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Sandia not just sitting back, counting cash

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia Resort & Casino continues to declare war on itself. It simply refuses to rest on its position as the No. 1-grossing casino in the state. It keeps challenging itself to get better and, if possible, bigger.

Sandia’s marketing action of “to get, you’ve got to give,” is its mantra. For most of us watching its monstrous monthly giveaways of cash, free play and slick sports cars, it reminds us of the cliché, “If you got it, flaunt it.” Or, in Sandia’s case: “We got it and we give it away.”

If you look at the numbers, it makes sense: Each quarter Sandia almost matches the yearly total incomes of the second- and third-place finishers among the state’s casinos.

So, what makes Sandia so successful? There are five reasons: Location is the first three, followed by consistent management and excellent service and product. The casino’s top managers have all been in place for a long time. The hotel is just over 10 years in age and still sparkles in cleanliness and character.

Yet, those who call the shots are out to add luster. All 228 rooms are going through a thorough makeover, adding glamour and glitz wall to wall, floor to ceiling.

And get this: The cocktail lounge, Thur Pa, the big one on the casino floor, is getting a new television set. It is the entire east wall, 25 feet by 25 feet, the mother of all flat-screen television receivers. And it can be simply programmed to carry one football game or all of the Sunday games, dividing the screen to satisfy all the football junkies in the room. It should be ready this weekend.

What is ready is September and October’s “$Million Dollar Mania Giveaway.” Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 9:30 p.m., every half hour, there are three hot-seat calls. Each winner collects $250 in free slot play.

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9:30 p.m., every 30 minutes three hot-seat calls are made and each winner picks up $200 in cash. Every Friday between 7 and 8 p.m. through Oct. 26, the casino will give away either a new Camaro or Mustang, again via a hot-seat call. To get in on all this revelry, simply show up and play any one of Sandia’s 2,000-plus slots.

CASINO HOLLYWOOD: San Felipe’s Casino Hollywood leans toward fun promotions, attracting patrons who enjoy participating in a active promotion as opposed to passive participation.

For September, Hollywood reprises its successful 2011 “$1,000,000 Pro Football Challenge.” Patrons attempt to pick the most winners of each week’s Sunday and Monday night NFL games. It is not straight-up handicapping; contestants must pick the winning teams against the point spread.

Players picking the most winners each week collect $500 for first; $200 for second, $150 for third and fourth; fifth- and sixth-place finishers each earn $100, and seventh through 10th place each pick up $75. It comes to $1,500 each week in cash awards.

Official rules on the contest along with instructions on how to get your hands on the $1 million prize are at Hollywood’s Welcome Center.

BUFFALO THUNDER: Buffalo Thunder’s September foray into patron participation is ultimate. It has combined drawings with a game show concept. Each Friday evening at 8 in September previously selected players, who’ve entered the game arena by their choice of selecting a cash opportunity or the invitation to the game show to win more and bigger prizes, or walk away empty handed.

It’s high drama, laced with fun and lots of anxiety; there are more winners than losers. Winners can easily take home $6,000 each Friday this month. Pick up official rules at The Thunder’s Player’s Club.

This weekend Buffalo Thunder celebrates its fourth birthday and will celebrate by giving away, via drawings, $100 in free slot play Saturday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 2.

Drawings will go from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Players get their names in the drawing drum for every 10 points earned playing slots. A note on points: This weekend slot activists pick up four-timespoints from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. What’s nice here is if the player is not present at the time of the drawings, he or she still picks up $50 in free slot play.

On Sunday at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. birthday cupcakes will be served while strolling mariachis entertain patrons at play. And as darkness comes along, Buffalo Thunder will stage an impressive fireworks display.