Big Casino Brother is Watching You


When you see the letters CSI, your first thought might be of the popular television show set in Las Vegas that follows its stars through a “crime scene investigation.” That CSI is fiction but the real-life CSI is much more ominous. It stands for “Casino Share Intelligence” and describes how the ATM vendors at casinos share information about the customers who use the machines so that the casinos can follow or “chase” people who are mostly likely to lose their money in the casino.

The video embedded on this page is a marketing presentation for a company that sells the intelligence-gathering system to casinos. If you watch it, you’ll note that a lot of industry jargon and euphemisms are used but pay attention to the following:

  • The company collects and uses the information supplied unknowingly by casino gamblers every time they stick their debit or credit card information into an ATM machine to target them for future losses. They say on the video that they track more than nine million gamblers who withdraw more that $20 billion each year at 1,100 casinos. It’s a huge data-gathering operation.
  • There are a lot of references to “the most valuable individuals in your market.” This is a euphemism for people who will lose a lot in casinos. Casinos make about 90 percent of their profits from about 10 percent of gamblers.
  • The video talks about the ability to capture more “wallet share.” This euphemism isn’t even very euphemistic. They are pretty up front about what they’re after. Notice they talk a lot about the top 400 players in the market. Those are the people they know are hooked and will be spending their money on gambling somewhere.
  • They track everything possible about the gamblers — credit withdrawals, ATM withdrawals and even checks.
  • The video describes the purpose of using the software this way: “Your call to action is to figure out what it would take for her to spend more time and money with you.”
  • There’s a tremendous amount of attention placed on gamblers who live within a 26-mile radius. The next ring of focus is on gamblers within 150 miles of the casino. Obviously the casinos see the pockets of the people in the local community as being their primary targets. Logically, this simply means that money that would otherwise be spent on local businesses to support the productive economy will instead drain into the pockets of the big casino corporations. A little money will come back to the community in the form of salaries for the casino workers and some will go to Frankfort for the politicians to allocate but most dollars will leave Kentucky as profits for the casino corporations’ owners or shareholders.

The level of scrutiny that gamblers get is amazing. It’s obvious that there are some very smart people watching every move and working very hard to separate those who make the mistake of getting caught up in gambling from their money.

Is this really what we want for Kentucky?

Please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181 and leave a kind but firm phone message for your state senator. (The receptionist will help you with who your senator is when you tell her your county). Leave this message: “Stand against any expansion of gambling.”

The message line is open 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday.

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