Getting freebies from a Las Vegas casino isn’t as easy as it used to be but it’s still possible. Before corporations and bean counters took over operations of casinos, getting freebies was pretty easy.
All you had to do was spend some money and wait for a call or mail from a casino. It’s not so easy today since much of the operations are automated. Those freebies aren’t really free - the "gifts", known as comps (short for complimentary), are earned based on spending money in a casino resort.
Some high rollers will receive gifts in advance of a trip to Vegas to lure them to specific casinos but that’s the biggest spending two percent (or so) of casino customers. Most of us have to spend some money to even get on the casinos' radar for comps. Here are some tips to receive freebies from a casino.
1. Always use your player's club card. Using a player's club card ensures that your spending will be tracked. You can still ask a casino host or pit boss for a comp but those kinds of discretionary comps are few and far between for medium to low rollers.
Note, some larger casino players clubs (like MGM’s M Life, Caesars’ Total Rewards, etc.) will reward you for all cash spending in restaurants, etc. in addition to gambling.
2. Make sure your play is tracked correctly. If you’re playing at a machine, just make sure your player's club card is inserted correctly. It may sound silly but the card readers get dirty and may need two or three insertions before working properly.
All table games are tracked by a pit boss and dealer estimating how long you play and how much you wager. They can’t always track your play correctly, especially if you bet different denominations. Check with the pit boss after your session to make sure you were rated properly. Craps players should always do this as the game is almost impossible to keep track of.
3. Know your player's club. Not all player's clubs are the same. They may offer points for different games and at a different rate. Your dollar may earn you more points at one casino than another.
Some casinos will offer points for sports betting but others won’t. Understanding the rules of your favorite player's club will allow you to get the most in return for your money. For example, when lines are equal on the William Hill app and Station app, I’ll use my Station app to earn a few comp points.
4. Bigger isn’t always better. Your dollar means something different in each casino. You may find that you get more freebies from an older casino than you would from the shiny new casino.
This is even the case when gambling at a chain of casinos. You may receive better comps staying and playing at Luxor as opposed to Bellagio. Both casinos are owned by MGM Resorts and part of the M Life players club.
5. Focus your spending. The more you spend with a specific casino player's club, the better the rewards. If you’re spreading your money across multiple casinos and player's clubs, you’ll receive less from each.
It makes sense but you may not be thinking about it when you're out and about in Vegas. You’ll often see people that spend the majority of their money at M Life (MGM) or Total Rewards (Caesars) casinos, so they receive the best rewards. A personal rule of thumb for me is to usually do most of my gambling at the casino I’m staying in.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for a comp. If you feel like you’ve gambled or spent enough money to receive a comp, you should feel free to ask for one. Pit bosses and hosts may say yes. The worst they can do is say no and you move on. They each deal with hundreds of people every day so the odds of them remembering a simple comp request are slim.
7. Play the right slot machines (if you play slots). Returns on slot machines get better for each higher denomination you play. For example, a $1 slot machine will return more than a quarter slot machine, which will return more than a penny slot machine.
Never play beyond your means but the higher denomination you play, the longer you should be on the machine to earn more rewards. If your budget is $0.75 then play a three-quarter slot machine that offers a max-bet bonus instead of 75 lines on a penny slot without a max bet bonus.