Smarter Gambling Understanding Comps

Progressive Play Offers: What to Keep in Mind When Gambling for More

Binion's gambling sign
Written by Joshua

Every so often a casino will roll out a promotion where the more you play, the more you win. I encountered one while in Palm Springs, where Agua Caliente’s Cathedral City location was doing a promotion around their essentials shop.

They had four milestones, and each time you hit one, you received a voucher worth credit in the Essentials shop. Play more, and you earn the next voucher.

Critically for their promotion, you got to keep each voucher and collect the next one, which isn’t always the case – when Caesars casinos run these promotions, they often upgrade the prize, but you only get the one you upgraded to in the end.

Agua Caliente tier promotion

Here is the structure for this particular promotion. Agua Caliente’s card program earns you 3 points for every $10 of coin-in on slots (video poker is $20 of coin-in per point).

So, based on the above, you would need to do the following coin-in to earn each voucher:

  • $10 voucher: $200 in coin-in
  • $15 voucher: $300 in additional coin-in
  • $25 voucher: $670 in additional coin-in
  • $35 voucher: $830 in additional coin-in

The first two vouchers work out to roughly $20 coin-in per $1 earned. However, the $25 voucher increases to $26.80 coin-in per $1 earned, and the last one drops to $23.71 coin-in per $1 earned.

You’re not going to be able to overcome the house edge on slots with such a promotion (perhaps with video poker you could), but you’ll get $85 in total credit for the shop, plus the $6 in points you earned, a total of $91 for $2000 in coin-in. Of course, with that amount of coin-in you could be up big or down big, so as with any promotion it doesn’t make sense to play above your means to chase a bigger prize.

In my case, I set a budget (which I had for the trip anyway), went in, and claimed $50 in Essentials vouchers without too much of a sweat in terms of staying within my budget. I considered going for the last voucher, but I realized time was running out (the promotion ended at a certain point, since the Essentials shop closed relatively early in the evening that day).

When looking at such promotions, it helps to evaluate how much gambling is required to push forward, and what your regular budget is likely to accomplish. It may make sense to concentrate play during a promotion like this, and push your budget into a window where such promotions are active, because what you get back may have a lot more value than the average comp visit. Or, conversely, it may prove mathematically to not be all that valuable.

Like any offer, you should review what it gets you vs. what you want, and decide if it’s the right day to play. You should never play for comps, but if you’re going to play, maximizing your comps is a sound strategy. In my case, I was able to take budget I had already earmarked for the trip and get a bit more out of it, a handy bonus.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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