In the context of casinos, comps are complimentary items and services given out by casinos to encourage players to gamble. The amount and quality of comps that a player is given usually depends on a combination of factors: what game(s) they play, how much they bet, and how long they play.
How Do Casinos Determine Comps
How to Get a Free Room in Las Vegas Method 1 Obtaining and Using Your Player's Card. Sign up for a player's card. Method 2 Increasing Your Chances. Gamble in a specific casino frequently. Method 3 Asking for a Comped Room. Ask to talk to the host.
Most casinos have casino hosts who are responsible for giving out free items and contacting players to bring them back to the casino. Pit bosses can also award comps at table games. Most casinos now urge players to obtain a player's club or similar card, so that their play can be tracked and comps awarded.
The lowest level of comp available at most casinos is free alcohol and other beverages. Many casinos provide free drinks to anyone who is gambling.
The second level of comp that many players earn is free self-parking, lounge access, or free meals. Many casinos have several players lounges and restaurants, and may require more play to earn a comp to higher-end restaurants. Often the player is given a certain amount to spend, but sometimes, particularly with high rollers, the player may be given the right to order as much food as they want and to bring guests.
The next level of comps is usually free hotel rooms, free valet parking, and free access to more exclusive VIP or 'high roller' lounges. Many casinos have attached hotels, but those that do not may have the ability to comp rooms to a hotel nearby. Many casino hotels have higher quality rooms, such as suites, villas, presidential suites, and so on for bigger bettors or VIP guests. Many players who receive hotel rooms receive a package called 'RFB' (for 'room, food, and beverage') or 'RF' (for 'room and food') for smaller bettors, or in jurisdictions where casinos are not allowed to give free alcohol.
Many casinos also offer other comps, especially to high rollers. These may include airfare reimbursement, limo rides, tickets to shows, golf, free concierge services, cash back, money to show up in the casino, loss rebates, private gaming areas, and private jet service.
Casinos also frequently offer players comps by mail or email, or in casino apps. These may be free bet offers, free meals, discounted or free rooms, or entries into tournaments or prize drawings.
Some casinos contract with bus companies to bring players in. Riders often enjoy free slot play, dining coupons, and other benefits, often worth as much as the bus fare itself.
Technically, every player may be offered comps, but most casinos require players to have played for a given period of time and play at a certain level, i.e., the duration of play and amount wagered are directly proportional to the level of expected comps. What games are played are also factors. Casinos award comps based on a player's Average Daily Theoretical loss, also known as ADT, theoretical loss, or 'theo' for short. The theoretical loss is the amount of money a player is expected to lose based on the long run statistical advantage the casino has on the particular game being played.
Theoretical loss algorithms differ somewhat among casinos, but in general, the logic behind the calculation is as follows:
- Theoretical Loss = (Casino Advantage) × (Total Wager)
Players known as 'comp counters', 'comp hustlers', or 'comp wizards' attempt to maximize the amount of comps they receive while minimizing their expected gambling losses. Comp hustlers play games with a low house advantage, such as blackjack or video poker, or games with small bet sizes, such as penny slots. Comp hustlers may use tactics such as placing large bets when a pit boss is checking their bet size to rate them for comps, and then moving to a smaller bet size when the boss is not watching. They may also take frequent breaks from playing, play at full tables to be dealt fewer hands per hour, and play more slowly. Comp hustling is a type of advantage gambling if the player is able to hustle more in comps than their average cost of gambling. And the author of 'How to Get a Dollar in Casino Comps for Every Dime You Lose Gambling', in their summary of key takeaways from Max Rubin's book, Comp City, observes: 'The next step up from being a comp wizard is to become a comp counter. These players have specific knowledge and skills that enable them to combine a low house edge with comps in order to profit.' Another step up are practitioners of 'ACES (Advanced Comp Earning System). People practicing this kind of system earn a dollar's worth of comps for every dime they lose gambling.'
Online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks offer a variety of bonuses that are similar to brick and mortar casino comps. Also similarly, comp hustlers and advantage players can use these bonuses to turn a profit via bonus hunting, or can convert these comps to a guaranteed profit using the technique of matched betting.
