In the weeks leading up to opening day at the Cosmopolitan, gaming blogs and message boards vibrated with a scandalous rumor: The new Strip megaresort would deal a bastardized version of Vegas’ signature table game. Bettors would face tighter rules and be shortchanged on each blackjack. For industry observers, it was not unlike learning that all dishes in the resort’s upscale restaurants would be made with MSG.
But the PR nightmare never came to pass. On opening night, Cosmo’s run-of-the-mill blackjack game had fairly common rules, with one small caveat: eight decks rather than the customary six. Crisis averted, right? Yes and no. The $3.9 billion property still faces uncommon challenges in marketing its core product. With no database of loyal players, the Deutsche Bank-owned resort is an island nation staring down superpowers such as MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. Gaming analyst Bill Lerner observes, “They need to have a solid base, which is something this entity will be building from scratch. It will take some time before it will be disruptive on the gaming side.”
To accelerate that process, the casino has made some wise early moves. It hired away dozens of the best dealers from Wynn Las Vegas and other swanky joints, and it introduced a loyalty program that rewards all spending—not just gambling. But if Cosmo really wants to attract droves of serious bettors, here’s one surefire way: Loosen up those rules.