Introduction to Earning Complimentary Gifts
This article, Winning Strategy 3: Earning Complimentary Gifts, is next in a series about realistic winning strategies for slot machine casino gambling. This strategy is the most common of all the winning strategies I’ll be presenting.
In fact, the simple fact that casinos give away free slots play upon initially signing up for a players reward club card is likely the very first complimentary gift a slots enthusiast will “earn”. But, there are other types of comps, which can seem quite huge.
So, let’s getting started, shall we?
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Earning Complimentary Gifts as a Gambling Goal
As has been discussed already, everyone has a gambling goal. For some folks, their laudable goal is not to gamble at all. Others want to take money home, to take home more than the bankroll they arrived with.
There are yet other types of slots gamblers, as will be explained more later. Perhaps the largest group of gamblers are those that are there purely for the entertainment value, gambling a small bankroll along with their friends every once in a while as a fun night out.
Whatever a gambler’s goal is for visiting a casino, the use of a players club card while gambling money will result in complimentary gifts, i.e., comps, from the casino. Details of players reward systems were previously provided in the blog article Seven Advantages of Players Clubs or Professor Slots podcast episode 16.
Suffice to say here that such comps can include dinners, gifts, trips, and much more, but that the overall level of comps provided depends heavily on how much an individual plays.
The Average Daily Theoretical, Again
Note that I used the word “play”. Comps are usually based on two factors: the tier level of the gambler and how much that gambler has played or spent recently. To be clear, casino comps are not based on how much gamblers have won, but on how much they have spent.
Free Cruises Aren’t That Free
Take, for example, the typical annual cruise complimentary casino gift. To receive this comp, it is only a matter of achieving the second to highest tier level in the players club. Most players clubs are based on either 4-tier or 5-tier systems.
Typically, an annual 3-day cruise for two people, i.e., one stateroom, is gifted to players that reach the second to highest player tier. An annual 7-day cruise is gifted to players that reach the highest player tier. Airfare isn’t typically included, nor are many fees.
Someday, I’ll add photos from my annual and complimentary 7-day cruises to Alaska and the western Caribbean to my Professor Slots Facebook Page.
I have mentioned cruises as an example because it’s one of the most extravagant comps common within most players clubs, even more common than another typical annual comp automatically received when reaching the top two players tiers: 2-night and 3-night stays in Las Vegas, including airfare and a limousine to and from the airport.
“That’s Easy” – Earning Free Food or Slots Play
But there are other comps available based on amount of play and tier level, rather than just reaching one of the top tier levels. In the beginning tier, most comps are either related to food or free play.
One of the technology changes being seen lately due to new gaming technologies being introduced to new and recently renovated casinos is a much more systematic approach to rewarding comps.
Even as recently as two years ago, players would routinely approach the host station to ask for a complimentary meal which may or may not be granted after the host checks the player’s level of activity.
More recently, however, players are being asked to check their player comp balances via kiosk readers located throughout the casino, or through the player card reader networked at each slot machine.
If they have a sufficient balance in earned points for a complimentary meal, they simply visit the casino dining establishment of their choice directly to have the balance reduced from their player card.
This is yet another example of workforce reduction which casinos are moving forward with due to the next generation of gaming technologies under development for such casino management operating systems.
Earning Complimentary Gifts as Compensation is Common
This strategy of using complimentary gifts as compensation is the most common of all the strategies available to slots enthusiasts. Many players, whatever their tier level, enjoy receiving “free” comps.
Players at beginning tier levels that gamble for entertainment only can occasionally buy their friends a dinner perhaps once or twice a year which is nice to do.
At the next tier level and above, the player may receive free weekly slot play to spend while gambling. I’ve personally found this players club feature to be quite entertaining.
For example, when trying to explain free slot play to non-gamblers, I’ll talk about how it’s a lot like using an ATM to withdraw money, only I’m never exactly sure how much the amount of my withdrawal is going to be.
Be aware that free slot play is usually restricted to a specific day and time of the day in which it can be used.
Further, the maximum amount of weekly or daily free slot play can be significantly different dependent on the specific players club, an amount which is not usually documented in the players club brochure.
Consequently, choosing and investing in a specific casino’s players club may result in having made a financial investment in a club which has a lesser return with regards to free slot play maximum weekly amounts.
Tools for Maximizing Comps
If the gambler’s goal is to maximize comps, then they need to focus on the tools needed to achieve a higher tier level while also maintaining a high level of play. Doing so requires using the strategies in this book, and whatever other opportunities become available, to cycle bankrolls though winning or breaking-even slot machines.
Nevertheless, it is still necessary to be playing a winning machine, or at least on a slot machine winning enough for the player’s bankroll not be fully depleted, in order to maximize the earning of comps.
If the goal is to target certain comps, then focus on the tools needed to reach that goal. For example, a free gourmet burger with fries and a drink once every 5 visits is a laudable goal, as is an occasional visit with friends to the buffet style restaurant usually available in most casino establishments.
If the goal is to receive the 7-day cruise for two, then that too is possible – by reaching the top tier in the players club.
Whatever players club is joined, in order to reach the desired level of comps it is important to understand how many points are earned for the amount spent gambling.
It is also important to understand what other comps will be either automatically provided by the casino, i.e., cruises and trips, as well as what comps will be provided at each tier level based on the amount of play. This is especially true when there is more than one option available due to more than one casino being available to a player.
Unfortunately, players club brochures aren’t very exact with regards to many of the comps that will be available.
