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The Are No M Life Casinos In Atlantic City

MGM Resorts M Life Players Club

M Life

Every day I get incoming searches that are some variation of this:

m life casinos in atlantic city

There are no M Life casinos in Atlantic City.

Here’s a link to M Life casinos across the country. There are no MGM Resorts hotels in Atlantic City. Even though MGM Resorts owns half of Borgatathey really don’t. Borgata has their own players club anyway.

MGM Resorts casinos that use this players club are located in Las Vegas, BiloxiDetroit and Tunica. In addition to these MGM Resorts hotels there are other casinos that are partners of the players club (See Pinnacle-MGM details here).

This is one of the most searched terms that send people to EDGeVegas.com. Sorry to burst your bubble googlers but there are no M Life casinos in Atlantic City.

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Seven Stars Insider – February Edition

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider. This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Caesars Total Rewards players .  Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.

Tunica

Mississippi, Here I Come
I’m making my first trip to Tunica this month, and will give you a full report in the March issue. Anyone have any suggestions or tips to make my visit more enjoyable?

Las Vegas

Caesars Palace

One Restaurant Opens, Another Closes – Temporarily
Old Homestead has opened (in the location formerly occupied by Neros), but Café Lago and its buffet are closed for renovations. That also means you have one less buffet to choose from if you purchase the Buffet of Buffets.

Paris

Chef From Hell To Open Paris Steakhouse
Gordon Ramsay, star of TV’s Hell’s Kitchen, will open Gordon Ramsay Steak in the space formerly occupied by Les Artistes Steakhouse. The restaurant is expected to open next month.

Speaking Of March Openings. . .
The Broadway hit Jersey Boys will move from the Palazzo Theatre to Paris’ Les Theatre des Arts.

Atlantic City

Turns Out You Did Hear It Here First!
An item in the October 2011 issue [“Hide and Go Shrimp (and other rumors)”] reported:

· Shrimp cocktail is going to disappear from the menu at the Diamond Lounges – at least during the week and continuing through Memorial Day weekend.

Turns out that in mid-January, this is exactly what happened – at least at Bally’s. All is not lost, though. From what I can gather, the other three Diamond Lounges are still serving shrimp, but at Bally’s one Tuesday last month servers and bartenders were instead offering bruschetta to customers. In addition, the buffet included a nice selection of cheeses and gourmet crackers. Other options may also be tested. For those who are allergic to shellfish, or simply don’t like shrimp, this is a welcome alternative. That said, I’m not sure that all customers will agree (or approve) – especially when those shrimp were the centerpiece of Caesars justification for charging some Diamond cardholders $10 to use the lounges – and the fact that the Borgata and Golden Nugget offer bowls of chilled shrimp as a regular part of the buffets at their player’s lounges.

Think ‘Twice’ Before Using Comps
While most casino-owned restaurants, as well as many shops and spas, accept Rewards Credits (comps) on a 1:1 basis, i.e., one comp dollar equals $1, others accept them on a 2:1 basis. In other words, a $50 meal costs $100 in comps. Unfortunately, this comp policy is not always clearly indicated, so there is a bit of “sticker shock” when that $3 cup of coffee ends up costing $6 in comps. Here is a partial list of restaurants, bars, clubs and other places that accept comp dollars, but at a 2:1 ratio:

Bally’s/Wild Wild West – Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry’s, M Star Mart, Macy’s gift cards, Harry’s Oyster Bar, Taste of the Shore outlets, tobacco products at casino-owned retail stores

Caesars – Morton’s The Steakhouse, Dusk, Tazza, Boardwalk Beer Garden (seasonal), 21 Bar @ Dusk, tobacco products at casino-owned retail stores (for Pier Shops gift cards and Pier Shops restaurants that accept comp dollars, see below.)

Harrah’s – McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, Taste of the Shore outlets, tobacco products at casino-owned retail stores

Showboat – Johnny Rockets, tobacco products at casino-owned retail stores

In addition, the following restaurants at the Pier Shops accept Total Rewards comp dollars: Phillips Seafood, Sonsie, Buddakan, Piazza di Georgio and Souzai. (Check at a Caesars casino kiosk first, sometimes these restaurants offer specials, accepting comps on a 1:1 basis.) In addition, a Pier Shops gift card may be purchased at the Total Rewards desk in Caesars, but, again, at a 2:1 ratio, e.g., a $100 gift card will cost $200 in comps. [Purchases at the Total Rewards Store in the Pier Shops should be made directly with Reward Credits; using a gift card “bought” with Rewards Credits will amount to paying double for purchases.]

AC Country Club
Only because I’ve run into several players who were not aware of this, allow me to remind you that, not only is the Atlantic City Country Club open to the public, but you can use your comp dollars (Rewards Credits) to pay for meals and greens fees. Sometimes it takes a couple of swipes for all of your comp dollars to show up in your account. I had this happen at lunch one day, but, knowing I had plenty of comps, I asked the server to swipe again and, voila, there they were.

