Understanding Comps

What is a Comp, Anyway?

Sample comp offer
Written by Joshua

Part of being a smarter player of slots (or any other casino game for that matter) is understanding comps and how to use them to your advantage. But if you’re newer to this or aren’t familiar with the terms, you might not know what a comp is. So let’s get that covered, as it’s a core part of what we’re all about.

Comp is short for Complimentary, and as the word means it’s something you get for free for being a patron of the casino. Whether it be a hotel stay, freeplay, a meal, resort credit, comp dollars, all of these are Complimentaries you earn for your play at a casino.

A History of Freebies

Comps have always had their place at a casino. While systems are much more precise today, in earlier days it would be playing at a table for awhile and then asking a pit boss for a comp such as a buffet. Even back then, comps were seen as a customer-friendly approach to keeping players happy and at the casino.

As systems evolved and became more computerized, comps became more precise as big data systems could look at a player’s gaming patterns, bet and visit histories, player location, and the casino’s own goals to decide exactly what sort of offers will be extended to a player.

Comp programs also factor in how many comp dollars, basically money that can be spent at a casino or casino chain, that players earn just for their play. There are a standard part of the advertised programs nowadays, and are provided in exchange for cards always being presented and used so precise player tracking data can be achieved. This is why smart players always ensure their play is being tracked, as you’ll maximize your return by getting the comps you’ve rightly earned.

Comps are Marketing Dollars

Excalibur come back offer
This comp offer includes a room, free play and resort credit, all designed to encourage a return visit.

If you haven’t noticed, most comps are designed to get you to either spend more time or money at the casino, or make a return trip. Comps are specifically designed to drive players back to the casino. Most casinos budget anywhere from 20-30% of your play back in comp offers, and are usually a combination of hotel offers, freeplay, food and beverage, resort credit, free gifts, show tickets, and other special promotions.

Marketers know that different people respond to different things, so you might get one offer while another player gets another – they’re looking at what’s brought you in and what offers you’re accepting; if you’re close to the casino a hotel comp may be less enticing so they’ll probably offer something else instead, like a free gift. I’ve had many a casino visit where people are walking around with large appliances – they can be a big draw if that’s what you’re in to! And many will then go play some slots while they’re there – mission accomplished.

So if you’re ever wondering why many casinos have overall paybacks of 88-92%, it comes down to the fact that a portion of the hold pays for facilities, staff, and other basic operating costs, but another large chunk is what they use to coax you back for another visit.

If one fourth of what they earned are you are turned right back around into offers, they have to have enough hold on their games to cover it all. But don’t worry – the casinos aren’t going to cry poverty because they’ve already worked this out in their math.

Offers Can Differ By Property

In future pieces here we’ll talk about how comps can differ from one casino to another, and understanding how to play at the right places to maximize what you want out of casino comps. But at a high level, fancier properties are likely going to expect more play to get the same thing as a budget hotel and casino.

So, for instance, if a room is important but you’re not a high roller, you probably shouldn’t set your sights on the Wynn. If you’re playing in a market like Las Vegas, you might find one mLife hotel offers you more resort credit than another, or you might have resort fees waived at one property over another. Usually the higher-end properties will give you less and the entry-level properties more. So if a basic room to sleep is OK, you’ll usually get to repurpose that hotel budget for other stuff like food or freeplay.

As such, make sure you play where you can earn comps that mean something to you. And make sure you’re collecting your share by ensuring all your play is rated and you’re collecting any earned comps on each visit.

What’s the best comp you’ve ever received, or redeemed? Share your experiences in the comments!

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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