There are a number of factors to consider
by Jeffrey Compton
Almost anyone who ever plays in a casino with a slot club card is going to have to make benefit choices. Is it better to redeem your points for cashback or comps? Or is it better to redeem for cashback versus free play? Plus, as most players have a choice of more than one casino (and one slot club) so they have to decide which is better—a club that pays cashback, a club that awards most of its benefits through the mail, or a club that pays only comps.
Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut rules regarding which benefit scheme is best for players, either as a group or individually. Not only are no two players personal benefit agendas exactly alike, but especially when comparing casinos there are several factors beyond the players club to consider.
To make things somewhat simpler let’s review several possible (in fact quite common) scenarios that players run into and what they should consider in each case. All too frequently however these decisions are not made in a quiet contemplative atmosphere, but quickly, at a late hour, when a current and pressing need (hunger, money shortage) is dictating over common sense.
Same Day Cashback vs. Same Day Machine Credits
Scenario: You have 5,000 points and you can receive either $10 in cash or $12 in machine credits. This one is easy, take the machine credits. In many cases you do not have to play them through the machine and even if you do, you only have to play them through once (Yeah I know, easier said than done.) Even if you choose an extremely tight machine, you will lose (on average) about $1.20. Personally, I would choose the machine credits over the cash (especially if I am playing a loose video poker game) even if the amounts were the same, as I get to skip the line at the booth plus a second one at the cashier.
Same Day Cashback verses Same Day Comp
Scenario One: At the same casino you can redeem 5,000 points for either $10 in cash or $10 in comp dollars. With one exception I would always choose the cash because you can use it anywhere, as opposed to the comp dollars which are only good in the casino’s restaurants. In many cases, you cannot get any change from a comp dollar voucher.
What is the exception? If you are already planning to eat at a casino restaurant you enjoy, and you can redeem the exact number of points at the cashier when you pay your bill, then I would consider redeeming your points for the meal. You will get your food faster (because you get to use the VIP line) and in some instants using your points for a meal may save you the 7-8% state tax.
Scenario Two: At the same casino you can redeem 5,000 points for either $10 in cash or $12 in comp dollars. Many of you may think that I would always go for the $12 in comp and in many cases I would, but first I would ask myself a few questions. Do I like the restaurants in the casino? If I don’t, then I go for the cash. Does getting a comp meal at this time really save me money? If I am a tourist, the answer is almost always yes, but if I can go home and eat a meal for $5, then it may be better to take the cash. Finally, am I able to get the same meal through a host (or even the booth) using a discretionary comp, allowing me to get my cash and eat it too?
Scenario Three: Casino A and Casino B are exactly alike, except that Casino A awards same-day cashback and Casino B awards only comp dollars. The problem with this scenario is the first sentence. No two casinos are exactly alike. For example, neither the Palms nor the Rio awards same-day cashback, but the Gold Coast (in walking distance of both) does. These three properties (and their slot clubs) are so different however, that I cannot believe that anyone would prefer one over the other just because their slot club has or does not have same-day cashback.
Over the years several players have told me that although they prefer same-day cashback to a comp-dollar only setup, they find themselves going to the comp-dollar casino more often. Why? Because they have either played away all their cashback before they left or they spent it elsewhere, but they still have unused comp-dollars at the second casino. So they go to Casino B to have a meal and then play.
In all three scenarios, please be aware that a comped meal is not totally expense free. Besides any unplanned costly extras (for example wine), the 20% tip is always on you.
Having to make decisions regarding which benefit, freebie or complimentary is best for you is never a problem—and it should be fun. And whatever you decide, you really cannot go wrong, especially if you enjoyed the result.
Analyzing Common Benefit Choices in Casino.