Seven Stars Insider – February 2011 Edition

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider.  This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Harrah’s players.  Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.  There is a lot of information in this edition, so read on for all the goods.

Seven Stars Insider – February 2011

NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars members, there is useful information for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Caesars property.  Please feel free to pass this on to your friends.  Back issues of the Seven Stars Insider newsletter are available online.

Making The Most Out Of Your NCL Cruise Experience
Although not part of the Total Rewards program, be sure to sign up for a player’s card once on board.  Like Total Rewards, the cards will give you free drinks and points for cashback.  Also, be sure to meet with a casino host.  While I’ve not experienced an NCL cruise personally, I understand the casino hosts are very friendly and take good care of their customers.  At the end of the cruise, one reader wrote that the points earned though his play knocked $500 off his total bill – likely three or four times the value of the points.  In addition, “They had a couple of promotions, a slot tournament, a blackjack tournament, and hot snacks one or two nights,” he wrote.  And while you can apply for a credit line from the casino before you travel, they also offer an interesting option for cash:  You can draw a couple thousand dollars a day against the credit card you have on file for cruise expenses (subject to your credit card limits, of course).  Anyone else have tips to share?

Bally’s Bathroom Robbery
A man from Virginia was beaten and robbed in a bathroom just off the casino floor at Bally’s Atlantic City around 6 a.m. January 21.  The suspect followed the man and, once in the bathroom, police say the robber grabbed the victim from behind and slammed his head into the wall, nearly knocking him unconscious.  The victim fell to the floor where he was punched several more times before $100 was stolen from his pockets.  The attacker then got away; the victim was taken to the hospital with injuries to his head, nose and face.

C-Bar Opens At Harrah’s Chester
Described on the Web site as a “sleek ultra lounge situated in the center of the table games action on the casino floor,” C-Bar also features “flair bartending”.  It’s open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., and on Sunday from noon to 2 a.m.

Cherokee Parking Deck Opens
A new casino parking deck with direct access to the casino has opened at Harrah’s Cherokee.

Rio’s Hamada of Japan Closes
While its Flamingo location remains open, Hamada of Japan has closed its Rio restaurant.

Player’s Card Security Risk?
Casino companies may not be the only ones keeping track of how many points you have on your player’s card.  The cards represent a growing number of fraud cases in Las Vegas, as hackers target the programs and casinos’ customer databases in an effort to gain access to customers’ personal information or steal points, gaming regulators and security analysts claim.  “We are investigating several cases at the moment,” said Jerry Markling, chief of the enforcement division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board in Carson City.  “We’ve been seeing a lot of cases involving player’s club programs and the stealing of points.”  “Nevada has some very strict laws in place regarding customer confidentiality,” said Rob Meyne, vice president of corporate communications with Boyd Gaming Corp.  “In addition, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has recently reminded licensees that they are responsible for maintaining security of customer databases.”  Other casino companies declined to comment on the issue.  The security threat doesn’t just involve player cards, either.  Nevada gaming officials and security analysts said casinos’ smart phone applications – which require users to provide personal information that is stored in casino databases – are also a concern.  Hackers are attempting to hack into these databases to gain access to credit card or debit card information, or banking and other financial information.

Margaritaville To Open In Biloxi – But Not By Caesars
The Jimmy Buffett-backed Margaritaville Casino has new life, but the site has changed, and it won’t be owned or managed by Caesars.  Planners said it will move from across the street from the Grand Casino, Hotel and Spa to the Back Bay of Biloxi.  They hope to have all the paperwork and license approvals so the proposed 68,000-square-foot, $48 million Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant will open by year’s end.  The master plan for Margaritaville includes shops, a casino, restaurants, an events center and a marina.  In 2007, Buffett and Harrah’s Entertainment, now Caesars Entertainment, announced plans to build a $700 million casino on the beach.  That resort was scheduled to open last year, but now sits unfinished after Harrah’s stopped construction in 2008.  “We are disappointed that our project with Margaritaville will not proceed,” said John Payne, Caesars Entertainment central division president.  “We will continue to explore opportunities that will allow us to enhance our resort.”

Caesars Employees Benefit From Non-Cash Reward System
The next time you commend a Caesars employee or respond favorably to a survey, you may be giving those employees a new blender or a free vacation.  Caesars Entertainment Corp. has replaced its cash-based rewards system with a non-cash reward system.  Referred to as the Total Return program, the new initiative – theoretically – empowers employees and motivates them to perform.  While employees work toward improving the customer experience, they earn credits in a variety of ways, including customer service surveys, safety, customer compliments and community service.

Palms Acquisition
Published reports are claiming that Caesars Entertainment is expressing an interest in acquiring the the Palms Casino, across the street from Rio.

Free Stay At Atlantis, Paradise Island
Seven Stars cardholders may be able to get three free nights at Atlantis, Paradise Island, now through March 29, 2011.  While the promotion is aimed at those with “premium cards” from Atlantic City casinos, a Seven Stars card has no specific casino associated with it, so I should think nearly anyone would qualify.  Reservations must be made through Casino VIP Services to qualify for this promotion.  Call (800)-PLAY-711 [(800) 752-9711] and mention “AC Billboard Promo”.  Reservations through any other source will not qualify.  Your stay must be booked by March 29, 2011, for travel through March 29, 2011.  Details here .  [Note: Diamond cardholders may qualify for a more limited offer, so check the Web site for details.]

Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon Offers Free Grub
Show your Seven Stars card at the Victorian Café and you and your party eat free!  There doesn’t seem to be any dollar limit, and you order off the regular menu.  Bill’s is located across from Caesars Palace and next to the Flamingo.  As always, because policies can change on a moment’s notice, be sure to confirm this offer with the host/hostess before being seated – and remember to tip accordingly!  Bill’s is owned by Caesars Entertainment and considered a “casino partner”, but does not participate in the Total Rewards program.

Harrah’s 15X Promo Fizzles. . .Then Redeems Itself
Invited players at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City had a special incentive to play there on New Year’s Day:  a mystery multiplier – 3X, 6X or 12X.  But, when some players swiped their cards, the kiosk indicated they would be receiving 15X Reward Credits that day!   What they didn’t know was that the kiosks had malfunctioned and the 15X was a “mistake.”  Cardholders had to re-swipe to see what we were really getting.  Some folks, who were guaranteed 11X points at Showboat and Bally’s that day, had stayed at Harrah’s since they thought they were getting 15X and had played for a few hours before they learned the bad news.  Complaints to the Total Rewards Desk were answered with, “. . .it was a computer glitch” and “they were sorry”.  A week later, though, Harrah’s changed its mind and awarded 12X points (the highest possible multiplier for that day) to all the people who had swiped early in the morning and saw the 15X by mistake. They apologized for the inconvenience and said the bonus points would be dropped into accounts in a week to 10 days.  Good for them!

Restaurant Of The Month
A visit last month to Primavera (Caesars Atlantic City) reminded me that I have yet to experience less than stellar service or a poor quality meal there – ever!  Syggy, our server, has been at Primavera for nearly 30 years; both he and his team provided discreet, efficient service that complemented the excellent food.  In addition, Primavera, as well as a number of Atlantic City casino restaurants operated by the four Caesars properties there, offers half-price bottles of wine from Sunday through Thursday.  Check with your restaurant for details and to be sure the promotion is still available. Kudos, too, to Michael, the manager, for his warm welcome.

Question Of The Month
I haven’t been to Las Vegas in 10 years, but I’m taking my Seven Stars trip there next month.  Are there any special perks for Seven Stars (other than the “usual” ones like jumping lines, special check-in, etc.)?  If you’re staying at Caesars Palace you can get complimentary coffee and tea every morning after 8 (and a USA Today on weekdays) at Seven Stars Registration in the Augustus Tower.  Even if you’re not staying at Caesars, you and a guest get free admission to Qua, its spa and fitness center.  Bally’s, Flamingo, Harrah’s and Rio will admit you and a guest to their spa and fitness centers, but Paris limits this perk solely to the cardholder.  You can get two free tickets (once a month) for many of the shows at Caesars properties.  Check at the Total Rewards desk for availability.  Then there’s the free food at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon (see above).  Other than that, I can’t think of anything else, but if anybody knows of any perks I’ve missed, send me an e-mail.

Happy New Year’s?
Here’s a sample of some of the comments about New Year’s Eve celebrations around the country at Caesars casinos:

Paris Las Vegas party was an A+!  Awesome food, great service.  My only complaint was that Gloria Gaynor’s watch was slow and they did not show Strip fireworks.

We had dinner at Mia [Caesars Atlantic City].  After that we went over to Harrah’s Resort to see the B.B. King concert.  We got there early, so we went to the Seven Stars Lounge.  They are always so nice; I’ve never had a problem.  Showtime was 10 p.m., but when we got to the entrance we were told it started at 11.  The concert was OK, but B.B. did a lot of talking.  I think the show went from 11 to almost 1 a.m., but he only sang a few songs.  He also forgot about its being the New Year and went over the time.

I agree 100% with your comments about the Caesars [Atlantic City] dinner.  Brunch the next day, though, was great.

New Year’s Eve at Bally’s [Atlantic City] was executed professionally, and was not Seven Stars, but 10 Stars!  Handling in excess of 1,600 guests for the dinner, and in excess of 2,000 for the brunch, it was well-planned, and was a major success.  The food, decorations, pre-assigned seats, the music, the multiple large widescreen monitors in all of their ballrooms on the sixth floor, coupled with excellent security, the dancers, the live remote to New York City for Dick Clark’s traditional “Ball Dropping” combined for a successful feather in the cap of Gerald Beaver, their Food & Beverage Director, and the entire group of employees assigned for this monstrous and challenging task!  Kudos to Bally’s for showing how it can be done right!  We all know how easily it can be done incorrectly.  Congratulations, Bally’s!

New Year’s Eve at Harrah’s Resort [Atlantic City] was fabulous.  The food was excellent and the service was really great too!
As background, we were perennial guests at Caesars for New Year’s and never disappointed.  They always did the best party on the Boardwalk.  There’s no question that when Harrah’s [now Caesars] came into the picture, the event was down scaled a little.  In accepting an invitation from Bally’s for this year’s party, it was with some remiss that we wouldn’t be at Caesars.  Sounds like luck favored us after all.  While the menu was similar to that described for Caesars, it was served up in a timely manner and was extremely satisfying.  (To be fair, I should note that while my steak was beautifully done, most at the table didn’t fare as well.)  The band was top notch, and the wine selection quite acceptable.  The only complaint I might lodge is that they were understaffed (with half the number assigned to our table than in past years).

Seven Stars For Less Than 100,000 Points?
Citing the economy, for the past couple years Harrah’s – now Caesars – renewed this coveted status for several folks who were Seven Stars cardholders, despite the fact they didn’t earn the requisite minimum 100,000 tier points.  [And, I just heard about a Diamond player who was renewed at this level at far less than the current 11,000 point qualifier!]  Has this happened to you or were you offered a card for 2011-12 even though you didn’t earn 100,000 tier points during calendar year 2010?  Send me an e-mail (sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher
Seven Stars Insider