Casinos used to offer cash to bring players back, but there was always the risk that players didn’t actually play, and there have been other ways to provide offers that encouraged players to play.
Those are now the dominant forms of casino offers found today. They primarily come in three basic forms:
- Free play: Free play is focused on the slot player. It’s designed to be the equivalent of cash in slot machines, allowing for a certain dollar amount of wagers to be made on the house. Anything won or lost after a single wager is now cash and can be redeemed, or continued to be used to play.
- Free bet: A free bet is effectively a similar opportunity, but at the tables, on an even money wager. Examples of this are a hand of Blackjack, the pass line on the craps table, or a black/red or even/odd bet on Roulette. Generally speaking it’s a one time bet, and the slip is either replaced with a chip if won, or the slip taken if a loss. In this example, if you have a $10 free bet, you either receive $10 for a win or nothing for a loss.
- Match play: Match play is also used on a table game even money bet, but requires you to match the wager with one of your own. So on a $10 match play, your slip is worth $10, and you must also wager $10. In this scenario you’d win $20 (plus keep your $10 wager) for a win, but lose $10 for a loss. As such, there’s a better win potential (because the overall wager is higher), but you have some risk, unlike the free options above.
On a rare occasion, the Free Bet or Match Play offer is play until you lose, a more generous version that lets you keep trying until you lose your slip. I’ve never personally encountered one, but I’ve seen accounts of them here or there. But for the most part they tend to be provided as one-time use opportunities, which helps the casino to be able to better quantify the cost of offering such a promotion.
Most often a casino will tailor such offers to be based on a player’s normal playing patterns – free play will be awarded to slot players, and free bets or match plays to table players. On rare occasions, you can get awarded both – that has been my experience with The D in Las Vegas, although I tend to play both pretty frequently myself at that property.
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