Seven Stars Insider – September Edition

Maroon 5 Total Rewards Concert
Maroon 5 at Total Rewards Concert

Here are highlights from the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider. As always it has lots of information, especially for the Atlantic City players. This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Caesars Total Rewards players. It’s still long but full of information. Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.

NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars cardholders, 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 at http://www.sevenstarsinsider.com.

LAS VEGAS

‘Book Me On The Next Flight To LAS!’
Once again Caesars marketing folks have outdone themselves in the “dumb offers” department. Why would they offer complimentary accommodations and show tickets as a special incentive to travel to Las Vegas when, as a Seven Stars cardholder, I’m entitled to these benefits anyway?

LAUGHLIN

‘Toys’ Aren’t Us
Justifying the request by citing the increasing popularity of bachelor and bachelorette parties, inspired perhaps by such films as “The Hangover”, Caesars has petitioned Clark County to allow casino gift shops to sell a limited inventory of sex toys and other “marital aids”. However, members of the Laughlin Town Advisory sent a strong message to county commissioners by voting to deny the request. The issue will go before the Board of County Commissioners on September 18.

ATLANTIC CITY

Dream On
The fourth – and final – planned installment of the popular nightly light show at Boardwalk Hall is now on display. Titled “AC Dreamin’”, it features two people who, after taking a train ride to Atlantic City, discover a variety of things the city has to offer. It features the same assortment of animation, music, video and 3-D lighting as the three other shows that have been produced over the past year, but this time there is a story with people and narration. In the eight-minute video the two people stay in a luxurious hotel, enjoy rides and games on the Boardwalk, and observe an underwater beach.

Go East, Young Man
The “mystery man” I chose not to identify last month is Rick Mazer, a top Las Vegas gambling executive, who started his career 30 years ago as a craps dealer. According to several published reports, in a filing last month with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Mazer applied for licensing as a key employee, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Resort.

In addition, Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson said Mazer will oversee the $125.8 million convention center expansion at Harrah’s and the company’s proposed $1 billion hotel-casino development Suffolk Downs Race Track in East Boston, Mass. He comes to Atlantic City after serving as president of Harrah’s, Flamingo and The Quad in Las Vegas, as well as overseeing the $550 million Linq project that will include retail shops, restaurants and a 550-foot “High Roller” observation wheel. Prior to his Las Vegas tenure, Mazer was general manager of the Horseshoe Hammond in Indiana.

No word on what role, if any, Mazer will have in the management of Bally’s, Caesars and Showboat, as well as Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, Pa.

Was It Something I Said?
The Boardwalk Buffet at Caesars will close September 16 for much needed improvements. In the meantime, those who crave a breakfast buffet will have to settle for the tasteless, rubbery pre-made omelets, greasy bacon and other abominations at Café Roma.

PHILADELPHIA

Get Into The Kitchen
If you’re in the Philadelphia area – or plan to travel there, Harrah’s has a unique venue to hold your annual Seven Stars celebration dinner. Its Chef’s Table in the kitchen at The Cove will dazzle you and your guests, and make the evening a truly special occasion.

The Chef’s Table can accommodate up to 10 people, and the menu can be tailored just about any way you want. Do you prefer an Asian or Italian-themed meal? No problem. Have a certain budget in mind? They’ll work with you. Have a particular entrée in mind? Chef Erick will prepare it to your specifications. Want to just order off the regular menu, but watch how your meal is prepared? Done!

If you’ve never witnessed a professional restaurant kitchen in action – short of “Top Chef” or one of those television reality shows – this is your opportunity.

You just need to give them advance notice so they can work out the menu and other details with you. Contact your host to get things started.

