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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: 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 the nation).

All this information, just a few keyboard strokes away.

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 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. 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. 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. 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 questions:

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 page?

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 requested.

Typical users of your site?

We will be doing market analysis by the end of the year.

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.

Your competition?

Primarily and 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 up?

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!

Anything else?

Avoid using spam to market your product.




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