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CS Alumnus Helps Deal Winning Hand to Customers with their Tech Company UrComped

Craig Shacklett MS’13 and Cale Sherry BS’10 help make their customers feel like winners even when they lose.

The former students co-founded UrComped, a tech company that acts as an independent casino broker, helping its players maximize their comps at casinos and cruise lines worldwide whether they win or lose. In the gambling world, comps include free hotel rooms, dining credits and entertainment choices that casinos give customers to reward them for their business.

Shacklett, a Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate, and Sherry, an Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science graduate, target players who spend enough money at their regular casinos to receive comp offers for travel to other casinos around the world. They hope their company becomes the Expedia of casino travel.

“UrComped targets the casual gambler who falls through the cracks and may not know they can get a free room in Vegas based on what they play at the slot machines at WinStar (in Oklahoma),” Sherry said.

The company independently qualifies customers and arranges comps upfront with UrComped partner casinos based on players’ projected casino value. Before the trip, UrComped tells players how much the casino expects them to play based on the comps they are receiving.

The idea was born after Shacklett noticed a “knowledge gap” in the casino market, its promotions and how venues drive revenue. As a former executive casino host on a cruise ship, he realized that many players who were not receiving freebies were spending near or as much as those who were.

“One of my big responsibilities on Norwegian Cruise Line was taking care of VIP guests, and these players were getting free cruises based on how much they gambled,” Shacklett said. “But there would be people on every cruise who would gamble just as much as the VIPs, but were paying full price because Norwegian didn’t know how much they gambled prior to the cruise.”

“It was so obvious that the market didn’t match up,” he said.

UrComped, which is based Farmers Branch, Texas, earns commissions based on how much its customers play at casinos. Shacklett said an entry-level customer has a gambling budget of $300 to $500 per day, but UrComped also works with high rollers who wager much more than that on single hands of blackjack.

Since the website launched last year, several thousand players have signed up and the company works with about 40 casinos, as well as four cruise lines. In June, UrComped became a part of the RevTech accelerator program, where it received $40,000 in funding, co-working space and mentorship. The startup graduated from RevTech this fall and has since raised an additional $200,000 from angel investors.

Source | UT Dallas Alumni Link

About the UT Dallas Computer Science Department

The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members, as of Fall 2015. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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