Casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. is finding a way to give its highest rollers trips to the Las Vegas Strip each year, even though it has no casinos there.
Pinnacle CEO Anthony Sanfilippo told The Associated Press that gamblers who rack up enough points in his company's loyalty program will be eligible for three-night trips to the Wynn and Encore casinos. The trips will be jointly sponsored by Wynn Resorts Ltd.
"One of the things that our guests had continued to ask us for is, 'When are you going to have a presence in Las Vegas?'" Sanfilippo said.
A marketing executive at Wynn Resorts says the giveaways will be worthwhile for that much larger company if the players gamble as much at Wynn as they have at Pinnacle casinos.
The companies didn't disclose the deal's terms.
Pinnacle operates a total of seven casinos in Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana and Nevada _ but none in Sin City, where it is based. It also operates a racetrack in Ohio and is developing a $357 million casino in Baton Rouge, La., that is scheduled to open in the first quarter next year.
Sanfilippo said the company started thinking about aligning with a Las Vegas casino operator last summer, and it began serious talks with Wynn Resorts in October.
"We very much admire the way that (CEO) Steve Wynn _ and Wynn Resorts _ does business," he said. "We think they don't compromise."
Steve Wynn, the billionaire chief executive of Wynn Resorts, has complained previously about the effect of filling casinos with people who pay lower room rates, saying it's not worth discounting the rooms for customers who can't afford to eat in pricey restaurants, see shows or gamble.
Michael Weaver, Wynn Resorts' senior vice president of marketing strategy, says the customers Pinnacle plans to send have proven to be willing spenders. He said his company hopes these customers later decide to only stay at Wynn or Encore when they come to Las Vegas.
"If those customers game at Wynn at the same levels that they game or near the same levels that they game at when they're visiting their Pinnacle casino, it will be a very appealing program for us," Weaver said.
Ginny Shanks, chief marketing officer of Pinnacle Entertainment, said the Wynn trips would be offered to about 20,000 gamblers at its highest three tiers after its "mychoice" loyalty program re-launches next month. Pinnacle has about 1 million customers in its database, she said. Shanks declined to say how much customers must gamble to reach the program's top tiers.
Sanfilippo said Pinnacle isn't interested in developing a casino in Las Vegas right now because there are too many already. That makes having Wynn as a host property for Pinnacles guests appealing, he said.
"If conditions get such that it makes sense for us to own a property, then we would look at it," Sanfilippo said. "But today, I don't think those conditions exist."