That big mean green

Yesterday, we reported on British Columbia Lottery Corp.'s controversial gold player card, which corporation representatives have described as a customer loyalty program. Said communications officer Shelly Marsh, "You see (such programs) at Petro-Canada, where you get points for filling up with gas. Or, at Save-On-Foods, where you get points for groceries." The only difference, according to the corporation: with this card, you earn points for gambling. But University of Lethbridge professor Robert Williams, research coordinator for the Alberta Gaming Research Institute, doesn't agree.

South of the border, slot club cards can only be used at the casino that issues them. And that means players won't receive reward points unless they continue to spend money at that casino. It's a way "to retain patronage against your competitiors," Prof. Williams explained.

Here in British Columbia though, the lottery corporation's cards plugs into any slot machine in the province - whether it's at an establishment run by Gateway Casinos Ltd., Great Canadian Gaming Corp. or another "gaming service provider." So there is no loyalty aspect to the program - unless it's to encourage players to spend their gambling dollars in British Columbia rather than another jurisidiction. Still, though, says Prof. Williams. "It's a bit of an odd thing to introduce," he added, referring to the gold card. "The only real potential benefit is to increase play."

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