Call First, Eat Later (but maybe somewhere else)
As some folks discovered January 31, you can’t always trust the posted opening hours of Caesars restaurants. Scheduled to be open from 4 to 9 p.m., the Waterfront Buffet at Harrah’s was closed that night, as well as on February 1. Those who had coupons for free buffets were offered a $15 per person credit at Sammy D’s or Bill’s Bar and Burger.

Bally’s

The Good. . .
Not two hours before a wonderful dinner at Arturo’s last month I was bemoaning the fact that I am rarely offered the complimentary amuse-bouche, mini-dessert sample and/or after-dinner cordial anymore. What a nice surprise to receive all three! They were the proverbial “icing on the cake”! Kudos to Arturo’s kitchen staff, as well as servers Jay and Jose (and their assistant whose name I forget) for a great meal.

The Bad. . .
Actually, it’s not their fault, probably just some quirk in New Jersey law, but my original plan to dine at Nanking was thwarted when my guest and I were told we had to finish our cocktails before we could enter the restaurant. Since we had just left the Diamond Lounge with two perfectly good drinks, we weren’t about to dump them down the drain, nor were we going to guzzle them cooling our heels outside the restaurant. Instead, we cancelled our reservation and opted for dinner at Arturo’s. While I’m sure Nanking is very nice – and I plan to return (lesson learned regarding cocktails!) – everything turned out fine (see above).

The Ugly. . .
Who designed the new L | Lounge in Bally’s lobby – a former Viet Cong prison guard? With its perimeter surrounded by various lengths of bamboo, it looks like a prisoner-of-war camp. And that name? A female friend thought that Bally’s was going after the lesbian market to compete with Resorts’ Pro Bar [formerly Prohibition Bar], a bar that caters mostly to gay men. Hasn’t anyone at Bally’s heard of Showtime’s The L Word? [Hint: “L” doesn’t stand for “Lobby”.]

Text For Your Car
With the removal of the self-scan valet parking kiosk, hotel and casino guests who have either a Diamond or Seven Stars card can text their valet ticket number. Hotel guests should use (609) 705-4886; casino guests, (609) 350-0955. Allow about five minutes when requesting your car.

Wild Wild West Table Games Closed
It’s probably just for the slower winter months, but, according to a sign in the casino, table games are “currently unavailable” at the Wild Wild West.

$100,000 Hidden Free Play
Don’t forget to swipe your player’s card everyday this month between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to see if you’ve won your share of $100,000 in hidden free play.

Goodbye, Gertie
Gold Tooth Gertie’s, at the base of the escalator from Caesars to the Wild Wild West, is history. It’s a shame, because I used to enjoy popping down there to grab a quick light breakfast if I was staying in the Centurion Tower at Caesars. The nearest option is the Corner Café at the end of the corridor leading from Bally’s to the Claridge.

Caesars

Fusion Cuisine Without Knowing It
I was surprised when I got home to find that my takeout order from Kwi was in an Olive Garden container. Caesars is really taking this recycling thing seriously!

Watch Those Logos
While it was a popular giveaway – after all, it was “free”, those watches last month would have been even more appealing had they not been cheapened (in my opinion) by the Caesars logo – no matter how small. I don’t mind a jacket or T-shirt, but why spoil a nice watch? You can’t “re-gift” it, donate it to a charity or even sell it at a yard sale – which is what I (and many others) usually do with a lot of these giveaways.

Chinese Bad Year?
Last year’s Lunar New Year Marketplace was really great – terrific entertainment and interesting, inexpensive things to buy with “shopping dollars” provided to many of Caesars better customers. I didn’t attend this year, but many told me they were disappointed by this year’s vendors and what they felt were prices not commensurate with the quality of the goods, i.e., overpriced.

