The Delta Method
It may be a rustic Louisiana racino, but Delta Downs is one of Boyd Gaming’s top properties. Here’s why.
by Karrie L. Zukowski & J. Phillip Vogel
Nestled on the Texas border—about two hours drive from Houston, Texas—the town of Vinton, Louisiana is home to one of the most charming and memorable places a gambler could hope to visit: Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel. If you haven’t been there, frankly, you’re missing out on what a casino experience should be.
A flawless combination of rustic charm and modern convenience, Delta Downs proudly touts its down-home appeal and almost family style approach to gaming. This is not your overbearing, neon lit, over-the-top Vegas mega-casino.
“It’s really about southern hospitality here—our employees truly take care of customers and they enjoy doing it,” said Tina Matte, Player Development Director at Delta Downs. “I think that if you go to our competitors, you might see some things that are much more mechanical in nature. The people who work here want to be here, and they enjoy helping people and making people happy. I think that’s why so many of our customers stick with us, rather than go someplace flashier. It’s the way we treat our players.”
The casino is decorated with a blue sky mural and the upper walls are adorned with Louisiana style building facades to give the casino an outdoor feel. It’s a warm, inviting, and exciting place to spend the evening playing your favorite slots or betting on the horses. You can have a great meal at any one of their five restaurants, take in a show, have fun and probably even make some friends among the gregarious staff. Seriously, there’s a pretty good chance at some point in the evening you’re gonna get a hug.
“Our focus is we’re down to earth, home away from home. Some people like the glitz of Vegas, and some people just like to feel at home when they come in, get treated very well and be remembered,” said Steve Kuypers, Vice President and General Manager of Delta Downs. “On a Saturday night you have no idea how many hugs are given by team members to players. It’s unbelievable—you have to be here to see it.”
Hot Slots and Horseplay
Boasting an extensive collection of the most popular slots and video machines—including a separate high-limit area—Delta Downs combines fast action and friendly service to provide an exceptional playground for slot enthusiasts. “We have 1,600 slots. While we are a racetrack as well, basically we’re an all slots casinos. In our market that’s what makes us stand out the most,” said Adrian King, Regional Director of Marketing for Boyd Gaming. “Every month we’re getting in new games—we’re constantly evaluating the floor.”
It’s that level of attention that makes Delta Downs a special place for slot players. You can take a spin down Penny Lane, where there are more bonuses, more often. Or focus in on an ever-widening range of the hottest new games, soaking in the incredible graphics and sounds. But if you’re more of an old school slot purist, you can still settle in with a comfortable favorite that you’ve been playing for years.
“In a nutshell we’ve got a great combination of the old and the new. So if you want to play the new multi-line 3D video slots or old school games we have those. While on one hand we want to keep it current, because there are a lot of new things that come out, we also realize it’s not what the casino wants, it’s what the guest wants,” said King. “If the guests want older single line, 3-reel games, and a lot of them are playing it, we’ll go through heaven and hell to make sure we keep that game running.”
Even though the slots side of the equation is a bigger draw for most visitors, at its roots Delta Downs is a racetrack and has a loyal—even generational—following for horse racing. They offer perhaps the best live racing in the region and work diligently to support their racing and racing fans, creating unique events like the recently held the 12th running of the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot.
“The $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot is the centerpiece of an 11-race program that features eight stakes races, two graded stakes, and over $2.3 million in total purse money,” said Kuypers. “We are ecstatic about Delta Downs’ richest race day of the year. The winner of [the] main event earns a $600,000 paycheck and 10 points toward a possible starting position in next year’s Kentucky Derby by way of the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ series.”
Delta Downs offers ample seating in grandstands and a state-of-the art track and betting parlor. Wagering via simulcast is 364 days a year (Closed Christmas Day) on events from coast to coast and around the world. The OTB parlor even includes a glass enclosed non-smoking area to provide for all guests’ comfort. For live racing, amenities include covered track patio seating, covered seating in paddock, and a climate controlled grandstand with reserved seating.
Kuypers added. “We really went out and worked with the trainers, the owners to find out what we could do to make Delta Downs the #1 nighttime track. And once again we’re the only track in the country that’s up year over year.”
Staying’s Half the Fun
Everything that Delta Downs does is warm, inviting, and with the guest in mind. And their quaint hotel with more than 200 delightfully appointed rooms is certainly no exception to the rule.
The modern style of the Deluxe Rooms feature soothing browns with vibrant splashes of color to create an inviting atmosphere. The rooms come equipped with a king or two queen beds, sitting area, in-room safe, flat screen cable TV, a spacious bathroom with stand-alone glass shower, refrigerator and complimentary high speed Internet access. The Mini Suites offer the same soothing atmosphere and extras, but with 534 square feet of space, a king sized bed and a separate Jacuzzi tub.
For a bit of luxury choose the One Bed Room Suite or the Super Suite. The one bedroom suite has 609 square feet of living space with a king bedroom, plush armchair, spacious bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower, separate Jacuzzi tub, full bath amenities, sitting area, table and chairs, two flat screen TVs, microwave, wet bar, refrigerator and two complimentary deluxe robes. The Super Suite is 908 square feet with a spacious sitting area, dining table, desk, separate half bath, plus all of the other extras Delta Downs offers guests.
Ain’t No Party Like a Delta Downs Party
While so much of what Delta Downs does is unique and geared for their audience, perhaps nothing says more about the property than their “special” events—where just about everyone on the floor is dressed in some wacky costume, with themes ranging from Christmas elves during the holidays to campy television shows from the 70s and 80s . And the guests just adore it.
“There are times where everyone is all in cowboy gear. Or if it’s a 70s party—like what we did for New Year’s Eve—we had a Starsky & Hutch theme. It’s just a lot of fun,” said Matte.
King agreed, recalling his recent costume “I had a big 70s fro, one of those leisure suits, and the big high heel shoes with the fish in the heels,” laughed King. “That was a painful experience!”
How they managed to get a hold of the shoes is anyone’s guess.
“From a brand perspective, there ain’t no party like a Delta Downs party. But to us, it makes it fun. Any casino can offer a car giveaway or cash in the mail.”
Even the boss isn’t immune to the well-conceived shenanigans. “I’ll even dress up—we do a lot of dress up here. Our promotions are to die for. You can’t just have a casino and expect people to come.”
Delta Downs Racetrack Casino& Hotel has a mix of gaming excitement, horse racing action and pageantry, multi-screen off-track betting, live entertainment and delicious food. But what shines through most are the property’s incredible staff and their dedication to the players.
“This is truly the best place that I’ve worked, and that’s from atop down leadership,” said Matte. “Steve Kuypers—he truly is a leader that goes out there and practices what he preaches with a mantra of ‘Happy team members make happy customers.’ And there is a genuine concern for team members and customers that he shows every single day. You can’t fake that.”