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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Casino Comps Less Personal but Just as Valuable

20 June 2007

Ever since gaming legend Benny Binion began the casino industry tradition of serving complimentary drinks to customers at his downtown Las Vegas casino back in the 50's, "freebies" are something gamblers have come to expect.

No one who includes casino gambling as part of their regular entertainment wants to pay for food or beverage, or for that matter hotel rooms and anything else, during their casino visits.

The casino gambling industry uses "comps", as they are known in the trade, not only to grow business but to create loyalty among existing customers and keep them on property and away from the competition's doors. Giving away overnight stays and dinners in the steak house also translate into guaranteed visits to the gaming floor.

Comps are perks that make casino guests feel important and that their patronage of the property is appreciated. In a cash-driven business supported by gambling, it's a customer service luxury that casino owners can well afford.

The dispensing of comps used to be done on a much more personal basis, usually by a shift manager or pit supervisor. Today it's a scientific procedure driven by computer databases and controlled by marketing and player development divisions.

The accumulation of points based upon play and the prolific utilization of direct snail-mail communication have relegated comps for average players to ordinary retail coupons.

There is still room, however, for one-on-one communication if you use a little imagination and follow some simple guidelines.

If, for example, you're a player planning a trip to a casino at which you've never gambled, establish personal contact with a casino host prior to your visit. Mentioning your games of choice, your level of play, even the tier you're at in the competition's player's club, can't hurt. Casinos are always trying to win over new customers, especially premium players.

When you're on property, ask for the host by name and make it a point to introduce yourself. Name and face recognition can mean a great deal more than an ID number in a database.

It is the desire of casino hosts to accommodate guests, not alienate them. Comps cost a casino a fraction of their face value. They don't want to say "no", but they're not mind-readers, either. If you speak up politely in regard to your experiences during your visit, either good or bad, the host will make every effort to encourage you to make a return visit.

Dollars and cents decisions regarding comps are based upon the player profile that pops up when the host enters your account number in the computer. By using your player's club card you develop equity and make yourself eligible not only for direct mail comps but also cash back. Player's clubs are self serving for the casinos in that they encourage brand loyalty, but there's value to the customer as well.

The method by which a player's worth is determined is pretty much standard in the gaming industry. A gambler's "theoretical loss" is a formula that factors in a combination of length of playing time, average wager and the house edge on the game that's being played.

On the other hand, properties differ in the redemption value they place on player's club points. That value varies among gaming jurisdictions as well as among properties within a particular market. Becoming familiar with the rewards you receive in return for the level of play at which you feel comfortable should be a factor in where you decide to play.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp