First, I think one must understand the difference between Independent Casino Reps and Casino Junket Reps. This is not always easy because the definitions can vary depending upon where in the world one is located. In some areas, they are synonymous and it other parts of the world they are totally different. Asia is one of the more complicated markets to understand because the terms can vary country to country and even within the same country. Second, depending upon the gaming jurisdiction, licensing by casino regulators can also vary dramatically often incorporating different standards for licensure.
Never-the-less, a very general summary of both terms may be that Independent Casino Reps refer qualified players to casinos. They usually do not lend money, issue credit nor collect debt for casinos. They are normally paid a commission based upon either the statistical Theoretical Win or the actual Loss of the player. A Junket Rep, especially in Asia, may lend money or issue credit to their player and may also collect any casino debt. They are normally paid a percentage of Turnover of non-negotiable chips. Independent Casino Reps are normally sole proprietor type businesses working alone and Junket Reps oftentimes represent larger organizations which engage many sub-junkets or sub-reps under their umbrella.
Many readers are probably old enough to remember a very famous “advice column” that was around for many years titled “Dear Abby”. Readers used to write to the newspaper to ask Abby’s advice about numerous different subjects but mostly related to their love life. As a Casino Consultant, I also get numerous letters from readers asking for my advice as well. Many of their questions relate to “How do I become a Junket Rep?” I think answering questions about someone’s love life might actually be easier to answer than questions related to Casino Junkets / Independent Reps but never-the-less I will try.
A typical letter received would be:
Dear Steve, I read your advice online and am very interested in becoming a casino junket rep. I have traveled to Atlantic City and Las Vegas on a few junkets and feel it could be both a rewarding job as well as a fun job. I am not a heavy gambler. I mostly play slots and blackjack, but never felt the need to gamble more than I set aside for any given day, therefore the temptation to bet my house is not a problem. I did however notice that on most of the junkets or casino trips that I have taken, there is very limited interaction between the independent rep and the player. I feel if the reps got more involved in making the trip enjoyable, they could get more repeat business. I have no clue how to become a casino junket / independent rep and therefore could use some advice on how to get started. Do I contact the casino? Is there a license that I will need to apply for? Is there a school that I need to attend? I have found many websites for becoming a travel agent, but none for becoming a Casino Junket or Independent Rep. Any advice that you can offer would be great. Thank you so much, John.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a school or university that teaches Junket Rep 101 or Independent Rep 101. Therefore, the first thing that one must learn is to understand exactly what being a Rep means in real terms as well as in financial terms. In real terms, a junket or independent rep is a hybrid cross between a salesman or a saleswoman (yes there are some female junket reps – very good ones too), a casino host, an advisor and a gaming resource. In financial terms, a junket rep is usually financially successful because the good ones will have the ability to earn a lot of money from lucrative commission programs offered by casinos. Legitimate Junket / Independent Reps are not loan sharks, mob enforcers or gangsters preying upon innocent naïve gamblers. For the purpose of this article I will use the term Junket Rep as being synonymous with Independent Rep but it could vary depending upon location and license requirements. Therefore, I will just refer to them now as Casino Reps.
Casino Reps are basically service providers. Casino Reps provide services to both casinos and to their customers if they are qualified players. The services provided to casinos are basically marketing services. Casino Reps help to promote the host casino to new players so, in effect, they provide the prospecting aspect (searching for new players) of player development for various casinos. They also provide marketing services because they are informing qualified players about upcoming casino special events, gaming or golf tournaments, headliner entertainment or shows, etc. Casino Reps also provide a special service to their customers in the way of access to these non-public or private events, shows or tournaments. Casino Reps often provide convenience or “one stop shopping” to their players.
Convenience is very important as well as access for many busy players. Casino Reps make it very easy and convenient for players to book a gaming trip through them or their office. Once the player commits to attending the event their Rep handles all the details for them which may include booking their hotel room or VIP suite, booking their show tickets, arranging transportation, reserving starting times for golf or spa / salon treatments, booking restaurant reservations and getting their player access or VIP seats to the casino special event, show or tournament. In some cases, dependent upon the location and the casino programs in place, the Rep may also intervene on behalf of their player and help negotiate other things such as Loss Discount percentages, Promo Chips, Bonus Slot Play or gifts in the form of shopping allowances within the casino. This does not happen in casinos offering non-negotiable chip rolling programs for Baccarat as often found in Asia due to the high commissions paid on the Turnover.
Casinos expect that anyone invited by the Casino Rep to be a “qualified” player, meaning that the Rep knows the player personally as well as their past play history at other casinos, and knows that their level of play will qualify for an invitation to such event. Therefore, Casino Reps provide background checks and verifications that a casino would normally have to do prior to inviting a new player to an expensive special event, show or tournament. Casinos almost always set event criteria for each event which may include a certain level casino credit line or cash deposit, a certain number of hours play per trip at a minimum level bet or higher, a past -history of documented wins or losses at other similar size casinos and possibly some background on the customer’s skill level or playing style for the game played. In the case of slot players, the casino would also want to know if the customer plays slot machines versus video poker since video poker machines hold less money for the casino, coin denomination played and average dollar amount of coin in during a normal gaming trip. Most casino management systems compile all of these details and summarize them in reports which reveal the players ADT (average daily Theo or theoretical win). Theo for table game players is a standard casino statistical formula comprised of average bet x time played x house advantage per game x number of decisions per hour. Most casinos recognize ADT because it is fairly-well standardized which allows them to then prioritize suites or room assignments, VIP seating or a host of other details that may be capacity or space controlled. The simple fact is that the best players get the best accommodations, etc. and everything else trickles down by either ADT or a Casino Reps strong recommendation to casino management on a potential new player.
