An Expensive Mistake: Long Waits at a Casino

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Wrapped gift

The day before writing this piece, I waited 54 minutes in line to pick up a gift at a casino. There were two people giving out gifts, with one person focused on the “VIP” line (read: high card holders) which always seemed to have a couple of people. But that constant couple of people, combined with poor overall staffing, meant everyone else waited for an hour.

It’s one of those things as a player I’ve come to think about where I wonder how much that must actually cost a casino. A friend in the industry told me the estimate is that it’s $50 per hour per player a casino expects to make, on average. So now what’s the cost of 100 players waiting an hour for that gift? And then this line exists for multiple hours, meaning multiple hundreds of players taking their turn waiting in line.

The problem extends in other places too – waiting for the cashier, the players card desk, for a table at a restaurant, for the buffet (at the few casinos that still have one)… if you’re planning on going to the casino for a few hours, it’s not necessarily difficult to run out of time before you run out of money, which is sort of the point here.

When you see a long line at the casino, what do you do?

When players at Brian Christopher’s YouTube channel were asked their opinion about long lines, 30 percent opt to stand in the line, while another 30 percent will skip the line altogether. The remainder will try again later and hope for the best.

In the case of this trip, I left the casino ahead for the day, leaving around the time I planned to leave. If I was able to pick up the gift faster, it’s likely I would’ve played more within the time I had to be there, and with that the casino could have had a chance to get some or all of it back. We’ll never know, although with a house advantage on every game, it’s certainly in the realm of possibility.

But one more employee at whatever hourly rate that would cost, to halve the time of the wait could be thousands of dollars of potential increased earnings off the players who now have more time to play. That’s a pretty good ROI, and that doesn’t even take into account more modern takes like getting a voucher at the kiosk to then redeem online, which some casinos have taken to doing in recent years vs. having a massive gift line.

There are ways to break the literal line logjam if casinos wanted to. At Yaamava’, a casino that seems to get a lot right, they have players make reservations for their buffet instead of waiting in line for their turn inside. While there will still be a line to check in at times, compared to an unending line without reservations, it strikes a balance and minimizes waiting. My partner and I were able to be seated on Lobster Night there recently within five minutes of arrival, for instance.

While the casino I visited and waited for the gift probably saved me some money, we know that’s not the goal of a casino, and I’m there to have fun, after all. There’s still a long way to go to balance incentives with actual play time.

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