Special Seven Stars Benefits
Harrah’s knows how to treat its Seven Stars
cardholders:

  •  Look for the special Seven Stars-only cashier at the main cage. You can’t miss the sign over the entrance to two dedicated windows. You may have to ring the bell to get some service because they’re not always staffed, but, while you’re waiting, you can always enjoy a delicious piece of wrapped chocolate with the Seven Stars logo. You might even want to slip a couple pieces of the delicious morsels in your pocket – just don’t forget or you’ll find a gooey mess once you return home. Yep, I’ll admit it, I did just that! What a mess!
  • To check into the Diamond Lounge, look for the dedicated path leading to the desk where you’ll be the next person called if there’s a line. (I’ve heard staff members warning of up to 45-minute – or longer – waits to get in on a busy weekend night.) Someone also comes to greet and escort you to special reserved tables by the windows overlooking the racetrack.
  • The Seven Stars Happy Hour is still held on Fridays, but the time has changed. It’s now from 5 to 7 p.m. in the lounge at the Cove. In addition to complimentary cocktails for the Seven Stars cardholder and a guest, passed hors d’ouevre are served.

AND IN OTHER INSIDER NEWS. . . .

Love Boat
With few exceptions, nearly everyone I heard from raved about their Signature Experience cruise to Bermuda last month. There was some minor quibbling about an overly crowded cocktail reception at the hotel in New York the night before the cruise, but, overall, it sounds like Caesars earned its “A+” on this one. A second and third cruise have been scheduled for this month and next, respectively.

Getting To Know You – Part One
If there is one question I get most often, it’s: “Why can’t casinos better tailor their offers to my schedule?”

Players frequently complain that their mailboxes are filled with offers of free food and bonus slot play, but they’re valid on days when they never travel to their favorite casinos. “I get offers for $50 in food and $150 in free play all the time, but they’re good only Monday through Thursday,” one person told me. “Can’t they tell by my play that I only travel here on weekends? It’s like they know I can’t use these offers, but they think I’ll be impressed just by receiving them. Guess what? It just angers me and makes me
want to play someplace else.”

Getting To Know You – Part Two
Speaking of tailoring offers to customers, one Seven Stars cardholder sent me his offer of a comp room in Atlantic City, as well as the chance to convert Reward Credits into free slot play. “Considering that, with 48 hours’ notice, I’m supposed to be able to get comp rooms anywhere – OK, I know there are some exceptions – why can’t my mailer from Harrah’s Resort recognize my Seven Stars status and include some other sort of promotion or ad?” he writes. “Also, as a Seven Stars cardholder I’m supposed to be able to convert my Reward Credits for slot play at a discount – $5 for 675 Reward Credits (a ‘retail value’ of $6.75), yet my mailer is telling me it’s $5 for 1,000 credits (a ‘retail value’ of $10’).”

Door Stop
Companion cardholders who have access to a Diamond Lounge based on their own play should show their Diamond cards when they check-in. I’ve heard several reports of players being embarrassed when they were told they couldn’t bring a guest into the lounge. The person at the door just didn’t pay attention and assumed that these Companion cardholders weren’t eligible for entry based on their own play.

Gifts That Keep On Giving
How many more sets of luggage, pots and pans, or manufacturers’ close-outs do we really need? Last month, for example, Bally’s and Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City gave out pancake makers and breakfast sandwich makers. Do any of us really need these? I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to reduce clutter in my kitchen. If the casinos are going to continue to dole out gifts, how about something useful like the ubiquitous gas cards or Visa gift cards?

At least these don’t have to be shipped across country, warehoused and delivered to ballrooms for distribution – and then schlepped home by us. Code Green, anyone?

Hold On
Apparently no one from Total Rewards has been subjected to the monotonous – and out-of-date – “on hold” message you get while you’re waiting to make a reservation or calling with a question. For approximately three minutes – and then it repeats – you hear blurbs about Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City, Tunica, etc., as well as the newest addition to Total Rewards, Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati “which will open this spring”

Survey Says. . .
Last month I asked you whether you preferred attending city- or casino-specific events open to all Seven Stars cardholders, e.g., the events in 2012 held in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, or having your choice of several different types of events. The responses fell into two categories: those who were able to reserve space on the August cruise to Bermuda and those who didn’t. Those who went on the cruise hope another one is scheduled next year, not only because they really enjoyed themselves, but because they also felt the entire package had a much greater monetary value than any of the other choices. The rest preferred the types of weekend events which were held in the past.

