Northern Nevada Business Weekly
Family's casino-comparison site soars
Mike Sion, Correspondent
You're planing a vacation and figure to do some
gambling. You want to find a place to play, and factor the costs of lodging
and entertainment into your travel budget.
You log onto an Internet search engine and pull
up an address: StatesCasinos.com. Click on it, and a neatly boxed home page
appears touting itself with the tagline: "The Webs Best Hotel Casino Comparisons."
Two dice repeatedly tumble from the left-hand corner, landing on snake eyes.
Go to the adjacent finder's box and scroll down and click on any state in
the union. Within seconds, a grid will appear showing key information for
gambling resorts with lodging in the state or -- if it isn't in one of the
29 states that has casino gambling, in an adjacent state.
The grid of this free directory lists names, cities,
number of rooms, restaurants, entertainment, any specials, and the weather
at each resort. Click on these various categories to get even more information.
For example, is your itinerary taking you near
Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the banks of the Missouri River? You can access
facts about the Ameristar Hotel casino, with its 160 rooms, 10 restaurants,
and 3,500-seat Star Arena where - if you plan to be in Council Bluffs on
Sept. 8 - you can catch that heartthrob balladeer Michael Bolton, Be prepared,
for summer thunderstorms are possible, although the temperature still may
be balmy. You'll also be able to click on the link to the Ameristar's home
page where you can get the telephone number and other key details (such as
that the Ameristar is the only AAA Four-Diamond riverboat casino hotel in
All this information, just a few keyboard strokes
Great idea? Deborah and David Schlecht are betting
that it is. Deborah Schlecht is the chief financial officer for Dades Innovations
which owns and operates StatesCasinos.com. Dades is a four person family
operation including Schlecht, her daughters Jennifer and Nicole who are
part time data programmers and Schlecht's husband David President. He also
serves as the technical expert and with his wife, handles sales and marketing.
StatesCasinos.com has been up and running since
April. An earlier incarnation was nv_casinos.html developed in 1998 by the
Schlecht's DGS Consulting, Inc. DGS provides products, software, and Website
consulting for businesses around the world.
DGSs site was a single page with information manually
inserted into a database. Heavy traffic, Deborah Schlecht says, precipitated
the spin off to Dades Innovations which maintain more than 400 Web pages
on the site. StatesCasinos.com averaged 6.000-plus daily hits in July and
traffic is doubling each month, David Schlecht says.
Other online casino directories are geared to
cyberspace gambling sites (have your credit card ready if you want to wager),
or only list brief information about land-based casinos. StatesCasinos.com
has a special niche: It's a tourist's guide to U.S. casino properties that
include lodging. And there are no flashing, blinking or popup windows offering
online casino promotions.
David and Deborah Schlecht answered the following
What was the genesis of this business idea?
Nv_casinos.html started as a directory of hotel
casinos as a service to DGS Consulting, Inc. Web visitors. The demand for
this page far exceeded expectations. We investigated other sites on the Internet
and found that none offered side by side comparison. The same investigation
brought to light the stale condition of data presented by other sites.
How many resorts on average are listed?
There are currently over 200 hotel casinos in
29 states. With the spread of legalized gambling across America, this number
is growing rapidly and maintaining an up to date database is a high priority.
Our visitors have expressed interest in information on casinos outside the
USA so we will consider expanding the database in the near future.
What else is listed on your site?
Information on casinos hotel casinos riverboats
and cruises. Since this site is primarily geared toward travel, establishments
without accommodations generally are not listed. Only if requested by our
visitors, we will occasionally add such links.
How often is the site updated?
We update the site daily, five days a week and
sometimes on weekends. We check casino specials and entertainment monthly,
but will update a property's information whenever we receive faxes and e-mails
with current specials and information from the establishments.
How do you verify information, and how often?
Our information is verified by information on
a casino's Website twice twice a month. Faxes and e-mail with new information
can be received and updated daily. Occasionally, verification requires a
call to the hotel-casino's marketing department.
What Web technology was used to design the
This site uses lowest-common-denominator technology.
In other words, we don't require our visitors to have special plug-is, add-ons
or interpreters. We have plans of producing a wide-bandwidth alternative
site in the near future, which will require Flash.
Overhead and main expenses?
Currently, our main expenses are our two part-time
junior programmers (our daughters) Compensation for the executives is "sweat
equity" at this point.
Sources of Income?
Our revenue model is based on advertising. The
site is built with numerous different advertising options.We expect to be
in the black by the end of the year. We have zero income at the moment. We
are not charging our current page sponsors but eventually will. Dades Innovations
also is developing a Windows based employee time clock and a snoop detector
to foil hackers.
What are your various ad rates?
Advertising space on our site varies between $1,200
for a banner ad to $375 for a logo on a comparison listing. These are monthly
rates. We do not have seasonal rates. We also offer per-click pricing, as
Typical users of your site?
We will be doing market analysis by the end of
How do you advertise?
We are very proud of our rankings on all the major
search engines. For most phrases containing "hotel casinos," we rank on the
first page and in many cases, No. 1. We rank No. 1 on all the major search
engines using the phrases such as "compare hotel casinos." We have numerous
travel agencies linked to our site, as well as major resorts. We have banner
space on some search engines. We also have links from other Internet sites
relating to the gaming and travel industries.
Primarily CasinoCity.com and BigCasinoList.com.
Judging from responses on our feedback page, we are preferred. Our site is
easier to read, has nice aesthetics and always has current information.
When, if ever, will you include popup windows
with promotions and prize drawings?
We are currently working with various hotel-casinos
on adding promotional content to our site. We hope to never join the crowd
by adding those annoying popup windows.
Best advice you can give a small business starting
Always believe in your product. Never give up.
Would you, personally enjoy using the product? Is it the best it can be?
Be proud to have your name on it. Always be the best, period!
Avoid using spam to market your product.