I map out which days I’m going to play. They want to give me Free Play, I’m there. If I’m in the mood to play longer, I’ll stay longer. If not, I’ll rarely let one of these pass me by. I’ll run in, play my Free Play, take my money and leave.
Some months, they’re giving away free items (sometimes you have to play a certain amount, sometimes it is completely free). If it is something I have no need for, no need to go there. A few months ago they did bottles of vodka. Yeah, that was worth going across the street for (my local Costco is across the street from Red Rock Station). Was it worth playing 300 points worth? Only if I was planning on playing anyways. Now, if the giveaway day is Tuesday and I was planning on going to play on Wednesday, I might change which day I go. But I’m not going to play 300 points worth for a $10 bottle of vodka!
The point behind all this is that casinos essentially run sales on gambling all the time. The fact that the underlying game may be a losing proposition doesn’t change the finances behind it. If you’re not a gambler, then I’m not suggesting you should start. Of course, if you’re not one, you’re probably not reading this column. If you are one, then I simply suggest you take advantage of the offers that are out there for you. You have to also figure out how much a promotion is actually worth to you. A few months ago, they were giving out bottles of wine. I’m not much of a wine drinker (Vodka, on the other hand….). So, this promotion had little value to me. I played one day while they were doing it so I picked it up, figuring I can give it to a friend, but I wouldn’t go play on the giveaway day because of the give away. In that case, it might be more beneficial for me to go on the day they are doing the Free Slot Tournament.
There is no one size fits all on how to navigate the specials. This is a little like Black Friday. If you don’t need a television, then the Best Buy ad is probably not the first one you run too. But if you’re into sports, you might want to check out what Big 5 is doing. Casinos are running promotions all the time. Get your rewards code, give them your e-mail and plot out a strategy just like it’s Cyber Monday!