Soaring Eagle and Saganing Eagles Landing have made Michigan a slot players’ paradise
By Rob Wiser
“I’ve always believed that in the long run, you generate more revenue by providing players with better paybacks. By giving players additional value for their money, their time on the device increases, which leads to a better gaming experience.” – Andy Asselin
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe owns and operates two terrific gaming properties in Michigan: Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, which is located just outside of Mt. Pleasant and is considered to be the largest casino in the Midwest; and Saganing Eagles Landing Casino, which you’ll find just outside the city of Standish.
While both properties offer a variety of games and amenities, slot players should be particularly excited about a special honor they recently received. Soaring Eagle and Saganing Eagles Landing have been officially inducted into the Loose Slots Certification Program established by Strictly Slots, the sister publication of Casino Player. This program was created several years ago to provide casinos with a third-party verification method to prove that their slot paybacks really are as high as they say.
Since then, a number of major casinos have participated in the program, including Trump Marina in Atlantic City (now Golden Nugget Atlantic City); the Peppermill in Reno; Fantasy Springs in Palm Springs; Valley View in Southern California; Paragon Casino Resort in Louisiana; Meskwaki Casino in Iowa; the ships of the Norwegian Cruise Line; and Santa Ana Star Casino in New Mexico.
To learn more about the exceptional efforts the Saginaw Chippewa tribe is making to attract players to its casinos, we spoke with Andy Asselin, who has been the CEO of Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort for five years. Prior to holding this position, Asselin served as the senior VP and general manager of the Viejas Casino and the Flamingo Hilton Reno.
Tell us about the process of getting certified for your loose slots. How did it come about, and how was the “looseness” of your slots verified?
I’ve always believed that in the long run, you generate more revenue by providing players with better paybacks. By giving players additional value for their money, their time on the device increases, which leads to a better gaming experience. Back in the 1980s and 1990s when I worked at the Reno Hilton and Flamingo Hilton Reno, we posted signs on all of our dollar slots so the public could see the exact hold percentage of each machine. This is the same concept that we carried over to our “Certified Hot” program. Before beginning “Certified Hot,” we contacted the slot manufacturers and signed agreements with them which allowed us to use their names and logos in our “Certified Hot” program, provided we set each machine at its loosest payback. In addition, we contacted Strictly Slots magazine (the sister publication of Casino Player) so that we could have a third party verify the looseness of our machines.
In the early days, there was only one game and one denomination in each box, so it was easy to post the exact payback on the machine. In today’s world, there are multiple games and multiple denominations in each box, which makes it impossible to post each individual payback on each machine. Therefore, our “Certified Hot” machines are set with the program that provides our guests with highest available payback for each available theme.
Can you give us some details on your slot floor? How many games do you offer, what denominations are they available in, and how many of them earned this special certification?
Soaring Eagle has over 4,200 slots which range from pennies to $100 machines. Over 900 of our machines are “Certified Hot.” “Certified Hot” machines are available in penny to $5 denominations.
Saganing, meanwhile, has over 850 slots ranging from pennies to $10. Approximately 100 of Saganing’s machines are “Certified Hot,” and they’re available in penny to $5 denominations.
Tell us about some of your newest slot machines, and the ones that are currently most popular with your players.
Our most popular games are by Konami. Our newest games include Deal or No Deal, Sex in the City, Amazing Race, Dirty Dancing, Wizard of Oz, and Zeus 3.
Give us an overview of Soaring Eagle and Saganing Eagles Landing—your overall number of games and the game mix, and what they offer beyond their casinos.
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is mid-Michigan’s destination for entertainment and gaming. It offers 4,200 slot machines; over 70 table games; Bingo; live Keno; a 3,200 seat entertainment hall; three restaurants; 514 AAA four diamond rooms; a full service spa; and large banquet and conference rooms.
Saganing Eagles Landing Casino, which is located on the eastern side of Michigan, is a comfortable gaming facility that offers just over 800 slot machines, a Subway (sandwich shop), and a local in-house eatery.
Where do your customers generally come from?
The customer base for both properties [typically] comes from within a one-hour radius surrounding the properties. However, because of the Certified Hot program, we’re now seeing many visitors that live two hours from each place. Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is and always will be positioned as your place for the ultimate getaway, and to experience more. Saganing Eagles Landing Casino is positioned as your comfortable place to get away for a few hours and play one of your favorite slot machines.
You’ve got a popular players club as well—what kind of benefits does it give players?
The Certified Hot Club offers the best rewards in the state of Michigan. At Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, you’re able to use your points and comp dollars for every amenity in the building. Our Certified Hot Club members also receive the monthly Eagle Insider, which contains information and free offers for promotional entries, free play, free rooms, dining offers, Bingo, and concert tickets. Of course, offers vary based on your play—but that’s the most exciting part of our rewards program. No longer do you have to wait six months to a year to be rewarded for your play, because we provide instant monthly rewards. From weekly free play to free rooms in our AAA four diamond resort, our guests will not be disappointed.
The Certified Hot Club for Saganing Eagles Landing Casino also allows guests to use their points and comp dollars for every amenity in the building. Members are able to use their points and comp dollars for free play, gift shop purchases, promotional entries, and food at Subway and the in-house eatery. Saganing Eagles Landing Casino also sends out monthly mailers to their players which reward them with free play each month just for being a member.
Can you tell us anything about upcoming events or promotions that players will want to know about?
This month at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, you can win a chance to take you and three guests to one of four Disney resorts all over the world in our Dream Vacation Giveaway. Over $103,000 in cash and prizes will be distributed by this promotion. All new Certified Hot Club members receive $10 in free play just for signing up. Additionally, this month we also offer weekly buy-in slot tournaments with 100% payback, as well as Random Riches, Birthday, and Anniversary promotions. Every Thursday we offer a Seniors Day promotion from 12pm to 3pm and give away $100 to three winners hourly. And don’t miss out on our entertainment lineup this month, as we have Chris Young, Chicago, Jim Gaffigan, Bret Michaels, Boyz II Men featuring Jagged Edge, and Kenny Rogers.
At Saganing Eagles Landing Casino, you can take part in “Christmas 4 Kids” this month, where we’re donating toys for 30 entries to be part of a drawing on December 11 at 7pm. We’ll draw 10 winners for $250 cash. Then, you can take part in “Tech the Halls” and win cash money and awesome high-tech prizes such as a 42” TV, XBOX 360, and much more. And every month, our players can participate in our Birthday, Anniversary, and seniors’ promotions.