Introducing Jack Casinos

Jack Entertainment RattiSteve’s breakdown: Rock Gaming is rebranding 4 casinos under the new Jack name. It looks cool but they are still fishing for what “Jack” is. That’s your cue.

3 of the properties are named “HorseShoe”. The 4th is Detroit’s own Greektown which is what the story below is about.

DETROIT, MI: Greektown Casino is getting a new name — and it’s “Jack.”

Rock Gaming LLC executives announced Tuesday afternoon that its gaming operations in Detroit and Ohio will be rebranded under the new Jack Entertainment LLC umbrella.

Greektown Casino-Hotel will be renamed Jack Detroit Casino-Hotel Greektown by the beginning of the fourth quarter, the last of a multipart rebranding effort for the new company.

The change to Jack Entertainment is effective immediately.

During a conference call with reporters, Matt Cullen, CEO of Jack Entertainment, which is part of Dan Gilbert’s Detroit-based Rock Ventures LLC, said Jack Entertainment will “continue expanding our integration with the Greektown community.”

The company said its name represents “an attitude and a way of thinking; like that rare friend who encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone, forget your fears, have fun and live in the moment, for the moment.”

Mark Dunkerson, president and COO of Jack Gaming, said a capital expenditure budget for this year has not yet been set for Greektown but about $70 million has been spent in the last year, including on things like slot machines, the HVAC system, carpet, ceilings, lighting and the high-limit room.

“Going forward, our commitment remains the same, and that’s to continue to reinvest in that property and technology and slot product, which you’ll see through 2016 and 2017.”

One local marketing industry insider had a largely positive reaction to the casino name change.

“What it suggests to me is they’re trying to communicate that it’s a fun, lively, informal environment,” said David DeMuth, co-CEO and president of Southfield-based advertising agency Doner Partners LLC.

Calling the casino “Jack” may be a way to distinguish the casino from crosstown rivals MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity Casino Hotel.

“They’re trying to differentiate from other guys in town,” DeMuth said.

The rebranding effort also appears to be an effort to appeal to a younger demographic — all three Detroit casinos have the reputation of attracting an older, blue collar crowd.

“This is an attempt to connect with Millennials,” DeMuth said.

Traditionally, it’s easier to brand a property rather than rename it, especially if the property is ingrained in the public consciousness. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, DeMuth said.

And with a younger crowd just dipping its toe into the casino lifestyle, the Greektown name isn’t necessarily iconic. A lot of branding and dollars can make a new name stick.

“They’ll put a lot of marketing weight behind it,” DeMuth said. “People will begin to understand the distinction they’re making.”

Another marketing veteran praised the move.

“Seems like a smart move,” said Toby Barlow, global chief creative office for ad agency Team Detroit in Dearborn. “I think Greektown has great history but I don’t think it had a lot of equity from a gambling perspective, so the move won’t hurt them. Plus now the neighborhood of Greektown might be able re-establish itself as something other than the casino, which might be a healthy thing.”

Barlow, in chatting with Crain’s over social media, also quipped on the usage of “Jack” and the name’s connotations.

“You can see all the associations that make Jack attractive: Jack Daniels, Jack Nicholson, Jack Kerouac, Jack Nicklaus, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson the boxer, Jack Johnson the singer, and Jack Black. And if Jack White headlines the rechristening party, I’m a happy man,” he said

Rock Gaming purchased Greektown Casino-Hotel in 2013.

Gilbert, also founder and chairman of Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Ventures, is majority owner of Greektown.

Greektown employs over 1,900 people. It has a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor, about 3,000 slot machines and 67 table games.

It opened in November 2000; the gaming floor was expanded and 400-room hotel opened seven years ago.

Other gaming properties in the Jack Entertainment portfolio are expected to transition on the following timeline:

  • The Jack ThistleDown Racino on March 9.
  • The Jack Cleveland Casino in early May.
  • The Jack Cincinnati Casino in early June.

The Jack Entertainment portfolio includes 400,000 square feet of gaming space, 600 hotel rooms and 35 bars and restaurants. It has over $1 billion in revenue.

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