Harrah’s Resort

‘Two Eggs Over Easy With A Side Of Cleaning Solution, Please’
Sammy D’s is finally open for business. At first glance there doesn’t appear to me too much different, with the major exception of a large oval bar and some high-top tables that replaced a section of “regular” dining tables when Sammy’s was Reflections. Open less than a week when I had breakfast – er, “Brunch” (more on that later), the large staff was really hustling, with servers, bussers and even managers racing around taking orders, delivering food and cleaning tables (more on that later too). While some might say it isn’t fair to criticize a place so new, if it’s open for business and charging full price, then I think it’s OK to make a few “observations”: First, the good news. The room looks great, the service is efficient and professional, and the food is fine. However, like Bill’s Bar and Burger, it’s going to be awfully hard to live up to all that hype about a “coffee shop on steroids”. Granted, the menu is a huge spiral-bound volume of offerings, but many are listed several times in different sections so there aren’t really as many choices as you’d think. The problem, though, is that not everything on the menu is available 24 hours a day – or even seven days a week. It’s like having your cable company offer you 400 channels, but allowing you to watch some of them only from midnight to 6 a.m., or just on Saturdays and Sundays. Case in point: It’s 10 a.m. on Saturday (or Sunday), but you can’t order from the “Breakfast” section of the menu; you have to order from the two-page “Brunch” section (to which the person who seats you conveniently opens the menu). Not knowing this in advance, and temptation being what it is, you start thumbing through all the other pages – as I and just about everyone around me did – and you land on the “Breakfast” section and make your mental selection. Unless it’s listed on the “Brunch” menu, though, you won’t be able to order it (at least between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays). Chances are, it will be, but if customers are going to be allowed to order only from a limited selection, why give everyone the entire menu? Some other comments:
Ditch the cheap pre-packaged “breakfast syrup” and serve real maple syrup or even a high quality “blend”.
If you’re going to charge me $4 for a glass of orange juice, I don’t want something made from a concentrate. It doesn’t have to be “freshly squeezed” (as at Café Roma over at Caesars), but Tropicana and other brands have some pretty good quality products and, last time I checked, you can buy a 59 ounce carton for around $3 (even less when it’s on sale).
Find a new cleaning solution. The smell of that “industrial strength Windex” they’re using is enough to take away someone’s breath (and appetite!). If you’re about to be seated next to a party that looks like it’s ready to leave, ask for another table. The fumes from the solution they’ll use to clean that table are overwhelming.
If you’re going to continue to limit your offerings to certain days of the week and specific times, please order some new separate menus for those occasions – and don’t print some of the type in light pink or yellow (it’s unreadable).

Dishing Another Giveaway
I felt sorry for some of the folks who were wrestling with their heavy sets of dishes at a giveaway one Saturday last month. Even though the boxes were thoughtfully attached to lightweight handcarts, trying to get them up and down escalators (and stairs) was obviously a chore – especially for some of the older guests. One woman was so fatigued simply pulling her cart from the ballroom to the elevator that I thought she was going to have a heart attack. Then there were all those extra security guards needed to limit the number of people on the escalators from the ballroom level to the casino level. And there were other minor “traffic jams” caused by people trying to get their carts up the steps leading to the self-parking garage (after awkwardly getting them up the escalator to the overhead walkway). Next time, Harrah’s, before you pick an item to give, think about the consequences, not only for your guests, but also the extra labor it must have taken to get all those boxes into the ballroom, attach them to handcarts (another extra expense), and the additional personnel needed to monitor the escalators.

Showboat

Sunday Brunch May Be History
I received several e-mails from Seven Stars cardholders claiming that the complimentary brunch may soon serve – or already may have served – its last omelet. The little-publicized Seven Stars benefit regularly drew small crowds, but mostly the same people every week, according to some observers. Over the past six months I went twice to check it out, but found it disappointing – not so much from the standpoint of the food, but the caliber of the patrons. Several people brought their young children and too many were sneaking out food in everything from ladies’ purses to large shopping bags. If you can afford to play enough to earn a Seven Stars card, you shouldn’t have to depend on a complimentary buffet to pad your groceries for the following week.

Harrah’s Chester (Pennsylvania)

Changes At The Cove
Manager Michael DiTomassi will be sorely missed at the Cove. He made a real effort to know his customers and, through his professionalism and experience, made vast improvements in the overall atmosphere and service. That said, the latest menu (which dumps an earlier Tuscan concept) now offers discounts not only to Diamond and Seven Stars cardholders, but any “Total Rewards Member”. What was once a nice perk for top tier players is currently available to anyone who takes five minutes to sign up for a player’s card. Seven Stars cardholders, though, can get a free cocktail at the bar from 7 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, and there are other drink and appetizer specials. (The C-Bar also is running drink specials: $2 each for selected wines, beer and cocktails.)

Caffe Napoli To Open
Pizza, pastas and desserts will soon be available at Caffe Napoli, to be located in the area formerly occupied by Café Cappuccino. A temporary food cart with sandwiches and desserts has been set-up outside the construction wall.

General

‘Big Game’ Sunday
Since, legally, you can’t use “S—- B—” (it’s trademarked), several casinos are having viewing parties under various names. If you weren’t invited to a party, check with your local Seven Stars or Diamond Lounge to see if it might be open later than regular hours – especially if you’re in the Eastern or Central time zone. Several lounges that normally close at 8 or 9 p.m. will remain open through the game; they’re just not publicizing it.

The Agony Of The Feet
Whatever happened to “No Shoes, No Service”? I was having drinks on a Friday in the Seven Stars Lounge at Harrah’s last month when a woman sitting near me hardly let her backside hit the sofa before she kicked off her shoes and put her bare feet up on the cocktail table in front of her. An hour or so later I was having dinner at the Borgata’s SeaBlue and a woman sitting across from me had her shoes off and one leg tucked up under her behind. The next morning a woman was having coffee at Sammy D’s with her bare feet propped up in front of her on the bar stool seat. Leaving Sammy D’s I spotted another woman – again, barefoot – seated on a stool at Temptations, her shoes on the floor. I don’t mean to sound sexist – I’m just as appalled at men who insist on wearing baseball caps inside restaurants, lounges and bars (or worse, when they’re also wearing shorts and flip flops in the middle of winter). Enough already. If you want to dress (or undress) that way, stay home! (And, servers and managers, if you see this sort of behavior, please say something. It’s not only unsanitary, but disgusting to your other customers who are forced to see this.)