While it may outline how many points it takes to get to each tier level, it may not explain the maximum weekly amount of free slot play provided.
This maximum amount can vary from one player’s club to another, where even small weekly differences can be significant when added up over long periods. If more than one casino, and therefore more than one players club is available, research may be needed to determine which casino venue provides the best maximum comps.
Assessing Casinos Based on Their Available Comps
Based on my own experiences, here is perhaps another useful example of the choices that may need to be made under the strategy of maximizing complimentary gifts as compensation: There are two casinos in my area which I have frequented, and they have two different players clubs.
Both have the 3-day and 7-day cruises available for the second-highest and highest tier levels, respectively. Both have 2-night and 3-night trips available to their associated properties in Las Vegas for the same top tier levels. However, at its highest tier one of these players clubs provides an annual lease of a luxury automobile.
However, this casino has far fewer restaurants available on its property than the other casino does. Assuming I want to only choose one of these locations to spend money at, which should I choose? Which would you choose? It entirely depends on what is desired. It’s an individual choice as to which players club to choose, and should be a careful decision.
At the higher end of using this strategy, it is possible to win $10,000 to $15,000 annually in complimentary gifts. For many people that have done this, it was their only compensation from a year of gambling. To do this, they’d fully spent every bankroll.
Whatever jackpot amount was won went back into one slot machine or another. All free slot play was spent. And, at the end of the year, they had two sources of income – tax refunds and complimentary gifts. These returns offset their gambling losses, at least partially.
As a reminder, remember that tax refunds are only possible if gambling records are kept. Because, the value of recording gambling losses is that U.S. federal and state income tax returns allow gambling deductions up to your winnings.
This advantageous concept was previously covered in my last blog article Keeping Gambling Records for Tax Preparation and More or Professor Slots podcast episode 28. For more information on casino assessments, visit my webpage Assessing Casinos for Success or Professor Slots podcast episode 3.
Sorry, But Complimentary Gifts are Taxable Income
Finally, there is the disadvantage of the strategy of complimentary gifts as compensation. It is simply this: taxable income. I am not a tax professional, so please consult with one, but be aware that all compensation is expected to be declared annually as part of your income taxes.
I understand that casinos are quite quiet on this topic, when giving out gifts, but each gift has a fair market value that should be recorded for tax purposes. In my mind, this is a negligible issue under either of the three possible scenarios.
First, at every level of play most gamblers spend more money gambling than they make, i.e., they don’t make a profit. In their annual taxes, therefore, they can only declare a portion of their losses – up to the amount that they won. What they won isn’t just jackpots, but also complimentary gifts.
Declaring complimentary gifts means how much they declare as losses can increase. Usually, as I’ve mentioned, there are sufficiently more losses available to do so.
Second, if I make a small profit winning jackpots than I have to pay taxes on that profit. But declaring all complimentary gifts may reduce or remove that profit – so I won’t have to pay those additional taxes.
Finally, if I make a larger profit which still exists after declaring complimentary gifts as income, then my tax burden was at least reduced somewhat. In all three scenarios, there is no disadvantage to declaring complimentary gifts as taxable income.
Impact on Your Personal Payout Return
Complimentary gifts have monetary value, and can be seen to add to the annual payout return of players. Casinos often report to their state-run gaming commissions that their slots payout percentage is somewhere in the lower 90%, perhaps as high as 93% for some months and years.
My goal in pointing out these strategies is to help players and to educate non-gamblers in ways where individual overall payout return percentages are likely to be improved to the level where their annual payout percentage exceeds 100%.
Comps are provided as a strategy here because they significantly assist in reaching and surpassing a 100% return threshold. Sometimes, this results in the only profit some players see after a full year of play – a deliberate result which they carefully targeted as their gambling goal.
Of course, each individual will need to decide for themselves if the specific comps being offered by a casino are actually desirable or wanted. It can also be difficult to determine what smaller mailer/flyer gifts may be made available by the casino as a year progresses, although they try very hard to select relatively high quality and useful gifts.
But, it does not always go as planned. For instance, I have been gifted with far more (very nice!) electric grills than I quite know what to do with. Yet more holiday gifts for members of my family, I suppose!
I have made an annual profit each year I’ve gambled in part by using this technique I’ve described, then paid taxes on that profit. I am personally happy to pay my taxes, mostly because I enjoy making a profit more than anything else. I encourage everyone to feel the same, if they don’t already.
Summary of Winning Strategy 3: Earning Complimentary Gifts
In summary, earning complimentary gifts are the most common winning strategy, with the first comp typically received when first signing up for a players reward club card.
If a slots enthusiasts has a primary gambling goal of comps, then Winning Strategy 3-Earning Complimentary Gifts is for them. But, whatever a slots gambler’s goal is, the use of a players club card results in earning complimentary gifts.
Whether these comps are free food or slots play, earned on potentially every visit, or travel to exotic locals, a wise slots enthusiast remembers to pick up the free stuff. This assumes, of course, that this free stuff is interesting to them. Of course, regifting to family and friends can be an option….
The tools for maximizing the earning of complimentary gifts as compensation is, in many ways, the central purpose of my Professor Slots website and podcast. It is possible to not earn complimentary gifts, but who would want to avoid all of them?
Therefore, let’s have a plan, and tools, for handling earning, using, and making the most of complimentary gifts as a valuable and sometimes delightful compensation for the time we spend playing slot machines. As I tell my college students, “I don’t care what your plan is. I care that you have a plan.”
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