Gamblers or players expect to deal with a Casino Rep who is very familiar with the host casino and their staff so that they may receive VIP treatment upon arrival as well as throughout their entire trip. Players also expect that their Rep will be able to get them with access to the special events, shows or tournaments as well as VIP seating. They also expect that their Rep will have made all other reservations for the duration of their trip so that they do not have to worry about any details and basically will just go to gamble and have fun. In other words, they want a “stress- free” trip other than from the Win or Loss on the gaming tables or slots. Players often view their Rep as their casino Concierge. They rely upon their Rep to take care of everything for them for that particular casino trip.
Most casinos in regulated jurisdictions require Casino Reps to be licensed with either the State or the Gaming Control Board. The applications can be quite lengthy and detailed and often require a full financial disclosure with copies of your past three years of income tax filings. One concern of the gaming regulators is obviously to keep organized crime and criminal elements out of the casino industry. Junket license fees depending upon the State or jurisdiction can range from $100 to many thousands of dollars. The license fees are used by the regulators to conduct a complete and thorough background check on all applicants. Finger-prints are checked via the FBI and other law enforcement agencies depending upon the country.
So how can one start? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Most casinos normally want to engage experienced Casino Reps that are already established in their city, territory or region who have large lists or databases of qualified players. In the old days, many of the Casino Reps were book-makers who knew who the local gamblers were. However, today, many of these former old-time book-makers probably would not get licensed. Therefore, individuals who want to become Casino Reps must think creatively. One method is to try to go on a Junket (gaming trip) or two and talk to the Rep to see if they may be looking to hire additional staff. Another way is to try to get a job at a casino to learn from the inside out. Working at a casino in an area such as their Players Club or in Casino Marketing will enable one to learn how a casino functions and also give one an opportunity to work with gamblers or players and learn their idiosyncrasies. Ultimately, the goal is to understand how casinos operate and then begin to build your own database or portfolio of qualified players. I know many Casino Reps who did this and started with as few as 50 qualified players and built up from there.
It is important to also point out that the better Casino Reps that survive and prosper do so based upon their reputations. Therefore, one always wants to operate with the highest level of integrity. It is a privilege to be invited to a casino along with your customers for an event. I have unfortunately observed many Casino Reps self-destruct by trying to steal players while on the casino floor or from other Casino Reps while attending such events. Once you get “Black Listed” from a casino it will be very difficult to get hired by other casinos.
A key point for aspiring Casino Reps is that you need to start slowly and carefully. Once you get licensed and accepted by a casino as a Casino Rep it is normally fairly easy to get accepted by additional casinos in different gaming jurisdictions. Many Casino Reps normally are licensed at minimum in Las Vegas, New Jersey, the Caribbean, in their own State, by a cruise ship, or in their home country if other than the United States, etc. That way they can develop their own distinctive marketing strategies which may involve direct sales, social networking, direct mail, website marketing, telemarketing as well as referrals or recommendations from existing satisfied customers. One goal should always be to try to develop “Advocates” from your existing players who will continually recommend you to other players whom they may meet elsewhere. Being licensed in more than one casino also affords you the opportunity to offer your players access to many additional exciting events or shows across the country or internationally. Junkets vary as well around the world. Junkets in Asia are quite different from Junkets in Europe or North America. Many Junkets in Asia actually supply credit to their customers and therefore are also responsible for the collection of this credit. Therefore, one must very carefully research their own local markets to better understand if they will be able to qualify as a Casino Rep or be able to function successfully as a Casino Rep. If you really want to become a Casino Rep you will need to be persistent. It is not easy but it can be done and the rewards or compensation can be very substantial and quite lucrative. Good luck.
Please feel free to share this article with your staff, friends or peers. As we all know, the casino business today is a very complicated business.
Please also note that I am available for short-term casino marketing consulting projects covering such subjects as:
- Casino Host / Player Development Training based on the premise that everyone should be focused on sales and developing advocates.
- Junket Training – understanding Casino Junkets and Independent Reps to help most casinos import new business and maximize profitability.
- Asian Casino Marketing – how to attract and improve profitability from this lucrative but complicated market segment. One size does not fit all with regards to Asian casino marketing due to numerous cultures, customs and languages.
- Ethnic Casino Marketing – this is an area often misunderstood and often overlooked for incremental casino revenue.
- Casino Special Events, Mini-events, Photo Ops for Social Media, Miscellaneous other Promotions but using sponsorship money or merchandise to help offset expenses.
- Casino Marketing Plans – how to develop an effective one or how to fine tune an existing one to maximize profitability.
I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to casino marketing. I can be a very valuable independent consulting resource and help your casino in many different ways to increase revenues and maximize profits.
[Steve Karoul is a well-known and respected casino marketing consultant with over 38 years of hands-on experience. Steve has lived and worked in numerous different countries around the world and has conducted casino marketing in well over 125 countries. He has worked as a Casino Rep, he has worked for two of the larger Junket Reps in Asia and he has employed hundreds of Reps while working for different casinos. He understands both casino operations and casino marketing. He is viewed as an expert on Casino Junkets / Casino Independent Reps. He is also a gaming industry innovator who openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow casino industry executives. For additional information, Steve can be reached at [email protected] or www.euroasiacasino.com ]