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Good Reasons to Join a Slot Club
Whether you play at casinos or work in the front lines, sooner or later you will need to know the basics of the slot club. If you play slots, there are basic reasons why you should never do so withoutFrank Legato is recognized nationally as an expert in the history and operations of slot machines. He regularly conducts seminars for both the professional trade and the playing public. Frank shares his 20 years of researching, writing about, and playing the slots in his book How to Win Millions Playing Slot Machines! … or Lose Trying. a player’s club card inserted. However, even if you don’t play slots, if you walk the casino’s floors as a front-line employee, sooner or later a customer will ask you about your casino’s slot club. While it will help to know the particulars of your own casino’s slot club, it is also good to know the answers to the most-asked customer questions on slot clubs in general. Here are ten of the most frequently asked questions on slot club basics, along with the correct answers.
Q Why should I join a slot club?
A Quite simply, you should join a slot club—and use the card any time you play slots—so you get something back from the casino at which you play. Slot club cards record the action you’re giving the casino, whether you win or lose. Even if you win, the casino will reward you for giving them action in the first place.
The house edge on slots is just too large to ignore the opportunity to get something back. A slot club card, by rewarding you with cashback and comps, makes significant headway in slicing a percent or two off a house edge that can be more than 10 percent.
A This is the most frequent question you may get from a customer concerning the slot club at your casino, so it may be good to stop by the slot club booth and get the formula your casino uses. In general, though, points are earned according to the number of credits or coins played. It may be a point for every dollar wagered, a point for every $10 wagered, etc. The good news here It does not have to be out-of-pocket wagers. If you wager an initial $10, win $20 and play those credits down, you have wagered at least $30 toward earning points. If the credit meter went up and down before bottoming out, you got even more credit toward points.
Q Do rewards depend on how much you win or lose?
A No, they do not—only on the total amount wagered. It is true that the casino will keep a record of your win/loss amount for every session, but that information is secondary to the total amount wagered, win or lose. Actually, the win/loss record is more valuable to the player than it is to the casino, for reasons we will outline later.
Q Does use of the slot club card affect how much I will win?
A One of the most common misconceptions concerning slot clubs is the notion that the casinos gauge how much players are winning through the card—that if you use a player’s club card, you will win less; or if you do not use a card you will win more. The player’s club card is only there to record play. It is hooked to a reading apparatus that is completely separate from the random number generator which controls whether or not the game returns a winning result on any given spin or poker hand. The slot club card has absolutely no effect on the results of the slot game to which it is linked. The slot club is linked to the marketing department, which is concerned about how much you play, not how much you win or lose.
Q If my play is really substantial, won’t I be rewarded by the casino regardless of whether or not I use a card?
A Not necessarily. Without a card to record your play, it is hit-or-miss whether a high level of play will be noticed. Close, human-eye scrutiny is generally reserved for the table game pit, where the numbers of players are low enough that a pit boss or host can observe large wagers. On a slot floor, there are thousands of games being played by thousands of players. The only way to let the casino know that you are a better player than the hundreds of other players in a casino at a given time is to have your play recorded and tracked through the slot club system.
Q How do I get cashback? How is it determined?
A Cashback is determined as a portion of coin-in—say, 2 cents for every dollar wagered, for instance. Different casinos use different formulas for determining cashback, and different methods for permitting players to redeem it. There are only a few casinos left in Atlantic City that award “same-day” cashback—in other words, if you play a certain level, you can redeem cashback on the spot, either right through the machine (as at the Sands) or by going to a kiosk (Taj Mahal, Tropicana). Most of the casinos in town will mail a cash voucher to players of the cashback earned on a trip, with a date by which the voucher must be redeemed. (It is a tool to get you back in the house.)
Q If I collect cash rewards from my slot club card, does it reduce the comps I may earn?
A No. Cashback and comps are generally tabulated separately. Comps are easier to earn than cashback, so generally, your comp total will rise more quickly than your cashback total. In most casinos, you can check both your cash and comp balance at a kiosk—where you can redeem either, or both, without one affecting the other.
Q Are the slot club rewards better for video poker or regular slots?
A Generally, they are better for regular slots, but not because of the nature of the game itself—it is because of a lower payback percentage on the slots than the video poker games, and because a skillful player can reduce the house edge on video poker but not on slots. Overall, the “tighter” a game is (i.e., the lower the theoretical payback percentage is), the faster the cashback and comp balances will rise. Casinos, after all, make more money if more players frequent the games with the highest house edge, so anything that can be done to encourage that play, will be done. Games like video poker, in which the house edge can be reduced through skillful play, generally return less in the way of cashback and comps.
However, note that this is only a general rule. Some casinos have excruciatingly tight video poker games, and may be able to afford higher cashback. Most Atlantic City casinos, though, give back less in cash and comps on the video poker games than on the regular slot games.
Q Will my points at one casino transfer to another Atlantic City casino owned by the same operator?
A Only where the casino operator has combined its slot clubs from different properties into a single system. In Atlantic City, that means the two Harrah’s properties, Harrah’s Atlantic City and Showboat. To a lesser extent, it means the three casinos under one roof at Bally’s Atlantic City. However, in the latter case, for legal purposes, those three casinos—Bally’s, Wild Wild West and Claridge—are technically one casino, so that doesn’t really count. Points are not transferable between the Bally’s properties and the other two Caesars Entertainment properties, Caesars Atlantic City and the Hilton. Each of the three Trump properties has its own, independent slot club, so points earned at the Taj Mahal, for instance, will not transfer to Trump Marina or Trump Plaza.
The coming round of industry consolidation may change things in this respect. Harrah’s will eventually own Bally’s and Caesars. Because Harrah’s Total Rewards program is a nationwide slot club, with points transferable among any of the Harrah’s properties across the nation, it is likely points will eventually be transferable between Harrah’s, Showboat, Bally’s and Caesars. The Atlantic City Hilton is in the process of being purchased by Colony Capital, the owner of Resorts.
Q What are the biggest benefits of the casino having a record of my play?
A The obvious benefit is the recognition of you as a valued customer, and as we said before, for the guarantee that you will get at least something back from the casino for the money you spend on the games. But for frequent players, a secondary benefit is the win/loss record we talked about before. Anyone who wins a good number of jackpots requiring W2G tax forms to be completed knows that the win/loss record—providing it shows an overall loss—is a valid document for submission with tax returns to cancel out the taxes owed on the Form 1099 the casino will send out at the end of the year. No, losses on a win/loss record cannot be used as a deduction for which you will be reimbursed by the government. However, they can be used to compensate for the income shown on Form 1099 as gambling income—in other words, they can be used toward breaking even on the taxes that may be owed on winnings.
The most important record, though, to be maintained through membership in a slot club is not how much you won or lost, but how much you played. This is the key record determining how much you will be given in cashback rewards, and how much you will be comped.
The bottom line: Never, never play slots without a club card inserted in that reader. End of lesson.