Executives in the casino industry have long used euphemisms to describe various types of customers. One term often coined to describe a premium player is a whale. The term originated in Las Vegas and was used to describe gamblers who wagered very large amounts on each hand. As casinos proliferated throughout the United States the term began to be used more broadly to describe each casino’s best customers. All casinos have a few players that make an outsized contribution to the property’s gaming revenue. They may not be whales in the traditional sense, but they are still pretty big fish and every casino operator wishes they could find a few more. To this end, they build luxurious hotel suites, offer fine dining along with other amenities and employ hosts to service their most valued customers.
To better understand how some of the largest casino operators identify and capture big fish, a rather expensive research project was conducted. Two markets comprised of ten casinos were selected. These markets contained some of the nation’s most recognized casino brands. At each property a researcher joined the casino’s rewards program, requested two players’ club cards
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and asked the rewards program representative for directions to the high limit slot area. The researcher then was required to find two $5 slot machines (reels) with medium to low volatility, and play them simultaneously at $10 a spin for two hours or until the researcher generated $10,000 in coin handle.