Casino Comps Are Not Status Symbols

By Bill Burton
We all know that the casinos are in business to make money. The casinos are in the entertainment business and like any other corporate enterprise they look at ways to generate more business and increase their bottom line.  Unlike a supermarket or retail outlet, they can’t have a sale and slash the prices to generate more business. Instead they rely on promotions and special events to get you in the door. Once they get you into the casino their goal is to entice you to play longer. We know the casinos make their money because they have a house edge on all the games so it’s only logical that the more you play the more money the casino will make in the long run.

One way the casinos get you to play longer is by offering entertaining games. Each year the casino executives attend the gaming show in Las Vegas and try to find the next new hot slot machine or table game that will capture the interest (and dollars) from the players. Another method the casinos use to get you to play longer is to offer you incentives or rewards for your play. They do this by offering comps or freebies to the players. The comps can range from free key chains all the way up to free suites with all meal and beverages included. (This is known as full RFB). Most players know about comps and this article is not going to explain how to get them, instead I want to look into one of the psychological aspects of comps that affects many players.

Some players look at their comp level as a status symbol or a means of judging their importance. The casinos do nothing to dispel this. Why should they if it is achieving their goal of getting the people to play longer? If you want to see the ultimate marketing tool, all you have to do is turn on one of the television shows profiling the “high rollers” and see the tours of the luxury suites with the butlers where they stay and the lavish gifts that the casinos give them. 

Like that neighbor with a shiny new sports car, this can lead other players to envy them or make them want to “keep up with the Joneses” by playing more to get to a to a higher comp level. The $5 players looks at the comps given to the $25 player who in turn looks at the comps given to the $100 player and on it goes.

The other day I was at a party and a man there was bragging to a group people that he could get full RFB anytime at one of the biggest casinos on the Strip in Las Vegas. After he left one of the people in the group turned to me and said, “Gee I’ don’t even rate enough to get casino rate at that place.”

I said, “Don’t worry about it. It just means your not losing enough money.”

Some players erroneously equate their self-worth with the level of comps they are receiving from the casino. Nothing could be further from the truth and you should never look at comps this way. You have to remember that the casinos issue comps based on your theoretical LOSS. This means that the players with the most comps are the biggest losers over all. Sure they are getting rooms and show and many other amenities but they are paying for them in the long run.

The issuing of comps is one of the greatest marketing tools that the casinos have devised. Everyone enjoys being recognized and made to feel important and appreciated and comps are a way of doing this. It’s a business decision and giving high end comps is a way that the casinos have of rewarding some of their biggest customers.

Casino comps are just a rebate based on the money you spend. Play the games at your level, have fun and take whatever comps come your way. Comps are nice but you should never mistake your comp level with who you are as a person. I have met more of the nicest people in the buffet line than I have at the gourmet restaurants.  

Bill Burton is the author of “1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets” and "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em."