Play the Comps Game
A casino comp (short for complimentary) is a redeemable rebate casinos return
to member players for their loyalty and patronage. In return for free or discounted meals, drinks, rooms, shows and, in some cases, cash or merchandise, the casinos want players to stay in their 'house' or casino and continue playing.
Important: Casinos give out comps to players whether they win or lose.
Comps are based only on how much money is bet at the tables or coins/credits played through the slots. After hitting a jackpot, I'll always ask for a comped meal--and I've never been refused. Here's how to maximize the comps you get at your favorite casinos:
BEFORE YOU GO
Download free comps from the Internet.
* Casino Central (www.casinocentral.com) offers free information on room, meal, beverage and other promotions, printable coupons and comps via e-mail.
* Las Vegas Online Entertainment Guide (www.lvol.com). contains links to individual hotels with info on comps and other promotions.
* Lodestone's Las Vegas (www.flash.net/~mchino/offers.htm). Rates casino hotels by the ease with which they comp free and discounted rooms.
Ask for a "Better" room rate when making reservations. Available to anyone who is a card member or wishes to apply, this rate will be approximately half the rack rate or free.
ONCE YOU ARRIVE
Join a Slot Club. Free to join, these clubs are run by most every hotel to keep slot players--their bread-and-butter customers--coming back. How they work: Slip the plastic card into the ATM-like reader on the slot machine and earn points with each pull . Make sure the card registers: usually "hello, Gayle" and points accumulated noted. Points are redeemable for discounts on food, drinks and merchandise. Club members also receive information about upcoming promotions via mail. Hint: Because it takes skill to win at a video poker machine, these machines don't earn points as quickly as slots.
Helpful: Sign up at the Promotions booth usually located near the slot machines. Important: Most slot hosts won't know how many points you'll have to earn for specific freebies. Contact the casino marketing office or the events manager for a complete list; all casinos have toll-free numbers. Many casinos have an ATM-like machine (kiosk) on the floor that, once you insert your card, will tell you the number of slot points you've earned and will allow you to print out redemptions with a pin#.
Bonus: Earn points twice as fast by requesting two cards for the same account--one for you, one for your partner. You'll both earn points to the same account. Also: If your partner joins under his or her name later, you'll receive twice as many offers for free rooms and be able to make back-to-back reservations for a longer stay.
Get rated. When joining a table game such as blackjack, ask the pit boss to rate your play. They'll track your play based on the table's minimum bet, how many hands you play and for how long to determine how much worth of comps you'll receive.
Each casino determines comps by its own formula, although there's generally little difference from one to another. On average, playing the quarter slots or the $25 blackjack table for four hours should get you one meal comped at the casino's buffet restaurant. Better: The comp allows you to head straight for the restaurant's VIP or "invited guest" entrance.
In Las Vegas
Tickets to top shows. Including Sigfried & Roy at The Mirage, "O" at
the Ballagio, Danny Gans at Rio, Mystere at Treasure Island and EFX! at the
MGM Grand. Tickets to these long-running production shows cost up to $100 each, yet can be harder to get than seats to see headliners like Wayne Newton and Tom Jones. To be comped: Playing the $75/hand blackjack table for three hours should get you one free ticket. Longer slots play and higher denomination versions are required for this.
Important: Hotels in Las Vegas will "bill-back" free tickets.
Play for three hours at the MGM Grand and they'll get you a comp to the Sigfried & Roy at the Mirage. Let the pit boss know what you're playing for as soon as you sit at the table.
Boarding Pass Club Card. Good at all four Station casinos--Boulder Station, Palace Station, Sunset Station and Texas Station--where the slots are well-known for their liberal payouts. Earn points for rooms as well as food and beverages at 20 restaurants and admission to 40 movie theaters.
In Atlantic City
Harrah's. The Total Card is good at all (16) Harrah's properties in the U.S., including Atlantic City, Vegas, Tahoe and New Orleans. Like airline frequent flyer plans, this program has multiple levels: Gold, Platinum and Diamond. The more you play, the higher you go and the better the comps. Including: Preferred restaurant seating, personal host ,
airline and other travel benefits.
Taj Mahal. The 4,500-square-foot Alexander the Great Suite has its own private steam, sauna and workout room, two separate sleeping quarters, a full kitchen, even a separate butler's entrance. But you don't have to be a high roller to get comped. Any serious club member can request and receive a comp to stay in the suite. However: There's no formula for who gets comped; decisions are made at casino management's discretion.
For more COMPS information, see 101 COMPS Tips booklet by Gayle Mitchell.