The End Is Near
While the calendar says “February” it’s nearly the end of the year in terms of using many of your Seven Stars benefits, e.g., annual trip, celebration dinner, gift, Signature Experience, etc. All benefits must be used by March 31, and certain trips can require up to 30 days to schedule. In particular, be sure to arrange your celebration dinner in advance through a host. I know of too many people who didn’t do that, only to finish their dinner and tell the server to charge it against their “Seven Stars Celebration Dinner”. It doesn’t work that way. What may happen is that the restaurant will use your comp dollars in the interim, but it can take months for those comps to be returned to your account. Please follow the rules. (And, by the way, whatever portion of the $500 you don’t spend, will no longer be available to you – and you can’t use the “leftover” for – or towards – your gratuity. However, if you dine at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in Las Vegas, you may be able to use any excess in their gift shop to purchase a cookbook or apron. Someone else told me he used his $500 comp for room service and worked out the total bill in advance so he spent exactly $500 by including a couple of bottles of liquor with his order. I haven’t confirmed this, but it might be something worth checking out.)

Survey Says: New Year’s Eve
I didn’t get a whole lot of feedback, but, based on comments regarding the Atlantic City celebrations, Caesars was the place to be. Rather than take up a lot of space in the newsletter, I am going to post a separate New Year’s Eve document on the Web site. Keep in mind that these are just some individual opinions of the various parties held at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City (as well as a “review” of the Don Rickles show), Showboat in Atlantic City, Bally’s in Atlantic City and Caesars in Windsor, Ontario. (Plus, there is a “bonus” report about the Golden Nugget dinner in Atlantic City.)

Survey: Vive La Différence!
What are you doing differently – if anything – in terms of your play this year? Being more conscious to space out your play throughout the year? Playing less because you don’t feel the Seven Stars (or Diamond) card is worth it? Trying other casinos, i.e., playing at non-Total Rewards casinos? Send me an e-mail (sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

Photo: Pulse of Las Vegas Blog

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Seven Stars Insider – October Edition

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider.  This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Harrah’s players.  Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.  There is lots of information in this edition, as usual, so read on for all the goods.

Harrah’s Ak-Chin (Phoenix)

Free Food and Drinks
Seven Stars cardholders get two free buffets every day, as well as additional complimentary cocktails and appetizers in the Diamond Lounge. There is no Seven Stars Lounge, but the Diamond Lounge opens at 2:30 p.m. daily. Sunday through Thursday, the lounge is open until 9 p.m., on Fridays and Saturdays it remains open until 11. Seven Stars cardholders may bring up to three guests and get up to eight free drinks and two appetizers daily; Diamond cardholders may bring just one guest and get four drinks and one appetizer daily. According to Ak-Chin’s Web site, the appetizers are large enough for two to share.

Harrah’s New Orleans

Signature Event Web Site
With the first weekend event beginning October 6, someone should check out the website . It’s nearly impossible to read. The color needs to be darker. It’s the same with the Seven Stars Signature Experiences online booklet:

Tunica

Buffet of Buffets Concept Expands
Joining Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the Buffet of Buffets in Tunica includes the Paula Deen Buffet at Harrah’s, the Village Square Buffet at the Horseshoe and the Big Kitchen Buffet at the Roadhouse. I’ve gained five pounds just writing this paragraph!
Lake Tahoe

Signature Event Gets Rave
I’m always pleased to publish positive feedback, so I was happy to receive this e-mail from a couple who attended the Seven Stars Signature Event in Lake Tahoe: “This was our first Seven Stars Event and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Everybody bent over backward to see to our needs. Even when there was some confusion (poor signage, conflicting directions, lack of sufficient limos) upon arrival at the Reno airport, it was more than made up for by the hospitality of the hosts and the beverages and snacks on the bus to Lake Tahoe. We stayed at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and the room was very good, the hotel clean, and the service superb. Meals were superior and the lounge provided an out of the way escape from the hustle and bustle of the casino. We took the cruise on the lake and it was a delightful afternoon. All in all, this experience provided incentive for us to maintain our Seven Stars status. Kudos to the Harrah’s/Harvey’s staffs at Lake Tahoe for a great job.”

