CASINO COMPS ARE INCENTIVES AND REBATES
Update October 25, 2016 Casino comps, which is shorthand for casino complimentaries, are the free
things that players get from casinos including free or discounted hotel rooms, free or discounted meals include buffets, show
tickets, gifts, prizes and even free chips or vouchers to make bets. The same way food companies and grocery stores give you
discounts and coupons to get you to shop, casinos give out comps to get you to play. Some comps are given in advance such
as free hotel rooms or free show tickets as an incentive to get you to visit the casino. Some comps are given after you play
as rebates on your play and these comps might take the form of cash-back or additional free play or additional free nights
in the hotel.
There are other casino gifts such as annual gift giveaways such as the Total Rewards
Great Gift Wrap Up for the Caesars Casinos and the holiday gift program that the MGM MLife program has. These are also discussed
The important thing for you to remember is that the casino gives out comps as an incentive
for you to play and keep playing and they are not gifts. The value of the comps you get are carefully figured so that the
casino hopes to get more profits from you.
Do only losers get comped? No. Winners can also get
comped and the main reason why winners get comped is that the casinos hope the comps will bring the winners back to the casino
so the casino has another chance to win their money.
Do losers get better comps than winners?
Not necessarily. Losers might get more than winners but there is no rule.
Can comps be negotiated?
Yes. You can negotiate for room rates and free rooms and free play before you arrive or you could negotiate during your stay.
It's not really a negotiation, however. What you do is ask a host or player represenative for comps. If a host offers you
an extra night in the casino at "casino rate" which is a discounted price, you could say "gee I'd really like
to get an extra night for free, can you help?" Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. If a host calls you with an
offer to come to the casino for a vacation you can ask for certain comps such as show tickets or some free play. It never
hurts to ask, but you don't want to ask for too much or you could make yourself unattractive to the host.
Comp levels will vary from casino to casino. If you get free rooms in Reno or Laughlin, it doesn't mean you will
get free rooms in the Bahamas or Las Vegas. If you get free buffets in San Diego or Palm Springs, it doesn't mean you will
get free buffets in Vegas.
ANNUAL HOLIDAY GIFT EVENTS AT CASINOS
Several casino companies and individual (independent) casinos offer their players annual holiday gift events. Total
Rewards which is the players' club for Caesars has its annual Great Gift Wrap Up. MLife which is the players' club for the
MGM casinos has its Holiday Gift Shoppe. Pechanga, the Native American casino in Temecula, California has also had annual
gifting events for its players. Usually these events are additional gifts given during the holiday shopping season as rewards
for play during the year.
If you find you have points or credits for these events take advantage
of them when it makes sense to. If a casino is having an event the first week of December and you already plan to be near
the casino during that time do stop by and pick up your gifts. But before you make a special trip weigh the cost and benefits.
For example, will it cost you $200 of travel to pick up $100 of merchandise?
Some of these casino
gift programs give you the opportunity to convert "gift points" into free play instead of picking up an actual gift
item or merchandise. Should you opt for the free play? The answer depends on your own personal needs and wishes. If you are
not attracted to any of the gift items being offered and there is a free play option, then it may make sense to convert your
points into the free play instead of into a blender that you won't use except for maybe as a "re-gifting" item.
In some cases you might find you have some points remaining after you have chosen the merchandise you want and in
that case using the remaining points for free play makes sense. There might also be gift cards to various retailers available
and sometimes these gift cards are available in denominations as low as $10 and using "leftover points" for these
gift cards can also be worthwhile.
If you find yourself "short" by some points for an
item you want, you might ask if there is a casino host or manager who could round-up or give you the extra points you need.
A year ago I found myself short by a few dozen points for an item and the few dozen points I needed represented only a tiny
percentage of my play during the year so a casino host quickly rounded-up my points so I could complete the purchase. At the
Caesars Great Gift Wrap Up there is an office for "problems" and one of the problems that handle there is when a
player finds they are short some points.
If you find yourself short by some number of points and
the represenatives at the event tell you to play some more to earn them, ask someone else. Nothing is more frustrating that
to be five points short for a 35,000 point item that's worth $100 and to be told to gamble $25 to earn those five points.
And that's something you should always keep in mind: it's probably not worth to play more just to reach the next "gift
level" or point level.
DO I NEED TO PLAY 4 HOURS A DAY?
You've probably heard that some casinos want you to play for 4 hours per day in order to be comped. You might wonder
if you need to play 4 hours a day?
The 4 hours a day requirement was very popular at many Las
Vegas casinos for many years. The idea was that four hours of play showed that a player was serious about playing and was
giving the casino a fair shot at his money. And in turn, the casino would thank the player with some pre-arranged offer of
free hotel rooms and free meals and other complimentaries. Some casinos might still have a 4-hour a day requirement. Other
casinos that have players clubs might look at the value of the bets you made and the required value might be met in less time
if you played higher denominations, or the required value might be met in more than 4 hours if you play lower denominations.
You should know in advance what play is required for the level of comps you are seeking. If you are not playing for
comps (which is always the wisest strategy) it is still good to know in advance what your play might bring you.
