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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Ask the Slot Expert: Does getting comps from a host at a casino affect the offers you get in the mail?

Ask the Slot Expert: Does getting comps from a host at a casino affect the offers you get in the mail?

12 September 2018

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: If I use room and food comps, does that lower my comp balance and then I may not get room comp offers potentially?

Answer: I'll answer based on my own experiences with the caveat that your mileage may vary. Other casinos may have different policies, and it may matter if the casino caters to locals or tourists and whether you're a local or a tourist. Your level of play may also make a difference.

First, we have to distinguish between room and food offers that you get in the mail versus those you get from a host on the property. Comps you get from a host go against your comp balance ("I'm sorry, you don't have enough play for a comp at our Greasy Spoon Buffet." And here's a twist. A friend was once told by a host that he could not write a comp until my friend had used up all of his points.) Host comps, when you can get them, lower your comp balance.

The offers you get in the mail, on the other hand, don't depend on how much is in your comp account and using them does not (necessarily) decrease your comp balance. The difference is because mailed offers are designed to get you back in the casino; they are most likely charged to a marketing budget. With a host comp, you're already at the property.

In my experience with higher-end tourist-targeting properties on the Strip, mailed offers are far more generous than anything a player of my level could get from a host. About 20 years ago, Treasure Island had a simple way to get the casino rate on your room. Play $750 through any of their many 9/6 Jacks machines (or any other machine, slot or video poker, for that matter) and you could get the casino rate on your room, no questions asked. It was printed right in the slot club brochure.

I found out, the hard way, that other strip casinos were somewhat less generous. After considerably more play than $750, I asked at the slot club desk at the Desert Inn if I could get the casino rate on my room. The attendant checked my play. I think she didn't stop laughing until Steve Wynn closed the place.

My next stop on that trip was Caesars Palace. You wanna make a cabbie mad, hail him at the Desert Inn with your luggage and then, while he's figuring out how he's going to spend your fare to the airport, tell him that you only want to go a mile down the road to Caesars Palace. After a few days staying and playing there, I asked if I could get the casino rate on any of my nights. Another politely phrased statement saying that they couldn't do it.

After I had played at both properties, I received generous mailings offering free and reduced-rate room nights and free food. Comps that were impossible for a player of my level to get at the property were mailed to me in order to get me to come back.

By the way, on-site comps were also hard to get for higher level players. Rudi Schiffer, the host of the long-running Good Times Radio Show, told me of his visit to Caesars Palace. He played black chip craps for an hour or so and asked if he could get a buffet. He was told that he didn't have enough play. He left.

Getting back to me, I didn't have enough in my comp account to cover the mailed offers because I couldn't get them when I was at the property. So they must not be based on what was in my comp account. Casinos don't reveal how they determine what offers they mail to a player, but the formula includes some of these aspects of your play: how much you play per day (or per trip or last month or the last three months), what card tier you've achieved, what games you play, how often you visit, past offers you've used and, for all we know, the price of tea in China. As I've written in the past, you'll never be able to figure out the relationship between your play and your offers and your friends' play and their offers.

A friend once asked the rep at the slot club booth why the offers in her mailer switched from one buffet a week to two buffets twice a month to two buffets for the month. The rep said that the monthly mailers were produced by the marketing department and that she did not know how they determined the offers they sent.

Finally, consider this: Mailed offers are to lure you back. Even if you had used every penny in your comp allowance, wouldn't the casino still want to dangle a carrot in front of you to get you back?

To sum up, using mailed offers probably does not affect the comps you can get onsite. And getting comps onsite probably doesn't affect the offers you get.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

John Robison
John  Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming's leading publications. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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