Many people have asked how the recession has affected casino comps (free stuff). It isn’t easy to answer because not all comps have been involved in the same way. Not all casinos have the same approach to comping. Let me explain…

The recession has hit Las Vegas and Atlantic City the hardest. These cities depend on visitors from the surrounding area to stay overnight. In bad times, people tend to stay away from resort areas. The downturn is less severe for casinos that draw their players from nearby regions, such as casinos on Indian reservations, riverboat casinos, and casinos in central cities. They don’t have to attract players from outside the state to survive.

Some casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas will increase their comps to combat this problem. Some casinos will only increase their comps on slots machines. They believe those table game players are more likely to expect lower comps than those who play slots. Advertisement of higher slot comps is more straightforward and more effective. Some casinos in Atlantic City gave away up to 5X slots dollars between October and November. If you make $100 in a single day, they will give $500 to you.

Although this may seem significant, casinos do not give away anything without receiving something in return. For example, a $1 slot machine may offer a 96% return if you play it. Let’s assume that for the next 30 days, you receive 5X slots dollars. The return on the casino’s investment must be lower to 95%. You won’t even know that this compensates for the higher slot dollars.

Some casinos have a completely different approach to bad times. No matter the game, they will tighten their belts to reduce comps. They can achieve this by lowering your theoretical win on table games, which will lower the comp amount.

Some casinos, such as those in the Caribbean islands, rely more heavily on seasons to succeed. The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and other casinos are fully booked between November and April. Even the most skilled players will not be paid as much since casinos will file with people willing to pay. This means that a recession won’t be necessary because the demand is so high during this period.

The Caribbean has more liberal comps from April to November, particularly summer. Because there isn’t enough demand. Caribbean casinos offer package trips that include airfare and don’t require you to gamble. They have enough income during peak periods without much comping to take the off-peak period with generous comping.

Keep track of all the comps. While most casinos will advertise when they increase their slot dollars, you might not be aware of other promotions or giveaways available during slower economic times unless you ask. For information on special promotions, contact a host at the casino, customer service, or the marketing department. They will want your business, even in difficult times. Could you encourage them to work hard for it?