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Casino Play For Casino Comps

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How much do you have to play in a casino into order to gets free things such as meals, show tickets and free rooms from the casino? The short answer is "it varies with the casino" and here we'll examine some of the variables.

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 here.

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.

WILL 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."

DISCRETIONARY COMPS

Discretionary 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

Certain 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 future offers.

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.

Here on our new media website "Moneyman" Alan Mendelson who is the original Best Deals TV Show reporter on KCAL9 and consumer advocate, shows you the best deals on TV, and the best buys, bargains and where savvy shoppers go to save, and how to get the most for "your money" with the best of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.  Our Best Buys TV Show has the best TV deals and is the only regularly scheduled weekly best deals TV show in Southern California.  We show you the best buys and best deals on TV and more deals and bargains on www.alanbestbuys.com and www.bestbuystvshow.com and watch for our Las Vegas TV show Vegas Best Buys.  Some of the content can come from paid advertising and from our advertiser paid TV infomercial programs.  The Best Buys TV Show is a paid infomercial program which may also include news and information which is not sponsored or paid for by advertisers.  AlanBestBuys.com has the highest ranking among competitive sites in Southern California according to the independent website ranking companies Alexa.com and Quantcast.com and our Best Buys TV Show is the most watched shopping and consumer information show in Southern California.

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