What better way to promote financial independence, controlling your budget and being able to retire early and responsibly that a post on going to a casino and gambling your money away?
Well, whilst I do have some reservations about promoting this activity, at the same time we have benefited so much from playing the Comp system well several casinos and the latest Trip Report on Las Vegas inspired me to share some of the things we have been given from the comp system. Since it is hard to track exactly how much and where I will break it down by property/trip as per below, then share some tips on how to get the most out of it. Because these posts are quite lengthy it will be a follow up when I share how to leverage it.
Comps are earned by tracking how much you risk at a casino, not how much you win or lose. The casino calculates something called Theo (Theoretical Win) based upon your play. The longer you play, the more you bet and the type of game you play (how stacked in the house favor) are the factors that they calculate comps on. What that means is that even if you win you will still get a kickback for your Loyalty to spending in one specific casino. And from time to time the Casino will over extend itself to you in order to steal your loyalty, or simply bring you back when you were not planning on it so soon.
Atlantic City – Borgata and The Waterclub. (comps for 2012 – $4,600)
Living in NYC this is a great weekend destination, even though Mrs Saverocity is ardently against gambling (read losing) she always has a blast when we go down since the food, room and Spa are all fantastic. The Borgata currently offers me a free room 7 days a week, with Waterclub rooms and Fiore Suites with the exception of some days that have major events. Even on those days I get access to the standard Borgata rooms. I am a Black Card holder with their Comp System which helps with this availability and also gets me a couple of extra perks, here are a list of the perks you get as part of their reward system:
MY BORGATA BENEFITS
|Red Label Benefits
Black Label Benefits (All the Red Label benefits and more)
Getting the Red Label Card is very easy – you just show an ID and signup, they then track your table play (showing your card when you start playing) and slot play (inserting your card into the machine) the Black Label card is offered to people who earn $1000 of Comp Dollars over the course of the year. I actually did not earn that much in comps, I was around the $480 mark, but the Host thought my play was exciting enough to preemptively up my status to Black Label!
Total Comps from The Borgata for 2012- circa $4.600 The Breakdown:
- 6 Weekend Trips Room Cost $500 ($250×2) $3,000
- Earned Comps $480 Comp Dollars (valued at $480 for dining and spa)
- Bonus Comp Dollars $25 per visit x 6 = $150
- Earned Slot Dollars $300 (valued at $100 cash)
- Bonus Slot Dollars $200 (valued at $66 cash)
- Table Matchplay $250 per visit for $1500 (valued at $700 cash)
- Christmas Present – $100 gift (picked a kitchen set of pans actual cost $100)
What I like about the Borgata is they let you check online what current comp boosters you have – so just for turning up at the right time you get a lot of extra perks:
I’ll talk more about timing the visit in my follow up post on gaming the comps!
Atlantic City Revel (comps for 2012 $965)
Revel is the new kid on the block, it is a beautiful complex and they are trying to cater not just for the gambling crowd and instead really push the Resort vibe for weekenders. I liked Revel a lot, but we decided that the Waterclub at Borgata was a favorite simply due to the smaller, more boutique feel and the warmth of the rooms, lobby and pools.
Revel had to reinvent itself in 2012 after launching rather flat – they had ostracized the gaming crowd and quickly discovered that without gamblers casinos don’t make a lot of money! So in an effort to get my action they mailed me an invite to play with the following things for my time (in addition to their regular comp system)
- 2 Free Nights in an Ocean room (on the weekend) valued at $500
- $500 in free slot play (valued at $166 to me but we actually turned it into $365 due to some good luck)
- $100 Dining Credit to use at any Restaurant, we used it at Amado on their fantastic tasting menu!
I later learnt how I was targeted for this – it will be in the follow up post maximizing comps! I was very happy with being given $965 to grace them with my presence!
Revel recently introduced different levels of comp player card like The Borgata and every other Casino in AC, but I don’t have any status with them since I would rather spend my time in The Waterclub.
Las Vegas – Tower Suites at the Encore (comps for 2012 $2,200)
I love Las Vegas, it definitely does make Atlantic City look like the ugly step child of the gaming world, though Revel and The Borgata can compete in my opinion, when you consider not only the Hotel/Casino but also the entire flavor of the town they are worlds apart.
In Las Vegas the top casino for me is the Wynn/Encore. Within the Encore, which is a little more boutique feeling than the Wynn is a Hotel within a Hotel called the Tower Suites. I stayed twice in 2012, and was comped rooms on both occasions. The rooms in the Tower suites are the same size as both the Encore and Wynn but the decor is a little nicer and the private lobby entrance gives a much better vibe.
My comps from the Encore came in the form of free rooms for two trips, and earned comps based upon play – there was nothing on the top like I get offered by Atlantic City casinos:
- Free Room 6 nights @ $250 a night $1,500
- Earned Comp from play $700
Whilst it wasn’t as good as what I got in AC, I have to say the rooms and the stay in the Encore Tower Suites were that much better, plus accommodation in general in Vegas is that much cheaper and I feel you really get what you pay for in this town, the second stay (4 nights) which made up our Las Vegas Trip Report was memorable and I couldn’t have a picked a better place – the $1,000 worth of free rooms for that trip made a real difference and made it wonderful.
Norwegian Cruise Lines – Casinos at Sea (2012 Comp $5,500)
Not satisfied with just Casinos on Land I discovered that NCL has a fantastic comp program, and now I cruise for free (minus port fees and taxes). We took two cruises last year, and have another booked for September 2013 on the NCL Breakaway from New York to Bermuda – hoping that it goes there this time as we had previously booked this cruise and were re-routed to Miami and the Bahamas instead.
Cost of Cruise- for the Breakaway in a Balcony = $1,157 per person plus taxes (brochure price is $2,699 but I would never pay brochure price!) plus taxes and fees. My Casino Rate=$175 per person plus taxes – so almost $2,000 right there!Onboard I get comp drinks in the casino and 2-3 speciality restaurants for free too, including wine which are worth about $100 each.
The cruises we took in 2012 included the Norwegian Epic for New Years, where we saved about $3,000 on the cabin, and the NCL Jade in Europe where we saved similar to the Breakaway, another $2,000.
We also buy a voucher on board these cruises ($250 towards your next cruise) that gives us $100 against our stateroom bill for this cruise. I am excited to check out the new Cabin design on the Breakaway, they moved away from the cheezy looking colors and became a little more sophisticated for the New York Crowd. I do love a balcony too on my Cruises as it affords privacy whilst being able to get outside and not feel claustrophobic like being in a room with 4 walls.
So there you have it – total comps for 2012 are a little over $13,000 and 3 Major Vacations for pretty much free. Whilst the comp game itself does involve some risk, doing it right like this gets you some very neat rewards!