This Month’s Survey
My guess is that the staff at Total Rewards is already working on the details of next year’s Seven Stars (and Diamond and Platinum) program, hopefully tweaking some rules and considering suggestions from its many surveys. Here is a portion of my “wish list”:

  • For the annual retreat and Level I Signature Experience, allow the $500 folio credit to be used for food and beverage, as well as other charges such as spa treatments, in-house show tickets, etc. Many of us travel alone and cannot possibly use that amount of money on meals. Plus, if you’re staying at a casino that does not allow Reward Credits to be used for alcoholic beverages, or you don’t drink alcoholic beverages, that makes it all the more difficult to spend the $500.
  • Offer an option or some sort of alternative for those who don’t like to travel or travel by air. The annual retreat and the Level I Signature Experience each currently includes up to a $1,200 airfare reimbursement. While I know that concessions have been made “privately” for some customers, why not codify this “officially” with some alternatives that might include a mileage reimbursement for those who prefer to drive or offer some variation of the popular “stay-cation” where someone can choose a retreat at his/her “home” casino and get the transportation credit in the form of free play or a gift card?
  • For those who are comfortable making their own travel arrangements, let us skip the “middleman” [a casino host] and make our own travel arrangements with Passport? And, while you’re at it, waive that $10 per ticket charge that Passport imposes. After all, you’re forcing us to use Caesars own travel agency, then you take $10 per ticket off whatever amount you’re giving us as a reward for our play.
  • Don’t force us to have that one-time $500 celebration dinner. Many of us have a difficult time organizing a group for dinner, or don’t live near a local casino where we can invite our friends and family to dine. Just add extra Reward Credits to our account, and let us spend them as we choose.
  • We all have different “needs” and tastes, so offer free play or a gift card as one of the options for the annual gift. I know you’re trying to give Seven Stars cardholders a variety of benefits, e.g., a trip, a dinner, a gift, etc., but, at this stage in our lives, most of have just about everything we want or have the ability to purchase it.

I could go on and on, but I’d like to hear from you. What changes would you make to the 2014-2015 Seven Stars program? Send me an email and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

 

Hooters, Golden Nugget and Terribles Get New

People often ask for cheap places to stay in Las Vegas and I like to send people to hotels with new and clean hotel rooms first and formost. After new and clean rooms I look to the casino and then other amenities since that’s how I roll. In the past couple weeks a few non-major hotel & casino renovations have been announced. Here’s the rundown.

Golden Nugget Hotel Room

Golden Nugget – I don’t go inside this building anymore after too many bad gambling losses. That said, the Golden Nugget is probably the nicest, most luxurious, hotel in downtown Vegas. Golden Nugget room rates are easily the most expensive downtown and are comparable to hotel room rates on the Vegas strip. That’s how the Golden Nugget can pay for the Rush Tower, which opened just 4 years ago, to get new rooms called the Gold Club. I’m biased but I’d save my money downtown and get a remodeled room at the D, Golden Gate, Fremont or Plaza. You can find more renderings and details on the Gold Club hotel rooms at Vegas News.

Cantor Gaming Rumored To Take Over Caesars Sportsbooks (again)

The rumors about Cantor Gaming taking over Caesars Entertainment sportsbooks are out there again. This rumor has been around for over a year. After all, it takes a while for such large companies to turn the battleship negotiate a deal.

This is just a tweet from a source I don’t know, but I’ve been following this since the initial rumor and everyone I’ve spoken to thinks that this a) makes sense and b) is inevitable.

Caesars has been partnering with more companies then ever before and this is a natural partner. This is low-risk for Caesars Entertainment since sportsbooks only produce about 1% of gaming revenue for casinos and potentially improves infrastructure in their casinos.

January 1 allows Cantor Gaming some time to set up operations in the sportsbooks throughout Nevada in time for the Super Bowl. Remember, Caesars has properties in Laughlin, Reno and Lake Tahoe in addition to Las Vegas.

If the rumor is true this time we should expect an announcement later this year and construction to begin on a new Caesars Palace sportsbook. If they can replicate the beautiful Venetian sportsbook, Caesars Palace will have a beautiful new centerpiece for their casino at little cost.

I’m looking forward for this deal to become official so I can dig a little deeper.