Many online casino operators are aware of the potential for losing money while giving out bonuses. As such, there is often a minimum wagering requirement for cashing out.
Some casinos will limit the payout in case of a win. Also, they may restrict players from playing certain games, often those games with a low house advantage. And, they may require players to bet the bonus amount multiple times before being able to cash out. For example, a casino may require a player to bet the bonus amount 50 times before being able to cash out. So, for a $100 bonus, a player would have to bet $5,000 before being able to cash out. Therefore, it is advantageous for players to check the wagering requirements of a bonus. All bonuses have a turnover requirement. This means that placing a certain number of wagers, such as turnover 5x, means wagering 5 times the bonus. Most online casinos distinguish two types of bonuses: a no deposit bonus and a deposit bonus. First one does not require from a user to make a deposit at a casino in order to start playing. A deposit bonus requires from a user to make a deposit of certain amount of funds to start playing at the casino. Both of these type bonuses apply to terms and conditions of turnover requirements. 
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- ^Grochowski, John (17 June 2003). 'Comps - The Basics'. Casino City Times.
- ^Moro, Marianne (Leaf Group). 'Travel Tips: Atlantic City Casino Tours'. USA Today.
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- ^'CASINO COMPS & YOUR 'AVERAGE DAILY THEORETICAL''. N.E. Time Gambling. August 10, 2016.
- ^Coach Kitty. 'Gambling: Casino THEO: It's All About the Theo'. TravelZork.
- ^Scoblete, Frank. 'Getting the Most from Your Slot Play: Points, Bounceback, Mail Offers and Good Machines'. CasinoCenter.com. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
- ^Coach Kitty (April 19, 2017). 'Caesars Total Rewards Part 4: Generating Casino Offers (Marketing OFfers)'. TravelZork.
- ^Stevens, Michael (June 10, 2018). 'How Comps Work In Gambling (And How to Make Them Work for You)'. GamblingSites.org.
- ^ abRubin, Max (June 2001). Comp City. Huntington Press. ISBN978-0-929712-36-9.
- ^Scott, Jean (July 2005). The Frugal Gambler. Huntington Press. ISBN978-0-929712-40-6.
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Casino comps have become almost mythical. So many gambling experts write about casino comps that players grumble the casinos are giving out fewer comps than before.
That is most likely true; as more people flock to casinos, the properties don’t need to create expensive incentive programs.
My dad remembers when a Las Vegas casino offered free hotel rooms for anyone who would visit Vegas in the 1980s. He doesn’t remember which casino that was, but my guess is that it was Steve Wynn’s The Mirage. At the time, it was the most expensive casino in Vegas.
Casinos make their money on the games. They only build hotels so that players have someplace to sleep and clean up in-between gambling sessions. They only build restaurants so that hungry players get back to gaming as soon as possible.
It makes sense that players should be awarded discounts on as many non-gambling activities as possible. That creates a more valuable experience for the visitors and their families.
Comps exist, and they will never go away. But you’re not likely to be handed a free hotel room in the near future. The casinos reserve the biggest freebies for whales.
So how can everyone else get more free stuff if the casinos are cutting back?
Here are the latest ways to improve your earn rate on comps.
1 – Take Advantage of Players Club Special Offers
The basic comp program for every land-based casino is their member rewards program. The player cards are a 2-edged sword. They not only award us points for playing time, but they track our activities.
Casinos plan their gaming and future rewards around our activities. One year my wife and I counted no less than six casino member rewards cards for each of us. We were playing that often at the casinos.
That was when I began to look at reward programs differently. I asked myself why it took so long for us to earn anything more than a sandwich.
The answer was right in front of us.
We were dividing our time between too many casinos. And, honestly, a couple of those rewards cards were for out-of-state casinos. We just signed up automatically.
To get to the better rewards, players must spend their time at as few casinos as possible. Variety is not only the spice of life. In towns where three or more casinos compete directly against each other, the casinos are paying off fewer rewards per capita.