What if you lose a lot but don't meet a four hour requirement? That's a good question because I was at a Vegas casino
some years ago and a player ran into a problem because he lost his entire bankroll for a weekend in less than one four-hour
session on the first day. Here's what happened:
The player had a long history at this casino and
he was rated as a good player. His offer was for RFB which means full room, food and beverages would be comped or supplied
for free. He was required to play 4 hours per day, which is what he usually played. His usual weekend bankroll was $25,000
which was a hefty bankroll some fifteen years ago when this incident unhappened. Unfortunately for this player he ran into
a lot of bad luck playing craps on his first day of a four-day trip to the casino and lost all $25,000 in less than four hours
of play on the first day. He spent the rest of his trip enjoying what Vegas had to offer including the free show tickets,
his free room, and the free meals in his original offer. Then came check-out day, and the player came to the craps table visibly
upset and announced he was looking for his host. He was told that because he did not play 4 hours per day, every day, he was
being charged for all of the expenses of his trip and nothing was being comped even though he lost his bankroll of $25-thousand.
I am glad to say that after he spoke to his host it was all resolved -- he got all of his comps. I mention this to let you
know that these things can happen.
MODERN PLAYER'S CLUBS HAVE DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS
Today, many casino player clubs track your play using computers, and it doesn't matter if you play for four hours
or for four-hours per day every day of your visit. The new computer programs are set up to reward or comp you based on whatever
level of play you have. Casinos rarely offer RFB up front the way they did in the old days of ten or fifteen years ago. Today,
casinos will tell you that you will get a certain level of comps when you arrive and you can "earn" additional comps
based on your level of play during your visit. Of course you are not earning anything. Earn is the word that the casinos are
really using to describe a loss-rebate or money back on what you are expected to lose during your casino play. Because everything
in the computer is determined by your recorded play it is important that you always play with your player's card. And when
you play at table games, be sure you always ask for your rating when you leave the table to be sure you were accurately rated
for the time you spent playing and your average bet, and how much you won or lost.
A CASINO CREDIT LINE HELP YOU GET COMPS?
Another common question is will you get better
comps if you have a credit line with the casino? The answer is maybe. Some casinos might indeed give you better comps for
hotel rooms and meals and show tickets if you have a large credit line because a large credit line signals you might be betting
a lot. But some casinos will disregard the size of your credit line and care about only one thing: how much did you bet?
I have a close friend who thought that having a large credit line would entitle him to a free Vegas weekend at a
pricey casino resort in Vegas. He showed up on Friday night and checked into his suite, and then went to the casino cage and
took out $10,000 in chips against his credit line. He ten went to a blackjack table and made a single $100 bet -- which he
lost. He made no other bets that weekend but enjoyed dinners and shows. At the end of his stay he called his host and asked
to be comped. The host refused to comp anything saying "you didn't play?" My friend protested and said "I took
out a $10,000 marker on my credit line." And the host responded, "but you didn't play."
comps are comps that casino hosts and managers can make on their own separate from the comps that come from marketing departments
and player's club programs. For example, a host might send up a fruit basket to your room, or give you show tickets. A manager
in the table games department might give you a comp for a free buffet or a meal in the coffee shop. Unfortunately the "power
of the pen" as discretionary comps were called has been replaced with computerized comp programs. You might still receive
discretionary comps but the days of pit bosses handing out buffet passes to players and for hosts handing out show tickets
have pretty much ended. If you do receive a discretionary comp be sure you say thank you because you got something special.
MILKING THE SYSTEM
players, who also consider themselves "advantage players," think they can milk the casino comp system for every
nickle possible and for more comps than they are actually entitled to. Yes, you can milk the system for a limited amount of
time but then the system is going to catch up with the amount of comps you received and your actual play and what you should
have received. That's when a player who thinks he took advantage of the casino might find he has been cut off from comps or
now gets a reduced level of comps.
My point here is simple: you can't outsmart the casinos or
the hosts or the computers. You can't trick them for too long either. Yes, you can get away with some extra comps once or
twice. But the system will catch up with you.
Some players find that they get simulataneous hotel
and free play offers from two or more casinos on the same weekend and they actually check into to multiple hotels to cash-in
on the offers at each property. Yes, you can double-dip or triple-dip but you can't do it forever. Comps are all based on
an expected level of play and when you double-dip you are likely to disappoint the computer expectations at one of the two
casinos or maybe at more than one casino. That disappoitment can lead to a reduction of offers in the future.
There is nothing illegal about checking into two different casinos and claiming offers at two different casinos simultaneously.
There is also nothing unethical about it as a casino patron. But the reality is unless you have the bankroll to justify enough
play at both casinos during that stay, there is a possibility the casino that gets less action might reduce future offers.
If you utilize hotel rooms and offers at two casinos during the same weekend it's possible both of the casinos will reduce
OVER-COMPED VERSUS UNDER-PLAYED
Some casino players who consider themselves to be "advantage players" say they can reach a level where
they have been comped or received gifts over and above their level of play. Frankly, I don't think you can be over-comped
unless you are a profitable player because I think all casino comps return only a fraction of what players are expected to
lose when they play. If you happen to have a winning year at the casino and you have recieved various comps and gifts then
you have been over-comped. But if you lost at the casino during the year, then it's my opinion that whatever comps you received
didn't make up for the real money that came out of your checkbook.
Now some will argue with me
and say that their frequent use of free hotel rooms, and frequent enjoyment of free meals in the player's lounge, can offset
what they lost in real money while gambling. If they really feel that way and really feel that the free meals and the free
room nights were worth what they lost then I say good for them.
I've also heard stories where
players have asked for certain comps from a casino host who has told them that they were "over-comped" already and
no additional comps or offers were available. Frankly, I think being told that you are "over-comped" is a euphemism
for the word "no" and really what the casino host is saying is that you are "under-played" and you're
not worth any additonal comps that you might be asking for.
Should you be angry with a casino
host who says you are "over-comped" or is honest enough to tell you that you are "under-played"? No. Casino
hosts have a job to do and follow the policies of the casino. It's better to undertsand the comp system and work within the
system than to alienate yourself.