Rockin at Rampart Casino

It’s true, last week I was rockin at Rampart Casino. I’m a fairly regimented person. When I find something I like, I go there pretty often. Generally, I’m not the exploring type. I actually plan my exploration, like I did with my trip to Laughlin that I detailed on Vegas Chatter.

Well that pattern took a slight change last week. I needed to take in a beautiful day and decided to grab a smoothie and explore the Vegas burbs (Summerlin) until I finished my smoothie. Besides finding about 5 different golf courses and a road that just stopped being created (pics soon) I drove by Rampart Casino.

Rampart Casino is next to Suncoast Casino and north of where I live. I rarely head that way, so I never think to go there. When I was was exploring local casinos I didn’t consider it since it’s not associated with any casinos near the strip like Station Casinos (Red Rock Casino) or Boyd Gaming casinos (Suncoast).

After driving by Rampart Casino, I decided I’d check it out another day. Why not? It’s close even if it’s not a direction I normall travel. That night I looked at vpFREE to see what kind of  video poker games they have. They had 10 play nickel 9/6 Jacks or Better. I’ve never seen that before and although there’s not much money making, but there’s little at risk.

While checking out a new casino I always drop a little in a machine or table to see what kind of offers I get. I thought maybe I could get a Royal Flush in honor of Denver Gambler’s quest (#royalflush2012) for one since I’m playing 10 games at once. Good times for all. As you can see from the image above and video below, I got a Royal Flush!

I actually changed from Jacks or Better to Bonus Poker but I got the Royal Flush! As you might expect, 4,000 nickels is not nearly as awesome as $1’s, but I’ll happily take it! That $200 will pay for all the smoothies I can handle. Haha.

My venture to Rampart was more to get a vibe of the casino. The outside is very old and classy looking. I thought the inside may be the same. The decor at Rampart Casino is somewhere between 1920’s and 1980’s. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose, but the casino reminded me of some of my favorite New York City classic steakhouses. Comfortable, but not modern.

The casino itself is tiny, but not much smaller than the other casinos in the area. There is a lot of video poker throughout the casino. There are games I’ve never seen, which is always fun. There are new and older slots and there were lot of people.

I’d say 98% of the people I saw at Rampart Casino were over 60 years old and smoking about 40% of those people had walkers and/or oxygen tanks. Rampart Casino felt like the Atlantic City casino where people go to die…and I liked it.

Even though the place was overly smokey, everyone was nice and many of the people playing knew each other from the area. Everyone was having a good time and in turn I was having a good time. The smoke was so bad that I had to throw my clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower when I came home from (no joke) but I enjoyed my visit to Rampart Casino.

I don’t see Rampart Casino replacing Red Rock casino as my local casino, but it’s a nice alternative. If it wasn’t for the fun video poker games (full pay 10 play and below) that I won’t find anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t return. That said, I’ll be back at Rampart Casino when I’m bored and need a video poker fix.

My CES 2011 Predictions Are Coming True

My CES predictions for casinos from 2011 are all coming true!

  1. Tablets
  2. 3D Slot Machines
  3. Walking GPS 

First, tablets of all sizes are being used in casinos across the Las Vegas strip and beyond. Even Laughlin, NV is using tablets for drink orders. Last year Flamingo installed interactive touch screens in the casino that allow you to view maps, your Total Rewards account and more. You’ll even see tablets when you check in to Cosmopolitan.

While true 3D slot machines with glasses haven’t hit the casinos yet, the game makers are stretching technology as far as they can to give a 3D feel. Wether it’s moving seats or a 3D type screen layover things are getting closer to 3D.

At CES this year, Google introduced Google Walking Maps which I thought would come to fruition later than sooner (as walking GPS). Thanks to Android phones, they’re coming much sooner. While there is still a way to go with the GPS technology, take a look at the quick video Google made for exploring Vegas casinos. (Update: As Hunter from Rate Vegas points out, “GPS has nothing to do with indoor location tech” although the technology may be similar.)

I didn’t make CES this year and it doesn’t seem as if I missed much. I guess we’ll find out next year. For now I can revel in having spot on predictions at CES last year.