The truth about Casino Comps

So you’ve been on a losing streak at the casinos lately and are feeling like quite a loser, but you open your inbox and notice that you’ve received a notification that your favourite casino has extended a comp (or “complimentary”) to you and suddenly your day brightens and you feel like a winner and think that maybe your luck really is changing and so you head off to the casino to play.

Just like that the casino has cleverly enticed you back with a little perk that enables you to “gamble on the house“.  This marketing and retention strategy is common amongst both online and brick and mortar casinos and you can be given “complimentary” items that extend from free credits to hotel suites, tickets and more to keep you coming back.

Comps are often used to make players feel important, and generally the more “comped” someone is, the more “valued” they feel and appear to be.  This is a trap that most people fall into, because generally the more comps someone receives, the more they play and lose at the casinos.  Comps also serve as a huge incentive to gamble more because the more you play, the more comps you’ll inevitably receive…are you seeing the pattern here?

It’s not all doom and gloom though and comps aren’t completely useless, if used wisely, they can decrease your losses or increase your wins.  For the majority of people they serve to decrease losses of the money one may have spent anyway.  There is however, a way to ensure that comps help you to win, but for that you need to understand how they are calculated in the first place based on the casino’s rating system.  This usually takes a variety of factors into account including the game played, the duration of play, the time of the visit and size of the wager.  This can get pretty complex but there is a formula to help you:

(Hands played x wager per hand x hours played) x house edge = projected profit for the casino

To use blackjack as an example: Let’s say you play 80 hands per hour with an average bet of $10 and you play for 3 hours. That’s:

80 x 10 x 3 = $2,400

You have wagered a total of $2,400. The standard house edge in blackjack is 2%.

2,400 x 2% = 48

This means that the casino expects to take out $48. Given that the casino will generally comp around 20% of their blackjack profits, which entitles you to a $9.60 comp for the $48 you lose. When you use the blackjack strategy card however, the house edge is decreased to 0.5% which means that you only lose $12 instead of $48. 

At land based casinos this advantage can be even better because you still get comped and if you play slowly you’ll lose less but still get a comp because they don’t have the monitoring online casinos do.  On the other hand, because of their monitoring, online casinos often give out comps more often based on your wagering.

So if you understand and use comps wisely, you can in fact benefit…just try to avoid games with the higher house edges like slots when using these!