Q: What is your major responsibility?
A. To cater to the elite players, accommodate them, and fill their every need.
Q. What's an elite player?
A. A high roller, someone who bets heavily.
Q. And what is a heavy bet in Atlantic City?
A. Someone who plays with black chips -- $100 chips -- is a heavy bettor.
Q. What do you do to attract those kind of players?
A. We send them helicopters and limousines. One time I had a Philadelphia player who was snowed in, couldn't get out of his driveway, so I dispatched a snowplow to clear out his driveway. Once, a guy's car broke down on a hot night -- I think his engine overheated -- about 80 miles outside of Atlantic City. So we sent a limousine and bottle of Dom Perignon with sandwiches for him and his wife. We've sent Lear jets for people.
Q. Who would rate a Lear jet?
A. That would be for someone with a $250,000 credit line who uses it.
Q. How do you know if someone uses it?
A. As soon as they take a marker out at a table, it's automatically recorded. If Mr. B takes out a $1,000 marker and is betting $100 a hand for two hours, and loses $1,000 or wins $1,000, it's all recorded, it all goes into the computer.
Q. How do you find those kind of players?
A. Usually referrals from other players. Gamblers tend to hang with gamblers, and they usually hang with what they bet. You very seldom find a $5 bettor with someone who is betting black chips all the time.
Q. So these players tell you about their friends?
A.Right. They'll say, "Look, Ronnie, I've got one of my friends coming in from California," and then it just migrates into that. One after another after another, and you build up your clientele. It takes years.
Q. Do you share information about players with other casinos?
A. Sometimes a player might show up at another casino and say, "I'm a player at Resorts. Ron handles me." The casino will call up and say, "Ron, is he a good player?" because he's probably looking for a show or dinner, something like that. Most of the time, my players will call me and say, "Ronnie, I want to go eat at Harrah's or Balley's" and I'll call one of their credit execs and say I've got a pretty good player who wants to come by.
Q. Do casinos share credit ratings and track records among each other?
A. We can run a name through Central Credit. If a gentleman comes in and says, "I play at the Sands," we'll run his name and birthdate through Central Credit. It's a service that tells us if a player has credit at any other casino in the country.
Q. Tell me about rating a player.
A.You mean as far as betting and what we give them for comps? Well, usually if a player buys in for $1,000, and he makes $100-or-up bets for three or four hours, he's entitled to a certain atmosphere of comps. He's usually entitled to an RFB, which stands for room, food and beverage.
Q. Tell me about that computer. What do you use it for and what can it tell you?
A. It gives us player ratings, which is the amount of money he buys in for, multiplied by the amount of hours he plays. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether he wins or loses.
Q. Why not?
A. Because it really doesn't make a difference. If a player beats us for $100,000, it doesn't mean anything to us. All we want is the chance. A player who wins $100,000 usually goes around and broadcasts that he beat Resorts. It's good for publicity. If he goes back to his friends, who are probably pretty wealthy and probably enjoy the gaming industry, they might all get together and say, "Let's try it." Probably that player will come back and put that $100,000 back into action plus more of his own money. A player who wins that type of money usually doesn't go out and buy a new house. He usually keeps it in his drawer or checking account because that's his playing money. It has nothing to do with his business or anything besides playing.
Q.Most of Atlantic City's business comes from New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. Does the Washington player differ from his northern colleagues?
A. We get a lot of bus people from Washington, smaller players. But among the high rollers, usually a player is a player, though some are more conservative, more slow moving. They might think the hand out in a blackjack game. Manipulate their chips. Use a little money management. But they're basically the same: they still bet. New York and Philadelphia players are usually fast. Washington players are more conservative. Out of Washington, there's a great deal of European trade from the embassy crowd and visitors who stay at some of the hotels that I frequent like the Mayflower, The Four Seasons and the Madison.
Q. What do you mean you frequent them?
A. I'll come down two or three times a month, go inside and have dinner. Sometimes I'll just have a drink at the bar and just start talking to people. Sometimes in New York I'll go to the Bull 'n' Bear inside the Waldorf Astoria and wait for many of the stockbrokers. In Washington, you have to ask certain questions, like if they enjoy gambling. I notice what people are wearing, whether it's a tailor-made suit, because it might give you some kind of clue. Sometimes I'll drive by a bar or hotel and see what kind of cars are parked nearby. If there are some Rolls Royces, Mercedes and Sevilles, then I have a good inkling that the place has a pretty high clientele: lawyers, stockbrokers or businessmen who I can infiltrate and strike up conversations with. Or I'll call up a Washington player and take them out to dinner and they'll usually bring some friends with them.
Q. What's the biggest win or loss you've personally known about at your casino, leaving aside slot machine jackpots?
A. There were two Orientals from Hong Kong and an Arab who whacked us out for $3 million playing baccarat a couple of days in September.
Q. Will they come back?
A. Oh, sure. The biggest player I ever personally handled who beat me is a guy out of Ft. Lauderdale who beat us for $500,000 in blackjack once.
Q. Did he come back?
A. Yeah, he came back with that and lost it all plus, I think, another $200,000 of his own. He comes up on his own Lear. The biggest loss I've seen was about $1 million in a night. He was one of my people, a businessman from Philadelphia. He blew $50,000 in one hour, betting anywhere from $500- to $2,500-a-hand at blackjack playing two hands at a time. He was very gentlemanly. He didn't utter a word for an hour. Then he got up from the table, shook my hand, said, "Thank you, Ron, for a wonderful evening" and went to dinner, the show and then we sent him home by helicopter.
Q. Has he been back since?
A. Oh, yeah.
Q. What's the toughest part of your job?
A. Watching a player lose. Because a player -- well -- most of them are my friends. Even though it doesn't bother them to lose that money, it still bothers me.
