Figuring out the cost of comps, cash back

Jun 25, 2001 1:22 AM

We all like to receive something for nothing. In fact, the Slot Club Card was invented with just that in mind. The one difference? Players certainly do receive that “something” all right, but it’s the “nothing” that builds fabulous casinos and pays the salaries.

Yes, comps, cash back, gifts and points play a major role in why most video poker players won’t even think of playing without a tracking device, but to those who play the game at a serious level, one other benefit makes it all worthwhile. They may apply any value they desire to all these “freebies” in order to satisfy their need to feel as if they’ve beaten the machines. It’s the perfect scheme to defy addiction.

For this reason, local “experts” vigorously disagree with my position that any benefits players obtain for using slot club cards are nothing more than bonuses from the casino as appreciation to loyal customers. Most card users feel very special when the offers arrive, and they are treated with unique recognition when they show up in the V.I.P. check-in areas of the hotels.

What they don’t see, however, is the assigned slot host or hostess keeping track of everything they do. It is their duty, of course, to make the guests as comfortable as possible while the casino does its job in separating them from their money - as much and as often as possible.

Understanding this concept can be beneficial to your financial health. Those who play often and long usually end up playing beyond their means. The fever of receiving continued recognition, gifts, and racking up as many points as possible inexplicably takes over the far more important goal of winning money. It is behavior from otherwise intelligent people that has yet to be explained.

Why shouldn’t these benefits be regarded as profit? Simply because nothing was won. When someone gives you a gift for your birthday, is that part of your winning formula? Many times during the month, several casinos send out cash vouchers in order to rope you in for more play. Is that something you won? Of course not - it’s merely a promotion casinos use to make sure you return. And what about that car the casino gives you for your continued loyalty at the high-limit machines throughout the year? Did you win that too? How much did you really “pay” for it anyway?

Then there’s the famous “cash back.” If player ”˜A’ uses a card, and player ”˜B’ does not, and both put in the exact amount of coin through a certain machine while losing $3000, player ”˜A’ may get $190 for his efforts. Player ”˜B’ will not - his choice. Did the first player really win that $190? Certainly not. Moving to the real point, player ”˜A’ is now likely to return via invite for more losing - over and over again.

He likes the benefits, and probably is controlled by them. Player ”˜B’ may or may not return, and the casino has no record of his even being there. Who is the smarter player in this case?

It’s all an individual choice, but one thing is clear. I’m no longer hooked on using my card all the time, and the sole purpose of my visits to casinos are to leave with more money than I came in with. I have a difficult time understanding why any player would actually believe that doing precisely as the casino wants a gambler to do would ever result in being advantageous to the player.

The benefits are fun, but not what is of greatest importance to a true gambler. For those of you who play for entertainment value, be careful reacting to the enticing offers and gifts, and be wary of what those who chase comps professionally will say.

The slot club cards have a habit of making customers play more often or at higher limits than they can handle. Even if players have had some success, quitting while ahead of the game will be improbable. But finishing your session with more money than you started with is worth the effort.