When deciding which will be your favorite casino, weigh the differences in rewards programs along with other factors like game choices, parking, distance, and prices for their amenities.
Reward programs may differentiate between “status credits” and “rewards points.” Players need to earn status credits to advance to higher tiers. They redeem rewards points for discounts or freebies.
2 – Visit Casinos When They Offer Great Promotional Discounts
Here’s a simple example:
In August 2019, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas offered two complimentary breakfast buffets at the Bacchanal. At the same time, they ran a semi-annual sale, discounting hotel rooms by 25%.
Looking beyond the semi-annual sale, their benefits program page has a chart laying out what the four status levels give you. Just scanning reviews on TripAdvisor, I found people raving about the discounts and freebies they got for having achieved Diamond Status.
3 – Ask Friends to Transfer Credits They Won’t Use
Some rewards programs, like Caesar’s Rewards, allow players to gift credits to other program members. The rules may vary, but people who only visit casinos on rare occasions may have friends who visit more often.
It doesn’t hurt to ask someone you know well to transfer their rewards points to your account.
Comp Hotel Rooms
Study the rewards program rules carefully. Understand what you’re asking for before you do anything. The last thing anyone wants to do is inadvertently violate the rules.
The casino’s rewards program staff will explain what is allowed and what is not. If transfers are available, they should be mentioned in the rules.
4 – Limit Play to High Reward Games
This should be obvious to anyone who understands how rewards points are scored. The more money you wager, the more points you earn.
In most casinos, the earn rate for points is the same across a majority of games. I’ve noticed that table games may set special limits. Players earn points at a lower rate on certain types of wagers.
The other side of that coin is to watch your gambling budget. Playing games with a lower house edge like blackjack and baccarat helps you accumulate more points because your money lasts longer.
Players who only want to play slots should find machines with the highest theoretical return to player.
Video poker and video blackjack games may offer multiple points for multi-hand games.
It may also pay to do some basic math. One gambler realized that the Seminole Hard Rock casinos in Florida were awarding points at different rates on different slot machines. That’s an interesting story but not very useful if only a few casinos are doing this.
Without taking away from the fun experience, choosing the game that takes the least money or awards the most points and credits is an easy way to earn more comps.
If you’re not sure which games award better points, assume they are equal and play the games that have the best RTP.
5- Make Larger or Riskier Wagers
Players who only bet the minimum may be cheating themselves out of rewards points and credits.
While it makes sense to be conservative when playing with a small bankroll, raising the bet after a nice win is a way to increase the comps earn rate.
Some games may award points at a higher rate for larger bets. As always, check the rules before assuming that is so.
Some players feel that busy table games may cheat them of points. The pit boss may not always enter the right numbers into the system for players with cards. In a busy casino, the slot games you can play and video card games are more reliable.
By trading a little bit of player advantage for a high house edge, the comps come in faster. And a player needs a little variety to keep the experience fun and exciting.
6- Gambling Is Not Always Required
When traveling for business, staying at a casino hotel may earn points and status credits. If it fits the business budget, players can rack up points for use at a later time by staying at their favorite casinos.
Local residents often eat at the restaurants inside the casinos. Anyone who lives and works in Vegas can earn points throughout the year by signing up for a rewards program and eating lunch at the buffet or sandwich shop.
Resisting the urge to play a game or two on lunch break takes a little discipline. But the reward becomes sweeter as the unused points grow larger.
One tip circulating on the Internet is to trick pit bosses into recording higher average bets than you normally play. Say you sit down at a blackjack table. The minimum is $25, so you bet $100 until the pit boss enters your average bet into the system. Then you drop to the minimum.
This is a cheap, cheesy way to earn points. And there are other tricks, too.
How Casino Comps Work
I don’t endorse any attempt to game the rewards system. Maybe some casinos let it slide, but there is no reason to be greedy with comps. They are still freely offered and available everywhere.
Comps are a natural competitive business practice. The comps may evolve over time, but players should look forward to enhancing their gaming experiences with as many discounts and free offers as possible.
How To Get Casino Comps
Even if you only qualify for free valet parking, accept it. That makes the time spent in a casino a little more fun.