While the majority of casino games nowadays operate on a large volume of small bets, whales (large-scale gamblers) are still a huge portion of the overall casino economy. A whale will have anywhere between $1 to $20 million, willing to invest in an establishment. They might spend an entire weekend at the casino and their spending is so high, that it pays for the casino to offer them any kind of incentive in order to make them stay.
A casino junket is one such investment. Namely, in order to attract them and keep them there, casinos will hire people known as junket agents or junket operators. These agents work on a commission and it’s their job to persuade gamblers to fly to the casino and spend some time there playing. Now, the flight is usually free of charge, as well as the accommodation. However, due to the amount spent there, both the casino and the junket agent will end up profiting greatly.
Here’s what you need to know about casino junkets.
Similar to Talent Scouts
Spotting a casino whale is not a simple thing. Sure, if someone spends millions in a weekend or has a habit of continually placing $10,000 in a single bet, they would qualify in an instant. A whale also tends to gamble long hours, which makes it somewhat hard for a junket operator to calculate exactly how much they spent at the casino in question.
The key thing is to spot those who not just bet big but bet big in continuity. You don’t want them to spend $100k per hand. What you want is for them to spend $100k over the weekend but then return in a couple of weeks and repeat this exploit.
Keep in mind that, just like ordinary gamblers, whales also tend to grow their bets exponentially. For instance, Harry Kakavas lost $1.5 billion in just 14 months and didn’t start with bets as big. In time, however, he was able to lose $2.3 million in less than half an hour (28 minutes to be precise). Just think about how lucrative it would have been to be his junket agent or the casino that hires this agent.
When it comes to whale gambling, even the rules are different. For instance, at a regular blackjack table, there’s a 1% house edge. A whale, on the other hand, can negotiate a 0.3% house edge. Some gamblers were even known to get an edge as low as 0.263%, which is just insane.
Now, keep in mind that house edges differ between games. Slot machines, for instance, have different casino edges depending on the game but the same tricks to winning on slot machines may still apply. In other words, while it is a different edge, it’s still the same game. The majority of these whales have already done the calculation, which means that even by betting a lot more, they’re still securing a part of their wins.
Remember that, when it comes to the rest of the rules, they may have personal preferences, as well. For instance, they may want a special color of the deck, rotated cards, or even a dealer who is a native speaker of their own native language. This is both for convenience and superstition, seeing as how gamblers are amongst the most superstitious people alive.
Dedicated VIP Hosts
The next thing you need to understand is that the experience that a player has at the casino greatly determines their willingness to return on a subsequent date. Now, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly, the majority of casinos assign these players to dedicated VIP hosts. Their job is to monitor the experience of these players and ensure that all their needs are met.
While preferential treatment may sound as unfair, keep in mind that from the business perspective, this is an investment that is bound to pay off. Moreover, while the majority of casino hotels are well-stocked, the role of a VIP host can be to acquire top-shelf liquor and inspect penthouse suites in order to ensure that all the needs of the guest are met. High-profile players are often superstitious and attention to detail and small rituals are essential here.
For obvious reasons, having the casino junket be the same person as a dedicated VIP host (to their whale) would be the best outcome. Still, there are not a lot of people who can withstand this pressure or micromanage everything in question.
Seeing as how online casinos do everything to emulate the traditional casino experience, it’s no surprise that online whales are getting preferential treatment, as well. First of all, it’s a lot easier to spot, track, and assign whale status to one in the online environment. This is also fairer, seeing as how you can set a requirement. For instance, one can be automatically treated as a whale after they deposit X amount to their profile in your online casino.
As of recently, even offline (old-school) junkets have increased their online activity by quite the margin. They increasingly use digital marketing in order to attract the attention of the whales and even openly make offers with a paid trip and all-inclusive stay at the casino hotel in question. Keep in mind that this is rapidly transforming the landscape of the profession, while there are some who fear that this may take some of the exclusivity (or even mystery) from the whole interaction.
The key thing to keep in mind is that, in popular culture, casino junkets don’t have the best of reputations. This is because, in the past, some of them were caught up in scandals involving illegal activities in order to attract the whales. Still, it’s a profession like any other. As we’ve described, they’re agents, and talent hunters working on a commission. They can also act as hosts or intermediaries between players and casinos. There’s quite a bit of money to be made here, which is why the role of junket is not to be outdated anytime soon.