Las Vegas

Linq To Link Imperial Palace and Flamingo
Work has begun on The Linq, a $550 million outdoor retail, dining and entertainment district patterned after The Grove in Los Angeles and anchored by the world’s tallest observation wheel. In addition, the Imperial Palace will be rethemed and renovated with a new facade, porte cochere, and hotel reception area. The casino also will be renamed; Caesars is currently leasing that name, and the lease expires next year. The project will be built along a private street that separates the Flamingo and Imperial Palace starting at the Strip and heading back to Audrie Street and Ida Avenue, which will be converted from public to private streets. The Linq’s centerpiece is the 550-foot observation wheel, dubbed the Las Vegas High Roller. The structure is nine feet taller than the Singapore Flyer and 107 feet taller than the London Eye. With 28 enclosed transparent sphere cabins that hold up to 40 passengers each, the wheel can transport an estimated 2,240 passenger per hour. It will take 30 minutes to make one revolution on the wheel. Caesars executives say they anticipate charging less than $20 per person to ride the observation wheel, and the first riders are expected to board sometime in 2013. In addition, the Linq will have 30 to 40 retail, dining and entertainment attractions in a 200,000 square foot open-air marketplace. About 70 percent of the mix will be restaurants and bars. As part of the project, the Flamingo will receive a new pedestrian entrance that connects the casino with The Linq and the current O’Shea’s will be demolished, with a new location to be rebuilt about 150 feet to the east within the rebranded Imperial Palace.

Fast Cash Math Error
Maybe I’m the one who should go back to school! At least for some math lessons. Last month I noted that Fast Cash tickets are now valid for 180 days – “two months longer than before”. Make that five months. Previously, tickets expired after 30 days; you now have six months. Sorry for the confusion!

What’s Next? Unlimited Purchases In Caesars Gift Shops?
After binging at the buffets and being entertained by your fill of shows, now you can party like a reality star. Skip those long lines with the new All Night Pass that gets you into Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace, Chateau Nightclub at Paris, Gallery Nightclub and Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon at Planet Hollywood, Crown Nightclub and VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub at Rio, and Carnaval Court at Harrah’s. Price is $44.99 for Total Rewards cardholders ($49.99 without the card). Blackout dates apply and there are other restrictions – like being young, thin, gorgeous and well dressed (just kidding about those, but there are “other restrictions”).

Caesars Palace

Video Poker vs. Penny Slots
I’m not a video poker player, but one reader reports that the casino seems to have replaced a number of $1-$2-$5 VP machines with penny slots. The 20-year Caesars Palace veteran writes that, if the trend continues, he’ll take his Seven Stars card – and his play – elsewhere.

Flamingo

Buffett of Buffetts: Slot Machines In Paradise (or is that, ‘Pair Of Dice’?)
The new “Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino” inside the Flamingo is scheduled to be open by the time you see this. You can read all about it, and view some artist renderings. Grand opening events (in the form of street parties) will be held October 15 and 22 – coincidentally, the same dates Buffett is performing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. (By the way, this cleverly disguised “Pulse of Las Vegas Blog” is produced by Caesars Entertainment. At first glance, you’d think it was written by some opinionated self-appointed “hack” – like me! – but it’s actually a great promotional tool for the Caesars properties in Las Vegas.)

Atlantic City

Hide and Go Shrimp (and other rumors)
In any environment where stakeholders aren’t kept up-to-date, rumors become rampant. [If either of these rumors turns out to be true, you heard it here first (or second).]

For example:

· Shrimp cocktail is going to disappear from the menu at the Diamond Lounges – at least during the week and continuing through Memorial Day weekend. Considering that those shrimp are the centerpiece of the promotional campaign justifying the 10 comp dollar per person charge for certain players, it would seem like an unwise decision.
· The charge for Diamond Lounge admission is going to increase to 15 comp dollars per person. Doubtful. That said, in my opinion, the food quality in the lounges continues to deteriorate – or, at the very least, is inconsistent. Yes, there are more entrée choices, but nothing very interesting or well prepared. A lunch last month at Caesars was practically inedible. Grilled chicken breasts were overcooked and dry, “pizza” was topped with an overwhelmingly strong barbecue sauce instead of tomatoes, and an interesting individual serving of eggplant parmesan would have been fine if it had been hot. Then, a week or so later, they were carving the juiciest, most tender turkey breast I’ve ever had. Go figure! [By the way, my offer to host any Caesars executive for a free meal at the Borgata’s Amphora Lounge still stands. Now that’s a player’s lounge that knows how to treat its customers!]

