Is the Stations Casinos’ Monthly “Drawing” Rigged?
Are the monthly drawings held at a Stations Casino rigged in favor of VIPs?
That’s my suspicion following a highly-unlikely series of events that happened last night at the Red Rock giveaway. Perhaps readers with backgrounds in mathematics and probability might chime in and render their opinions.
Stations Casinos are very generous with giveaways. Several enticing promotions are offered — including weekly football contests, free slot and video poker play, extra-points multipliers, discounts on food and entertainment, as well as monthly “drawings” for prize money. I believe that all of the Stations Casinos participate in these same promotions. However, I tend to play mostly at Red Rock Casino in Summerlin more than the rest, because it’s closest to my home.
Over the past nine months, I’ve accumulated hundreds of thousands of player points worth lots of comps — due mostly to a large volume of sports wagers (to their credit, Stations Casinos is one of the few to award points for wagers made via their online betting app). Normally, a monthly drawing with such a low probability of winning simply would not be worth my time. I have no interest in playing long shots or losing at lotteries. However, since most major sports are taking place this time of year, I’ve managed to acquire huge amounts of credits in both November and December. Accordingly, the lovely Marieta and I decided to do something which is rare for us, which was to show up on a Friday night, December 23rd at 8:15 pm for their monthly drawing. Yeah, I knew we wouldn’t win it, but if it was to happen this seemed like the best chance.
To be eligible for prizes, all one must do is be 21 years old and swipe his or her rewards card at one of the many electronic kiosks located throughout the casino. Players have the entire month to do this. For instance, if you swipe the card, that one visit is (usually) worth 10 entries into the monthly drawing. Many players swipe cards on multiple days, therefor increasing their chances to win. Naturally, if a player gives action, he or she receives more entries. However, wagering is not required to qualify and be included in the contest. Under these loosest of rules, there must be tens of thousands of entrants into each monthly drawing. I don’t know the actual numbers, of course. But this seems to be a reasonable assumption.
Ten winners are chosen. Presumably, the drawings are random, which means everyone has a chance to win. Prize money ranges from a few hundred dollars up to $10,000 for first place. Winners are required to be present at the casino. This requirement is a huge factor, since many players probably swipe their cards over the course of the entire month, but then don’t bother showing up. The number of no-shows must be in the tens of thousands.
Marieta and I arrived at Red Rock promptly at 8 pm. We took a position near the makeshift stage located in the middle of the casino. The “drawing” was done electronically. Instead of each winner’s name being called out (which would seem easier to manage), the card numbers were announced and then displayed upon a screen. This gave the proceedings all the charm of a visit to the local DMV. The emcee who was running the drawing was horrendous. She had the personality of a checkout girl asking for a price check at a grocery store. There was no welcome. No holiday greetings. No explanation. No drama. However, we didn’t come for the “entertainment.” We came to watch the drawing and hopefully win some free cash.
Ten numbers were announced and flashed upon the screen. The numbers were long and frankly, for many in the crowd, very difficult to both hear and see. I can only imagine the problem many older patrons must have had in trying to figure out if they won or not. The stage area was surrounded by perhaps 600-700 people, all who were standing. Most were age 60 and up. The remainder of the resort area likely had a few thousand guests spread throughout the casino floor.
Winners were given just two minutes to show up and claim their prize. Two minutes! For someone located on the other side of the casino, getting through a maze of people and finding the stage, would have been next to impossible. Moreover, the inept announcer gave no instructions on precisely what to do if the players’ number was chosen. Most of the people around me appeared either bored or confused. I was both. Within minutes, that would turn to anger and then — suspicion.
Under these circumstances, it seem impossible that most of the winners, each randomly chosen, would just so happen to be conveniently standing next to the stage. I estimated that it would take 30-40 minutes, at the very least, to round up all ten winners. It might even take an hour. Who knew? Yet incredibly, NINE out of TEN winners were present, verified, and then seated next to the stage. All of this happened within just a few minutes!