Q. Are most of your players men?
A. Yes. Most are of Jewish and Italian descent.
Q. Do they generally bring their wives?
A. Absolutely. Many of the players' wives, I've found, will say, "What am I supposed to do while you're gambling? What am I going to do with the children when its raining outside?" At Resorts we have a magic show, an arcade, lounge acts and sometimes on the weekends we have clowns to make balloons in tbe lobby just for the children. The wife, she can do a number of things: get a rubdown, use the indoor pool, exercise, take a nice sauna or steam.
Q. Is keeping a wife off a player's back important?
A. It's just one of the facets of the job. Some of the husbands will give their wives a $100 chip and they'll go play on the nickel ($5) game.
Q. How many players do you have?
A. About 2,000 and that number is always growing. It has to. It just builds up. As one player comes in, he'll bring another friend. It's your job to determine if the friend is a good player. Or if he's a companion of the other real good player who leans on him to get comps. Then you have to make a decision or tell the player, "We're glad to take care of you, but your friend is receiving more comps then you are."
Q. How many days a week do you work?
Q. Do you meet and greet all of your players when they arrive?
A. If I don't, some of my staff will. Casino hosts who will walk them up to the restaurants and things like that if I'm not there.
Q. I presume your players don't have any trouble getting reservations for dinner or shows?
A. No good player ever does. All they have to do is just call and we immediately take care of them.
Q. Do you have a quota as to the amount of money you should cause to be put into play every month?
A. That's called "the drop." And I have a quota of at least $1.5 million in action per month, or $50,000 a day, every day of the year.
Q. What percent of the drop in your casino are you responsible for?
A. About 10 per cent.
Q. That seems like an incredible amount of pressure. What if a player wants a woman companion?
A. That's absolutely no.
Q. Do you get asked that?
A. I've never been asked that, but I imagine it goes on. No casino in town gets involved in that.
Q. Which is somewhat different that Las Vegas?
A. From what I understand, it is different that way from Vegas.
Q. You're not being coy about not having been asked to provide female companionship?
A. I tell you, I can't remember it ever happening.
Q. Do you gamble?
A.I'm not allowed to gamble anywhere in Atlantic City. Which I think is a very good law. Many of the Vegas people who came here to work in the casinos came out broke. Now, instead of gambling, they buy condos, have investments and they're really doing a lot better than they were in Vegas.
Q. Is the moral of that not to gamble?
A. Well, you gamble for the excitement. I imagine when you have everything, the next thing is to gamble. The thrill of it, the excitement of buying into a game for maybe $15 and walking away with $50 or $60 is the same for a guy who buys into the game for $20,000 and walks away with $500,000. It's the excitement. I don't think most people gamble for financial status or to make a living. It's for the excitement.
Q. What kind of human frailties do you see?
A. When some players lose, they turn into different kinds of people. They can turn very obnoxious and nasty. When they're winning, they're fine, but when they're losing, they say, "I'm never coming back here -- you brought me here! It's your fault!" But after the smoke clears, they always come back. Because they realize that they really wanted to come down, and they called me.
Q. How do you cultivate a new player?
A. You try to find out what area he lives in before you call him. You start asking questions. Call Central Credit. Ask some of his friends what kind of player he is. Does he have money or is he tapped out? If everything is positive, the next step is to make contact with him by phone or go out and meet him.
You call him and say, "Mr. B, this is Ron from Resorts, how are you doing?" Usually they're skeptical if they don't know you. I say, "I just wanted to call you to let you know we have a very good show coming up" -- Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka or Diana Ross or whoever -- "and I'd like to extend you an invitation to bring in you and your wife and friends for a little dinner and show as my guest." Usually they ask where I got their name, and I say I was talking to a friend who they once shot craps with out at MGM or Tahoe. That's usually how you start up the conversation. But it'ssyour opening line that will hook the player. If you come on happy, like you've known the guy all your life -- and that's the way you have to make him feel in the first minute -- then you can usually bring them in.
I remember calling a player in New York once a week for a solid six months. "How are you doing, how have you been, these shows are coming up, is there anything I can do. . . ." He'd always say, "Well, I'm busy this week, I'll call you next week and I'll call you next week. . . ." Finally I called him up and said, "Mr. B, listen. I'm going to send you a show schedule and dinner schedule and our helicopter schedule. You're so busy, please contact me at your convenience." And with that, he says. "Well, Ron, aren't you going to call me anymore?" I said, "Mr. B, I feel like I'm bothering you. I know you enjoy going to that other casino, and I know you know everyone there, but as I've told you before, we have more to offer." "Well," he said, "put me down next week." He was RFB, and that weekend he put into action three times what I earn in a year.
Q. What do you earn in a year?
A. Well, let's just say I make over $50,000.
Q. Do you receive a commission on how much money you cause to be dropped?
A. I wish I did.
Q. Has the recession hurt your business?
A. It really hasn't. Usually a casino will thrive in a recession. You know, most people will try to turn that $10 into $25 or that $25 into $100. And they'll usually take their last shot to increase their bankroll.
Q. Do players believe in luck and rabbit's feet?
A. Sure. A lot of guys, while they're shooting craps, will shake the dice a certain way or always let their wives shoot the dice. When we first opened, a lot of players wouldn't play with the chips because they thought they were unlucky. So they'd only use cash. Some players only like $25 green chips. They think the $100 black ones bring them bad luck.
One of my players always wears a red tie. If he is in Philly, and a bunch of guys decide to come down and he only has jeans on with an old shirt, he'll go into our clothing shop and buy a red tie. He won't gamble without it.
Q. Does it help?
A. Not really.