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Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

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Two vital books on casino marketing, management arrive

7 Aug 2008

By Howard Schwartz
It's a rare occasion when two fresh and crucial books for casino management arrive within weeks of each other -- but it just happened.

Principles of Casino Marketing by Anthony Lucas and Jim Kilby (243 pages, 9x11 paperbound, $89) and Casino Management -- A Strategic Approach by Kathryn Hashimoto (410 pages, 7x9 paperbound, $75.60) have found their way to our shelves like two timely speeding trains loaded with information about how casinos operate and what makes them successful.

Kilby, already a successful author and management expert with his previous Casino Operations Management book ($85) with co-author Lucas and Jim Fox, in his newest work describes both successful and unsuccessful practices, emphasizing that "mistakes provide outstanding learning opportunities." Recognizing that "many gaming executives across the globe lack experience" with respect to marketing issues and activities and that "Management is often left to imitate Las Vegas promotions, despite key market differences," the book is geared to "provide operators with meaningful direction and students with the insight they desire," Kilby says.

There are 13 major sections to this book. Following an introduction to casino marketing topics like Bottom-line Justification and Profit by Bet Size, the book explores casino promotions including property amenities and promotional activities; slot clubs, including card use and tiered clubs; and database marketing including grading players, retention and recovery.

One section examines match-play offers, promotional chips and vouchers. That's followed by dead chip programs and discounting player losses. Those executives who need advice on structuring a discount program for craps and 21 will find solid advice here, along with deal-making policies.

A vital area -- casino hosting and credit procedures -- is addressed as are managing conflict and collection duties. Kilby and his co-authors also offer advice on understanding the contribution of amenities with attention to areas like the game of bingo, the role of restaurants and entertainment.

A final chapter discusses developing a marketing plan, including analysis and forecasting of environmental factors, developing a budget and an outline.

The book contains a six-page index of subjects and concepts, and it can be used by individuals, or in a classroom environment text. It's a must-read for both newcomers to casino management or seasoned pros seeking new ideas to incorporate into their present operations.

Kathryn Hashimoto of East Carolina University had also co-authored Casino Dictionary with George Fenich ($24) in 2007. She loves to explore, examine, recommend and analyze casino gaming topics. In her Casino Management -- A Strategic Approach she presents in textbook format her explorations in 15 chapters. They include crisis management involving social, economic, political and legal environments; external influences like consumer behavior; the development of corporate culture; and historical developments. Along the way, there are fascinating scenarios or "test cases" where the impact of public opinion, the growth of Indian casinos, objections of law enforcement and problem gambling are among the issues discussed, and recommendations offered.

Hashimoto has invited experts to describe and offer suggestions in a variety of areas including for example the "how" of consumer behavior in casino management; how gambling operations are affected or conducted in other nations; how the industry has become "more respectable" over the past few decades because of the "corporate culture."

One section reviews the history of gambling from frontier days to modern times while another examines internal control including the games, revenue control, comps and credit and promotions. One intriguing section reviews the popular game of pachinko in Japan. (There are 18,000 of the "parlors" in action and 4 million machines which produce $30 billion a year for owners.) The question is -- is this gambling or "amusement"?

Additional sections focus on casino organizational structure including departments outside the casino, like food, beverage and entertainment and how departments work together. This is followed by an examination of the location and what transportation is available to bring customers to the casino.

Hashimoto and other researchers also present ideas and existing practices for casino promotions and follow this with a final important section on the future of gaming including a look at changing cycles in history, economic impact and the rise of the Internet and sports betting.

A handy eight-page detailed index facilitates finding key concepts or subjects. This is an ideal textbook and reference guide for those planning to research or enter the gaming industry and should be read by students already enrolled in such a program or anyone who must respond to the "pro or con" controversy involving expansion of the industry.

Copyright Gambler's Book Shop. All books reviewed in this article are available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), located at 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 and online at

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