In the context of casinos, comps are complimentary items and services given out by casinos to encourage players to gamble. The amount of comps that a player is given usually depends on what game they play, how much they bet, and how long they play. Most casinos have casino hosts who are responsible for giving out free items and contacting players to bring them back to the casino. Pit bosses can also award comps at table games. Most casinos now require a player to have a player's club or similar card, so that their play can be tracked and comps awarded.
The second level of comp that many players earn is free meals. Many casinos have several restaurants and may require more play to earn a comp to the higher-end restaurant. Often the player is given a certain amount to spend, but sometimes, particularly with high rollers, the player may be given the right to order as much food as they want.
The next level of comps is usually free hotel rooms. Many casinos have attached hotels, but those that do not may have the ability to comp rooms to a hotel nearby. Many casino hotels have higher quality rooms, such as suites, villas, presidential suites and so on for bigger bettors. Many players who receive hotel rooms receive a package called "RFB" for "room, food, and beverage" or "RF" for smaller bettors, or jurisdictions where casinos are not allowed to give free alcohol.
Many casinos also offer other comps, especially to high rollers. These may include airfare reimbursement, limo rides, tickets to shows, golf, free concierge services, cash back, money to show up in the casino, loss rebates, private gaming areas, and private jet service.
Casinos also frequently offer players comps by mail. These may be free bet offers, free meals, discounted or free rooms, or entries into tournaments or prize drawings.
Some casinos contract with bus companies to bring players in. Riders often enjoy free slot play, dining coupons and other benefits, often worth as much as the bus fare itself.
Technically, every player may be offered comps but most casinos require players to have played for a given period of time and play at a certain level. The period of play and amount wagered are directly proportional to the level of expected comps. Casinos award comps based on a player's theoretical loss, or "theo" for short. The theoretical loss is the amount of money a player is expected to lose based on the long run statistical advantage the casino has on the particular game being played.
Theoretical loss is calculated as follows:
Theoretical Loss = (Casino Advantage) × (Total Wager)
Players known as comp hustlers attempt to maximize the amount of comps that they receive, as well as minimize their expected losses in gambling to receive those comps. Comp hustlers play games with a low house advantage, such as blackjack or video poker, or games with small bet sizes such as penny slots. Comp hustlers may use tactics such as placing large bets when a pit boss is checking their bet size to rate them for comps, and then moving to a smaller bet size when the boss is not watching. They may also take frequent breaks from playing, play at full tables to be dealt fewer hands per hour, and play more slowly. Comp hustling is a type of advantage gambling if the player is able to hustle more in comps than their average cost of gambling.
Online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks offer a variety of bonuses that are similar to brick and mortar casino comps. Like with comp hunters, these bonuses can similarly be used by advantage players to turn a profit via bonus hunting, or can be converted to a guaranteed profit using the technique of matched betting. Many online casino operators are aware of the potential for losing money while giving out bonuses. As such, there is often a minimun wagering requirement before cashing out. Some casinos will limit the payout in case of a win. Also they may restrict players from playing certain games, often those games with a low house advantage. And, they may require players to bet the bonus amount multiple times before being able to cash out. For example, a casino may require a player to bet the bonus amount 50 times before being able to cash out. So, for a $100 bonus, a player would have to bet $5000 before being able to cash out. It is most important to check the wagering requirements of a bonus.
- Customers Happy in Casinos. ABCNews. Nov. 1, 2007.
- Comps - The Basics. 17 June 2003. John Grochowski
- "THE EXPERTS GUIDE TO COMPS". www.smartgaming.com. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- Rubin, Max Comp City. June 2001, Huntington Press. ISBN 978-0-929712-36-9
- Scott, Jean The Frugal Gambler July 2005, Huntington Press. ISBN 978-0-929712-40-6