Special Event Planning: Table Games Spreads, Game Mix, and Pricing

Mar 9, 2017

Planning for special events is important for maximizing profits as these periods naturally have high demand and high yielding opportunities. A simple, but effective approach for table games operators is as follows:

– Review the same period from last year
– Analyze headcounts by time of day
– Open to capacity during the busiest hours
– Increase base pricing relative to the increase in win/drop

Some operators give floor staff flexibility to adjust pricing dynamically in response to demand, while others have special licenses allowing them to temporarily increase table capacity during these busy periods.

While this strategy will increase profits, is money still being left on the table due to the wrong game mix, poor pricing, insufficient staffing or improper scheduling?

Optimal Game Mix

Certain special events can attract distinct types of clientele. During Chinese New Year, for example, operators will allocate additional floor space and staffing for games catered to the Asian market. A trade show, sporting event, or concert could attract a very different market. What games should we open, and how many of each? What is the trade-off between opening additional blackjack vs additional roulette tables?

In these instances, the game preference of the patrons should also be analyzed along with the volume as only reviewing total patron volume is not sufficient. By better segmenting patron demand by game, the operator can better allocate resources.

Misallocation of resources will result in missed incremental revenue opportunities.

Pricing Strategy

A common thread among operators today is the answer to ideal table pricing during high demand periods. High demand usually dictates higher pricing, but how much? Pricing too low may sacrifice time on device for higher value segments, and pricing too high could lead to alienating grind play. Either extreme will result in lost revenue. What is the right balance and what is the opportunity cost of getting it wrong?

More advanced operators typically schedule base pricing, along with automated dynamic pricing alerts which allow pricing to fluctuate based on real-time demand. This limits the risk of being too aggressive while ensuring that the operations managers are responding, in tune with real-time demand conditions.

Spreads and Staffing

Offering more table hours is usually a safe bet during special events, but how many, and at what times of the day? Some events result in a broad increase in demand across all segments such as public holidays and a broad increase in spread may be sufficient. However, some events, such as Super Bowl Sunday, results in increased demand for only certain time windows. Typically, demand is high before and after the game and drops sharply during the four hours when the game is in progress.

In these scenarios, maintaining a full spread during low demand periods results in an inefficient use of labor.

The chart below shows the demand for roulette and the table open hours for a North American property on Super Bowl Sunday.

Maintaining a full spread between 3pm and 8pm would have resulted in wasted labor. During peak periods from 12pm to 3pm and again 8pm to 1am, the operator can introduce higher pricing given that player demand exceeds table capacity.

Staffing is also another challenge during holidays. Holiday periods can be most sought after by employees to book time off. Operators must balance the requests for time off, with the risk of being underspread. On the other hand, overstaffing will result in lower employee morale and wasted labor.  

Regular staffing must consider factors such as seniority, collective agreements, and absenteeism. These constraints become exacerbated during special events.

A Better Approach

As an operator looking to maximize financial performance and the guest experience during holidays and special events, consider the following framework:

1. Analyze patrons at a more granular level of detail. Total patron volume isn’t sufficient. Segment patron demand by game type and average wagers to better classify customers and use this data to determine optimal game mix and pricing.

2. Adapt the special event roster to cater to demand during similar holidays. Automated optimization software can use historical data to find the best combinations of shifts to match demand.

3. Prioritize. All games are not equal. With a profit model for each game, as an operator, you can better allocate constrained resources to your most profitable assets.  

Effective data collection and proper use of automated yielding software can ensure that an operator is able to maximize their profit during these high demand events by optimizing game offerings, pricing, and spreads.

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Paul Stephens

With over 10 years experience in data analytics, client success, and table optimization, Paul has worked with many casinos to enhance their table games operations. He earned his Honors Bachelors in Math, Actuarial Science at the renowned University of Waterloo.

Ari Mizrachi

As SVP and Head of North America Business, Ari brings over 15 years of operations experience across multiple jurisdictions in North America including Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Ari oversees Tangam’s global client base and helps operators adopt yield management best practices.

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