That wasn’t just a red flag. It was a giant semaphore signal that something about this “drawing” wasn’t quite right. It didn’t add up.
Out of the tens of thousands of eligible winners with their names entered in the drawing, many undoubtedly who were not present inside the casino last night, how’s it possible that nine of the winners were present? Wouldn’t at least a few be from out of town? Wouldn’t a few be busy with other activities just two days before Christmas? Wouldn’t some have forgotten about the drawing? Wouldn’t a few have trouble finding the stage within the narrow two-minute allotment of time? How incredible is it that nine winners just so happened to be right there on the spot?
But there was something else. What was even more strange was that none of the winners showed much of a reaction. Usually, when people win something they get excited. They scream. They jump up and down. They yell. There was virtually no reaction by any of the nine winners. This seemed beyond normal expectation for what would happen if you randomly plucked nine people out of a casino crowd and told them they were guaranteed to win hundreds of dollars in prize money, and perhaps even $10,000. All the winners appeared to be upscale people, and by that I mean wealthy locals who had lots of money with which to gamble. In other words, they looked like VIPs. It was as though they knew.
Still, one winner remained undetermined. Since no one showed up for the tenth spot, another number was “randomly” chosen and bingo! Within seconds that tenth and final winner was magically standing right there in the crowd. How amazing! What are the odds!
I have no idea if there are wink-wink deals with certain VIPs in these monthly drawings. From a purely profit standpoint, such manipulation would make sense. But, I can’t make that claim without some kind of proof. Perhaps the “drawing” is really on the square. Perhaps out of tens of thousands of eligible winners, ten out of the 11 people selected just happened to be standing next to the stage at Red Rock last night. That said, there are enough mathematical improbabilities here to raise serious doubts that this was/is a fair contest.
If Stations Casinos promotes this as a “giveaway” (which they do), there’s probably nothing technically corrupt about any favoritism. After all, giving perks to the heaviest losers would indeed be a giveaway and a stroke of the suckers who drop bundles at the casino. However, these monthly contests are advertised as drawings. One presumes that a drawing is random and that everyone has a chance to win.
If a representative of Stations Casinos wishes to answer these concerns I’ve raised, then I’ll make this public forum available to them without editorial comment. I’m willing to provide equal time in order to get an explanation. For the record, I did make an attempt to ask someone about the unlikelihood of all the winners being present at the casino. The market representative standing next to the stage was rude and dismissive of my inquiry, which incited me to raise this publicly.
In the meantime, I’d like to hear from readers who understand probability and get an unbiased assessment of what occurred. Could 10 out of 11 winners all manage to be present on the night of a drawing out of tens of thousands of entrants, particularly within an area that holds no more than a few thousand people?
Something sure smells fishy at Red Rock to me.
UPDATE (3:45 pm): Here’s information I received from someone I know (a local player), who asks to remain anonymous. Again, if Station Casinos wishes to refute this, I will grant them that opportunity. Here’s the info:
“—————I’m a Chairman Card holder with around 3,000,000 points a year. Based on play I know for a fact that the first SEVEN spots are for each casino top players each contest. The other THREE are random. The reason I know this is because 3 days before a contest, I have been called by my host (multiple times) to prompt me into coming to play that night. He will say your x# of points away this month for being on our list!! The list he calls is the Top SEVEN each month. So you are right on. I would prefer not to be mentioned in any articles.———-“
UPDATE (5:00 pm): I think this has now been sufficiently cleared up, thanks to a diverse pool of minds who shared comments on Facebook. For all the participation, thank you. My conclusion is that this is quite a misleading promotion that dupes many players into thinking they have some measure of equivalency. Moreover, there is not much randomness about the “drawing” or the final outcome since top VIPs are (apparently) contacted in advance. That gives them a decided advantage since they will be present the night of the drawing over the vast majority of participants who do now have that insider information. This is a marketing gimmick, and quite ambiguous and poorly run casino promotion, that deserves exposure. READ ALL THE FACEBOOK COMMENTS HERE.