Also referred to as a whale, a high roller in the casino industry is a gambler who bets large amounts of money. From free private jet transfers to limousines to the casinos’ best suites, these big spenders receive lavish perks to entice them onto the gambling floors. In spite of this, high rollers provide only a small percentage of casino income: it is actually gamblers from the lower and middle classes that provide much of the gambling money.
There is actually no single image of the typical high roller. They may be male or female, well dressed or shabby, quiet or talkative. The only thing that sets high rollers apart from the rest of gamblers on the floor is their air of confidence. Their bets are usually substantial, and for these big spenders the thrill of winning is far more important than the amount. It’s much harder for a high roller when he or she is a blackjack or poker loser, even if they lose an inconsequential amount.
High rollers are unlikely to play with the average poker loser: they play at the table with high limits, which can roughly lock out everyone else. To enter the high rollers’ room, you must have a vast bankroll and always be involved in big betting. You must also be willing to gamble with as much money as you can on each game. The casino will eventually send you an invitation, once these conditions are being consistently met.
There have been special accommodations for VIPs and members of the High Rollers Club since the earliest days of hotel casinos. One of the most popular is a 5000 square foot suite reserved by Elvis Presley on the 30th floor of what is now the Las Vegas Hilton during his 800-plus run of shows. This floor now houses the three largest suites in Las Vegas, going for about $17,500 per night each. High rollers often get to stay for free.
The Venetian provides a special gambling lounge for high rollers. Guests are served wine worth as much as $25,000 a bottle. It’s smart business for a casino to spend thousands to make millions. The strategy is to build up loyalty with high rollers, since every gambler loses eventually. Casinos don’t hesitate to extend credit since some gamblers will sacrifice their businesses, even their homes, to keep playing.
Major casinos worldwide maintain a full-time staff just to lure high rollers to their private tables. There are only about 500 true high rollers worldwide, with credit lines of $4 to $5 million dollars. The casinos vie with each other to give these high rollers and their families private jet transportation, luxury accommodations, gourmet cuisine, free show tickets, pricey gifts, fine wines, butlers and chauffeurs – all on the house.