California Casino Creates New Craps Game

A hybrid of slots and table games, Turn & Burn Craps recently debuted at River Rock Casino in Geyserville, California, owned by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. Chief Executive Officer David Fendrick, who invented the game, said it's not enough to help the casino overcome its financial problems.

River Rock Casino in Geyserville, California, owned by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, recently debuted Turn & Burn Craps, a new electronic table game that’s a hybrid of slots and table games. It does not involve tossing actual dice, which is illegal in California casinos, but it’s easy to learn, simple to play and “easy to win on,” said the game’s creator, River Rock Chief Executive Officer David Fendrick. “There’s not a long learning curve” to play this simplified version of the classic table game of craps, he added.

In Turn & Burn Craps, up to play eight players place their bets on a felt layout with a minimum $5 bet. A computer-activated random number generator determines the outcome of the game. A pair of virtual dice are “rolled” and come to rest with the winning combination on the digital monitor. Unlike traditional craps, where players can roll multiple times until they “crap out,” Turn & Burn turns on only one virtual roll per bet.

Fendrick said Turn & Burn Craps has a “house advantage” of slightly more than 5 percent, so the house keeps $5 for every $100 wagered.

Turn & Burn Craps was in development for more than one year. It has been certified by Gaming Laboratories International, vetted by attorneys, approved by the Dry Creek gaming commission and also has a patent pending.

Still, although the new game could help the 13-year old casino compete, and also raise money from other casinos that may want to lease it, it’s unlikely to significantly help River Rock’s revenue, which dropped after the larger Graton Resort and Casino opened in November 2013. Last year Graton took about 50 percent of River Rock’s revenues and now the cannibalization is holding steady at “probably mid-40s,” Fendrick said.

The last full year River Rock’s revenue was publicly reported was in 2010 with $124 million.

Fendrick said Turn & Burn Craps “is a very small offering which will be moderately successful in terms of profitability. It’s not a panacea in terms of the financial issues that we have.” Those include defaulting on bond obligations and negotiating with Sonoma County over a missed payment.

River Rock at one point employed about 600 people, but now has 388, Fendrick said. In addition, it once offered 1,300 slots and 22 table games, and now has 1,150 slots and 18 tables. The casino still attracts about 25 charter busses a day although it’s farther away than Graton from cities in Sonoma County and the Bay Area.

Fendrick emphasized slot personnel and food service have not been cut back. “We want to make sure the customer experience is not negatively impacted,” he said.