Expat Chronicles a new advertiser, Rockefeller Casino in Bogota’s Zona Rosa, which is run by American Dan Kaiser, who’s been in Bogota since 2006. He recently found my site and reached out.
More than being happy to have a new advertiser, I was thrilled to have one who likes my content. I’ve had several advertisers now – hostels, rehab centers, dating sites, hotels, health insurance – but Dan is the first one who believes in this site. He doesn’t see it as a number of pageviews, or unique visitors in Bogota, but as great content that he wants his brand to sponsor. That’s a higher compliment than the dollars he gives me.
While thinking about how to help his business, I had an idea. How about we throw a Super Bowl party at his casino? I can bring some people through – provided they drink free – and in exchange I’ll write an article about the party, giving extra publicity to Rockefeller casino. Dan agreed.
The party was great and we had a blast. DC didn’t knock anybody out, Mark didn’t threaten to shit blood in any of the girls’ faces, Joey didn’t fish-hook his girl, Daniel didn’t try to get us to a vallenato bar, Paul didn’t OD, and I didn’t do anything dumb, so there isn’t much to tell from the party. The Giants won. Eli Manning achieved for the second time what his brother Peyton hasn’t – beat Tom Brady’s Patriots in a Super Bowl.
Because there wasn’t much of a party story, I decided to write about Rockefeller. I asked Dan what’s different about his casino. His reply:
Client Attention. I like to think we have excellent client attention. A waitress is never too far away. We offer free drinks. Corona is always 2000 pesos. Free food for bigger players.
Atmosphere. We have a friendly atmosphere. Many Bogota casinos have very aggressive, ugly atmospheres.
Blackjack. Our rules are player-friendly. Including the option to double-down on any number of cards – always.
Dan is clearly not in the content business. He’s a nice guy, not trying to court scandal. But not me, not here. I had to pry him for more. I need something interesting enough to write about.
But more important, I knew there was more. Something more compelling, specifically about his Colombian competitors. His original banner ad included the words, “Owned by Americans.” If you’ve been in Latin America for a while – especially Colombia – this means something. Of all the things to put in a 468×60 pixel ad, why did he choose to include that?
I know why. All expats know why. It’s why, talking to Joey about a English institute in Bogota run by a gringo, he said it’s the best one to work for. Why? “Because he’s not Colombian.” It’s something in Latin business culture – most extreme in Colombia – that I’d been contemplating how to describe. Ever since getting to know paisa culture, and specifically my paisa buddy Gustavo, I’ve noticed stinginess and haggling and miserable behavior more and more.
Without getting away from the scope of this article, suffice it to say Colombians are cheap. Miserly. I wanted Dan to give me something along those lines in relation to casinos. So I told him this is great, but I need more. I prodded him: I know you have strong opinions about your Colombian competitors. Why did you put “Owned by Americans” in the ad? Because they’re stingy, miserable bastards and everybody who lives here knows it. But tell me HOW. I need details. Here’s an example, and I don’t even go to casinos:
One day I was passing through Zona Rosa with some buddies on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. We were already drinking. One of these fellas handing out flyers for 20,000 pesos a day gives us a coupon for a free beer at [Zona Rosa casino unworthy of mention]. We thought, why not? And headed a few blocks out of our way to the casino. We presented our free beer coupons and were told to wait. 5 minutes or so passed and some security dickhead told us the free beer doesn’t start until 5 pm. But we can have the 1500 pesos in slot machine credits. They weren’t even the simple slots where you pull the crank and images line up. There were lots of buttons and different things to read and figure out. I just slapped at them until my credit ran down a little. I left the machine before spending all my money. We were all a little pissed at the waste of time.
My big question: WHY THE FUCK DO YOU SEND THE FLYER GUY OUT WITH FREE BEER COUPONS BEFORE THE FREE BEER TIME? Are you trying to piss people off? Because that’s what you achieved you goddamn monkeys.
That email was enough for Dan to open up. Some examples from his reply:
In [the same Zona Rosa casino not worth mentioning] you can lose $1,000,000 in Blackjack and have to ask the dealer for a complimentary beer. They don’t have the power to authorize it, but will call a supervisor who may or may not have to call someone upstairs to authorize a free beer. If you order directly from the waitress, you will be charged. And that is if you can find a waitress.
At Rockefeller if you sit down at Blackjack, you are getting free drinks. Period.
Another example, we have a client who plays $10,000,000 – $15,000,000 a month. He used to play at another casino. He was once given a $300,000 bonus there. With us, he gets $1,000,000 – $3,000,000 every month.
We recently had a great client who had to go do Washington DC for business. He let us know he was hoping to go to the U2 concert in Baltimore. We gave him a front row seat.
With poker, we use internationally recognized rules. The competition appears to invent them on the fly from God knows where. This not only causes problems for Colombians, but confuses the hell out of foreigners.
This is a sharp gringo’s casino business in Colombia, Rockefeller Casino. It’s posh, it’s upscale, it’s fair, and it’s generous. Dan’s offering a special bonus for Expat Chronicles readers. Go to Rockefeller in the heart of Zona Rosa and mention Expat Chronicles to claim it.
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