TR Insider Insight
Caesars seems to be suffering from a multiple-personality disorder. . .and it’s passing it on to some of its customers. I guess it’s not enough that I am a Seven Stars cardholder and – after one overnight visit to the casino – a member of the Harrah’s Joliet General Manager’s Club. According to an invitation I received, I now have “The Exclusive Access Of A TR Insider”. To maintain this status, all I have to do is earn a minimum of 7,500 Base Reward Credits® every quarter. How am I going to benefit from this? “From October to December [I’ll] have access to special events at Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Showboat and Bally’s Atlantic City. [Caesars has] created private sweepstakes, unique parties, select promotions and tournaments for our TR Insiders.” Gosh, sort of sounds like what I’m getting with my Seven Stars card. In all seriousness, this TR Insider is just another variation of the General Manager Clubs I wrote about last month. It’s a way for Caesars to recognize those players who earn more than the 11,000 tier points required for Diamond, but not enough for Seven Stars – yet, apparently, Seven Stars cardholders are included in the fun. To get an initial invitation, players had to have earned 7,500 tier points from April 1 through June 30. But, back to that invitation, why did everyone receive it just about a week prior to the Welcome Reception? Even several hosts I spoke with weren’t aware of this program until they received an e-mail around September 10 – again, just a week before the inaugural event on September 17. And, while it’s pretty obvious that the “TR” refers to Total Rewards, a Google search on “TR Insider” brings up articles on insider trading within Tootsie Roll Industries. [TR is the New York Stock Exchange trading symbol for Tootsie Roll Industries.] And, finally, there’s that pesky grammar problem Caesars has. It reared its ugly head in the invitation’s message from Regional President Don Marrandino: “As a member of our brand new TR INSIDER loyalty club, I personally invite you to indulge in the many exciting and exclusive events we have planned for you.” I think he meant to say something like, “Welcome to our brand new TR INSIDER loyalty club. I personally invite you to indulge in the many exciting and exclusive events we have planned for you.” [It’s not Mr. Marrandino who’s a member of the club.] It’s a common error, but I expect better from Caesars.

So, how was the Welcoming Reception? Those who attended the 5 p.m. dinner reported extraordinarily long lines to register, to get a cocktail and even to enter the ballrooms. [The event was so well attended, it had to be moved from its original location in Bally’s Traymore Ballroom to separate concurrent dinners in the Ocean and Grand Ballrooms.] I inadvertently avoided the long registration line by meeting some friends who attended the early dinner. Registration remained open after the 5 o’clock dinner commenced, and continued through the start of the second, 8 p.m., dinner. I also avoided the long lines at the bars during the cocktail hour by having drinks in the nearby Diamond Lounge – at least it offered a place to sit down, and some pretzels and shrimp to nibble on. And, while a lot of folks were not happy with fish as one of the entrées, I thought the sea bass and its accompanying petite filet mignon were perfectly cooked. As a matter of fact, the staff at Bally’s needs to be commended for serving nearly 3,000 people in two back-to-back seatings. What the folks at Caesars missed, though, was the opportunity to fully explain the benefits of this new loyalty program. Guests to whom I spoke did not seem impressed with what they would get for their play; many of them said they weren’t really sure why they were there because they rarely earn more tier points than the basic 11, 000 to qualify for Diamond. It will be interesting to see what this first quarter offers us new TR Insiders. Also, don’t be surprised if this isn’t the first step to qualifying (and requalifying) on a semi-annual basis, i.e., every six months, for tier status. Caesars executives have discussed this in the past; Golden Nugget and Resorts already operate on this system.

Diamond Lounge Passes
There was lots of head-scratching last month when many Seven Stars and high-level Diamond cardholders received coupons for free admission to the Diamond Lounges at any of the Atlantic City casinos. Since they receive free admission by virtue of their level of play, why waste money printing and mailing the coupons? Many of those who don’t qualify for free admission were surprised to learn that the coupon was good for just one person, and not the cardholder and a guest. All in all, a little confusing.

Buffet Of Buffets Policy Change
You may not have noticed the small print addition to the signs, but you now can use comp dollars to pay for the Buffet of Buffets. Previously, this was an all-cash deal.

Mail Pattern Boldness
It makes no sense: Early in September I received my booklet of October offers from Bally’s, but on September 14 I received an offer for a giveaway three days later at Caesars on the 17th. It turned out that I already would be there because of the TR Insider dinner (see above), but it seems like Caesars is cutting it close with their mailings. Considering the huge attendance at the TR Insider dinner, apparently, short notice is not a problem for lots of people. A week later, though, I noticed an invitation on my Total Rewards Web site for a Boardwalk Empire dinner (see below). That invitation never arrived in the mail. Lesson: Check the Web site periodically.

Free Parking – ID May Be Required
The Seven Stars/Diamond Express lanes seem to be closed more frequently at Caesars self-parking lots. As a matter of fact, be prepared (but not always!) to show ID when you exit. I’ve also heard reports about ID checks at Harrah’s valet. In fairness to Caesars, my guess is that too many people are “sharing” their player’s cards, or players (and employees) trying to save a few bucks are savvy enough to pick-up discarded cards in the casino, realizing the monetary value of the complimentary parking. ID is required for practically every other transaction involving your player’s card, so why not parking? Caesars, just be consistent, so we all can be prepared. For us guys, it can take a while to unbuckle our seatbelts, fish out our wallets and take out our driver’s licenses – further slowing the exit process. (Borgata and Taj Mahal often require ID, too, but, like Caesars, they are not consistent.)

Police Patrolling Parking Garages
Police are now patrolling casino parking garages after a carjacking last month left a man dead and a woman injured. The announcement was made shortly before the last of the three suspects in the carjacking at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort’s parking garage made his first appearance in court. The attack was the second at the Taj Mahal garage in 16 months. It brought the issue of casino parking garage safety to the forefront.

