Las Vegas Sun

July 23, 2014

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Poaching customers’ names can toast some casino hosts

Customer lists may not be made of platinum but they are among the most valuable assets a casino company owns.

Such lists feature contact information for thousands of high-rollers or even millions of average players.

For the select few hosts with access to the lists, taking them to a new job is easy, and no doubt tempting.

It's not unusual for hosts to poach the highest of high-rollers, who are well known. Hosts can be hired be competitors for their personal relationships with these whales, who often follow their hosts to other properties. But taking master lists, besides being a crime, is a huge gamble.

"If you do something like that you are toast in this industry," one casino insider said. "Your reputation is shot. It's like embezzling money from a bank. It's going to be hard to go work for another bank after that."

Monday, three casino workers were indicted in New Jersey Monday on charges that they stole a list of top-level players from the Tropicana in Atlantic City before they left for other casinos.

One of them allegedly downloaded a list of more than 20,300 customers onto compact disks. The theft wasn’t discovered until after he became a marketing manager at Bellagio and was caught trying to mail the list from its mailroom, according to New Jersey prosecutors.

A few years ago, Harrah's Entertainment settled a lawsuit against Station Casinos that accused a host at Station's Thunder Valley casino of stealing a list of top customers from her former employer Harrah's Reno.

Despite the risk of getting caught, the theft of customer lists is more commonplace than you might think, industry insiders concede.

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