In gaming, we would normally expect to see a fairly quick decline in our turnover into January and February as traditional holiday months, before we start to lift again in March. This gives us a couple of months to re-evaluate the gaming floor and put ourselves into a good position for the first half of the gaming year.
- Check for game conversion requirements
Check to see if any of your newer machines need a game conversion. If the games don’t make it through the busy Christmas period successfully, they won’t make it during the slower first few months of the year. Either change the games to something new, or for the older machines, go back to long term solid performing games that you are unlikely to need to change again, such as multigames.
- Preparation for buying new machines
This is one of the best periods to start looking at new games with a view to adding them in around March/April. Checking through your gaming rankings to see what you need to remove is important now but remember December is an odd month with some abnormal turnover days such as the Christmas period and New Year’s Eve, so make sure to look at an average of the last few months when deciding what to trade out.
While the manufacturers try to add a few games consistently each month during the year, the main game release periods are, just before the IHG trade show in March in Queensland, and just before the AGE Trade Show in August in Sydney. Buying new machines during these two trade show periods mean that you get access to be best new games (i.e. not the ones they hold back as conversion games because they are unsure of their performance) and your warranty period on each new game, of between 3-6 months, runs through to the next trade show so you get the best games all over again under warranty if game performance doesn’t meet expectations.
- Check your in-house links
In the busy lead up to the Christmas period, from August onwards, your in-house links would have been ticking over quite quickly. Now that we are in a slower period for a few months, it is a good time to have another look at the hit rates to ensure they are still being triggered quickly enough to encourage extra turnover. Alternatively, if you wanted to pull back a little of the percentage on the link wait until March/April when the turnover, and therefore the link hits, are just starting to increase. The lower number of hits at the beginning of the year will disguise percentage adjustments to the links in a few months.
- Review your gaming promotions
Most clubs and hotels have a break through the Christmas period for gaming promotions and other regular activities such as bingo and raffles. This is a good time of year to check through your data if you have any available, to ensure promotions are appropriate to the times you are looking to boost, and to ensure they still meet your market. If you can’t explain who your target market is and why you have a promo on at a particular time, then you probably need a reboot.
- Update policies and procedures
It’s a great time of year for house-keeping your policies and procedures. They can become out of date quickly and we have had a few legislation changes such as food service in gaming areas that need to be added to staff handbooks and procedures.
- Check your building and furniture
Sometimes when you are in the venue every day you forget to notice small things that need fixing. Gaming stools and benches are one area many clubs and hotels overlook and these can be sent for repair easily while the gaming floor is less busy. Get the staff to check for nicks in walls, doors and windows that don’t close properly and other easy cosmetic repairs that can ensure your gaming floor always look fresh.
- Check your rosters
A slower period after Christmas often means less staff are required. Check your casual rosters in particular. However, good help is hard to find so if you don’t want to lose your valuable trained staff give them extra jobs such as updating policies and procedures, checking furniture for repair, checking all your machine seals are installed (if you keep a list you can prove you checked them when being audited by inspectors), checking machine gambling stickers are all in place, and completing OLGR checklists to ensure all room signage is in place after the Christmas period.