Casino Comps 101

By Henry Tamburin

Here’s a primer on casino comps. Just remember this golden rule: If you don’t ask for a casino comp, you’ll never get one.

What is a Casino Comp?
A “comp” is an abbreviation for complimentary. They are the free goods and services provided by the casino to its players. Comps can range on the low end to free drinks and free valet parking all the way up to free room, food, beverage and transportation.

What are the Requirements to Get a Comp?
The only requirement is that you gamble. Most casinos require that you bet at a certain level and play for a specific period of time in order to qualify for a comp. The more you bet and the longer you play the higher the level of comp you can expect.

I Thought Comps Were Only For High-Rollers?
That’s one of the misconceptions about comps. You don’t need to be a high roller to get a comp. Yes, we all know the stories about high rollers that get shuttled to and from Las Vegas on a private jet, picked up in a chauffeured stretched limo, given a luxury suite twice the size of your home, and dine in ultra-swank gourmet restaurants “on the house.” But casinos also offer valuable comps to low rollers that include free meals, free or discounted rooms, and free show tickets.

Why do Casinos Give Players Comps?
Casinos need steady customers and they know there is a lot of competition for players. Therefore, they offer comps to loyal players as a reward for their business. Comps also have a way of making players rationalize their losses so they return again to the same property. Comps also stimulate players into betting at higher levels and longer because most players mistakenly believe that when they get a comp they are getting something for nothing.

Do I Have To Lose To Get a Comp?
This is another misconception. Comps are not based on how much you lose (or win) but on the total amount of money you’ve wagered (known as the amount of “action” you give the casino). All the casinos want is a shot at your money at their tables and machines.

How Do I Get a Comp if I Play the Machines?
You need to sign up for a Player’s Card and keep it inserted into the machine’s card reader while you play. The casino’s computer will keep track of how much money you play through the machine. Always make sure your card is registering properly so you get credit for your play. Also check at the Player’s Club if you are entitled to any freebies just for joining (casinos often have promotions to entice players to sign up).

How Do I Get a Comp if I Play the Tables?
You must ask to be ‘rated’ when you play in the pits in order to be eligible for a comp. Getting rated means the pit boss or floor supervisor will keep track of the hours you play and your average bet size. In some casinos you can use your Player’s Card to get rated while others issue a different rating card for table players. If unsure just inquire at the Players Club or ask a casino host. When you sit down to play just slide the card to the dealer with your buy-in and the dealer will hand it to the floor supervisor, who will begin the rating process (in some casinos the dealer has a device on the table that he/she uses to swipe your card to initiate the rating process). 

Are There Any Tricks of the Trade to Getting More Comps Faster?
Yes, and two good books to help are More Frugal Gambling by Jean Scott andComp City by Max Rubin.

Are There Any Downsides to Comps?
Most players are envious of other players who get “comped.” These players play right into the casino’s hands because by betting more and longer than they intended in the pursuit of a comp, most players will end up losing more then the comp was worth. Never play longer or bet more for the sake of a comp. Just learn how to use the system to get your fair share of comps for your normal play.

Henry Tamburin, Ph.D. is a well-known and respected blackjack expert with over 500 published articles on blackjack that have appeared in numerous print magazines, newsletters, and online sites over the past 45 years. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide (free to read at https://www.888casino.com/blog/blackjack-strategy-guide), and a regular invitee to the Blackjack Ball, which is an exclusive gathering of the world’s top professional blackjack players.