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"This is the end result of all the bright lights... and the comp trips, of all the champagne... and free hotel suites,
and all the broads and all the booze. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money.
That's the truth about Las Vegas. We're the only winners. The players don't stand a chance. "

-- Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, 1995

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Deceptive Casino Promotion -- Green Valley Ranch

I you live in LV or come here regularly you know that LV casinos offer all kinds of promotions to lure people into the casino.  The goal of course is that by giving away something or winning something in a drawing or contest, the patron will then gamble in the casino.

Green Valley Ranch Resort and Casino (GVR) is running a promotion this July which involves giving away cash at a specific time on Friday and Saturday nights.  Patrons are earn drawing entries in a variety of ways which gets the patron a chance to win a cash prize.  And trust me, these drawings bring people out in force to the casino because you have to be present if your player's card number is drawn.  Two Saturday's ago there was practically no parking at the casino during the drawing time.

My problem with GVR is how this promotion has been, in my opinion, deceptively marketed to the public.  Take a look at this photo of the GVR sign which faces the 215 freeway east/west in both directions.  Just by reading this sign, what do you think this promotion is all about?

So let's assume you just moved to LV or are here visiting.  You see this sign and it looks pretty good, right?

GVR is having cash drawings every Friday and Saturday night at 8:15pm.  They are giving away $1000 dollars to fifty people, correct?  Now the sign does not make clear how many winners there will be each Friday and Saturday night.  Is it 50 winners each night, or is it a total of 50 winners over the two nights?   Let's assume GVR is giving away $1000 cash to 25 people on each night, that's still pretty good.  I might just go over to GVR and see if I can get lucky.  On its surface, this promotion looks pretty meaty.  Yes, there are probably hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of entries in the pool, but 25 people win a $1000 each night so it might be worth shot.  Guess what, if you think GVR is giving 50 people $1000 in any form you are very mistaken.  Also, what's with the $3 million?  I have no clue.

Here's how deceptive GVR is with this promotion:  The casino is actually giving away $1000 dollars to only 5 people each Friday and Saturday night -- 10 people total.  Is this fact noted on the sign?  NO!  So hundreds of people pour into GVR on Friday and Saturday night, but the casino is only awarding 5 cash prizes each night.  So where does GVR come up with 50 people to win $1000?  The sign makes no sense compared to the actual promotion inside the casino.  This is where the real deception is.  Station Casinos (owner/operator) of GVR is giving away a total of $100,000 over Friday and Saturday at each of its 10 (that's 10 total) properties.  So do the math:  10 properties x 5 winners per property x $1000 = $50,000 x 2 night = $100,000. Technically, the sign is not a lie.  Station Casinos is actually giving away $1000 to 50 people on Friday and Saturday -- but just at 10 different properties, not just at GVR.

This marketing is blatantly deceptive because a person can only be at one Station Casino to actually win a prize.  So if you read the sign and think, "wow that's a not bad promotion,"  you will be completely fooled when you go to GVR on either a Friday or Saturday night and they only pick 5 winners total.  Trust me, I was there during a drawing a few weeks ago playing blackjack.  I repeatedly heard from people that they were giving away $1000 to 50 people.   So what the hell I thought, why not take a chance.  I swiped my card in the machine and got 100 free drawing entries.  I went over to the drawing area -- which was packed.  Then they only called out 5 numbers and the drawing was over.  Trust me, I heard plenty of complaining and grumbling from patrons -- and everyone said the same thing:  "I thought they were giving away more winners than just 5 people."

Now, take at look at this photo of a banner in the promotion area inside of GVR and try and figure out what's going here.

OK, the banner says $500,000 in drawing cash.  Then it says 500 total winners guaranteed.  Finally, it says that there are only 5 winners at every drawing.  So, now that you are inside of GVR you finally see that they are only giving away 5 prizes each night, for a total of 10 entries.  What the hell, you already wasted your time for this drawing, why not stay and see if you win.  Of course, you don't win, and then GVR hopes you will then drop some money in their machines or table games.

Now, my confusion with this banner stemmed from the 500 total winners guaranteed.  I actually had to ask a GVR employee about this.  He stated that there are 500 winners -- but they are spread out over the 10 Station Casino properties over a total of 5 weekends.  So do the math.  50 winners each night x 2 = 100, x 5 weekends = 500 winners.  In my opinion, this banner is slightly deceptive (though not as bad as the outside sign).  At first glance it appears that 500 patrons of GVR are the winners, but reality is that it is only 50 over a period of 5 weeks.

I normally have only positive things so say about GVR as I frequent this casino quite often.  However, I think their casino marketing (or Station Casinos) was very deceptive with this promotion.  Personally, I rarely if ever attend a casino drawing, but I think the patrons of GVR whether they be locals or tourists should have a clear understanding of the promotion and drawing.  To "lure" people into a casino by providing them with deceptive or just unclear information regarding a promotion is not the way to develop customer loyalty.  Give patrons the facts and information regarding a promotion so they can make an informed decision should they want to participate.


  1. Welcome to the world of casino marketing. This tactic should come as no surprise as "creative" wording of promotions has been a tool of the trade since the dawn of time but has gotten worse over the past few years. You always need to read the fine print on any casino promotion. The flip side is that on the rare occasion these guys even outsmart themselves and offer up a deal that can be lucratively exploited, at least until they wise up and put a fork in it. Being a local, you need to keep your eyes open for them because it does happen but they tend to be very short-lived!

  2. Casino promotions are always deceptive. There seems to be no incentive for them to be honest or precise. My first trip to Vegas decades ago involved an encounter with a sidewalk signboard offering a free keychain. So after walking thru the slots area to the service desk the woman says something about the guy bringing the keychains will be here in twenty minutes. It was just a lie to get me to play the slots for awhile. I chose not to feed so much as one penny into their machines!

    Up until six months ago the website for Tuscany Resort proclaimed "where the odds are in your favor". I sent an inquiry to the Casino Manager as to why and how a casino would operate if the odds were in the player's favor but I never received a response.

  3. Thank you @fleastiff for anothe insightful comment! JH