Bally’s

Photo-Op-Oly
Despite all the warning signs, lots of children (and adults!) are climbing all over the giant Monopoly game pieces at the Boardwalk entrance to Bally’s. If this display really does pose a danger, then Bally’s needs to put some sort of fence around it or post a security guard out there to monitor it. All the disclaimers in the world aren’t going to stop some angry parents from filing a lawsuit when their kid falls and breaks an arm.

Nanking Opens Seventh Location
Formerly Red Pearl (and formerly Mr. Ming’s), Nanking is now open and offers a unique fusion of Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines. Another “non-chain” chain, Nanking also has locations in Jersey City, as well as Times Square and Long Island.

Caesars

Sound Decisions Mar Otherwise Flawless Evening
For a party celebrating the premier of the second season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the Palladium Ballroom could not have looked lovelier – hundreds, no make that thousands, of red carnations punctuated the room in arrangements high and low, and in “kissing balls” suspended from elaborate candelabra. Complementing the elegant florals were rich red and gold fabric panels suspended around the perimeter, as well as other large set pieces – all contributing to the look of a 1920s supper club. The menu, while simple, included “classics” like Waldorf salad, and filet mignon “Oscar” (crabmeat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce). The chocolate dessert was so rich, all I could handle was a couple bites. But the music! Does Caesars employee health plan not cover hearing tests? Since everyone else at my table was too embarrassed to say anything, I spoke to no less than three people – including the woman who supposedly was in charge of the event. I even followed her as she talked to the sound engineer, but, still, the music was deafening. You couldn’t hold a conversation with the person sitting next to you, let alone anyone else at your table. Even the bartenders were complaining because they couldn’t hear anyone’s order. And why a band – excellent as they were – playing all contemporary music? How much more appropriate it would have been to feature music from the period. Ironically, as I was leaving the casino, I spotted that perfect band, playing to passers-by in Caesars lobby. Sadly, no one could have cared less.

Wipe Out
Someone is spending way too much time watching TV. When I went to check-out of my room last month, I noticed that there were no numbers on the remote:

Chew The Fat – Or The Nonfat – With A Chef
It would have been nice had someone told us in advance, but from 6 to 7 p.m. on Friday nights the Seven Stars Lounge has been featuring – and will continue to feature for the first two Fridays this month – celebrity chefs mixing and mingling with customers, as well as preparing special dishes. From 6 to 11, the kitchen also serves menu items selected by the chef du jour. On October 7, you can meet Chris Scarduzio (of his namesake restaurant at Showboat, as well as Mia at Caesars and Table 31 in Philadelphia); October 14, Chef Jerry [Longo] from Café Longo in Providence, R.I., will appear. There’s a large sign around the corner from the Diamond Lounge near the circular elevator leading to the top floor, but, unless you happened to be walking that way, you’d never know it was there.
And, Speaking Of The Seven Stars Lounge. . .

I’m happy to report that things have improved immensely at the Seven Stars Lounge. Maybe it was because it was Friday night, maybe it was because of the aforementioned celebrity chef feature, but the place had a certain vibe it had been missing. My server Chris was as professional as anyone working at a first-class gourmet restaurant and, I understand you can finally get a bowl of mixed nuts at the bar! The seating situation is still the same, and I didn’t get to check if the bartenders are now serving food. And, yes, and there are still those tiny portions, but, folks, these Seven Stars Lounges were never meant to be a substitute for a “real dinner”. If you want a more substantial meal, head down to the Diamond Lounge or go to a restaurant.

‘R’ You Seeing What I’m Seeing?
Either they changed the name of the Centurion Tower, or someone in Caesars sign department doesn’t know how to spell. (This is a two-sided sign, and it’s the same on the other side.)

Up, Up and Aware – Not!
The last weekend in September only three of the six elevators in the Centurion Tower required a room key to access a guestroom floor. I’m still not convinced that requiring a room key does anything to improve security – especially since, as long as one person inserts his/her key, everyone else can punch away at the floor buttons. It’s especially annoying if you have a bunch of packages in your arms and can’t get to your key – and that’s always when you’re the only one in the elevator!

Harrah’s Resort

No Longer Seeing Reflections
By the end of the year, the BR Guest Hospitality folks will gobble up yet another dining area in a Caesars-owned casino. Promising a quick turnaround during the month of December, Sammy D’s – I hope I got that correct – will open in the space currently occupied by Reflections. Watch for more details.
Harrah’s Chester (Pennsylvania)

‘Royalty’ For Loyalty
A mailing announcing this month’s “King and Queen of Chester” promotion begins with, “Here Ye, Here Ye”. I think the writer meant, “Hear Ye, Hear Ye”. Also, despite the concluding well wishes for “Maidens”, I assume the promotion is open to married ladies, as well.

Bring Your Coupons!
You no longer can use the excuse that your free play coupons got lost in the mail, your dog ate them, or you forgot to bring them. To its credit, Harrah’s won’t issue replacements. Apparently, too many people were taking advantage of the previous system (including a former employee – see below), frequently causing long lines at the Total Rewards desk.

Watch Your Coupons!
An employee allegedly rewarded himself with more than $20,000 in free play coupons, according to Pennsylvania State Police. The suspect was caught stealing $4,320 in coupons, and later admitted to stealing about $16,000 more since February, according to a state police press release. The incident occurred one Saturday last month about 1 a.m. and was captured on surveillance video. The suspect reportedly told authorities he gave the coupons to another, unidentified person. He was arrested and charged with theft and related offenses. An investigation by Trooper Christian Picard is continuing.

Here Yesterday, Gone Today
The complimentary appetizer for Seven Stars cardholders and their guest(s) is no longer being served at Temptations Buffet; however, certain eligible purchases at Club Cappuccino entitle cardholders to a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage. Also, End Zone is currently offering Seven Stars and Diamond cardholders a chance to play “Plinko”. You may get $1, $5 or $10 off your check – then, again, you may get nothing, but it’s a fun way to begin your meal.

General
That’s Harrah’s – With Two Rs
Browsing through the Total Rewards online catalog, I discovered this little blunder:

Maybe they could use that extra ‘R’ from the misspelled Centurion Tower sign at Caesars in Atlantic City.

Hats Off. . .
It’s happening everywhere, but I am tired of seeing gentlemen (and I use that term very loosely) wearing hats and baseball caps indoors – particularly in restaurants. Caesars could do all of us a big favor by posting signs at the entrances to its restaurants, buffets, and Diamond and Seven Stars Lounges telling men that hats must be removed before entering. And, while they’re at it, ban cellphone use – or at least ask that they be set on “vibrate”; then require guests to take their calls outside. It’s unlikely that this will happen, but we can hope.

Playing A Round
The complimentary quarterly rounds of golf at the Atlantic City Country Club are only for Seven Stars cardholders whose “home casino” is located in Atlantic City or Harrah’s Chester. Those Seven Stars cardholders from outside that area who might be planning a trip to Atlantic City should contact a host, though. Especially if it’s off-season, a complimentary golf outing may be arranged. And, unlike the monthly spa credit at the Grand in Biloxi, Miss., the quarterly spa credit in Atlantic City is available only to “locals”.

David Norton Update
According to LinkedIn.com , David Norton, former senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Caesars Entertainment, is now managing director of David Norton Consulting in Las Vegas. The company is “[e]ngaging with several world class clients on marketing activities including loyalty, CRM, technology, org design and performance management, sales teams, Branding and digital and emerging channels.” CRM is “customer relationship management”; “org design” refers, I assume, to organizations; but “Branding” has nothing to do with cattle.

Harrah’s Message Board
Not sure how many of you are aware of this message board:

harrahscasinos@yahoogroups.com. (ED: This is not a URL)

Several months ago I signed up just to monitor what folks are saying and to pick up a tip or two. Last month I responded to the group when someone asked details about cruise certificates he wanted to “purchase” with Reward Credits from the Total Rewards Catalog. The poster said he couldn’t get the details he required either by asking his host, the Total Rewards Center at his home casino or casino marketing. Here’s an excerpt:

Maybe I am not aggressive enough, but I have asked more than one host at more than one property. They refer me to Total Rewards who then refers me to casino marketing who then refers me to either NCL or back to the host. At the end of day no one seems to be able to tell me anything and I am tired of going in circles. I am not sure how I can force my host to investigate. The one host who offered something up framed it in “my understanding is” which does not help at all. I’ve lost a decent chunk of change to [Caesars] earning my Rewards Credits. It is really frustrating that it is so difficult to find out what I am actually purchasing with those credits. Computers lack a lot of the specs I am interested in. I have no idea what I get with the cruise certificates and what the restrictions are. Please, find a way to provide more information about the items in the catalog. At least having an Internet portal with more information would be very helpful.

While I didn’t mean to be rude, I politely suggested that these message boards [or this newsletter, or the Seven Stars Insider Web site, for that matter] are not the place to get “official” answers to questions about Total Rewards, Rewards Credit purchases, rules for the Great Race, etc. I further suggested that players need to tell their hosts that “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer. “Rather than use hosts as glorified secretaries to book your hotel and dining reservations,” I wrote, “let them do the legwork and research, then get you an answer in writing.” Once again, as I’ve written in the past, Caesars needs a dedicated toll-free phone line for its Seven Stars (and Diamond) cardholders.

Survey: Old vs New Slots?
Slot players, are you “addicted” to one or two machines, or do you get bored after a while and search out the latest additions to the casino floor? I had an interesting discussion on this topic recently, and thought I would informally poll readers. Send me an e-mail (sevenstarsinsider@gmail.com ) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher
Seven Stars Insider

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