Casino Card Swiping Promotions – Does Anyone Really Win?


Casinos love to run promotions to get you To Visit.

Even the most naive gamblers realize this.  In the summer, many “Swipe & Win” promotions are offered at casinos, and New England is no different.

But I’ve never won anything – have you?  I know some do – one friend of mine won $500 with one swipe of their players card.  But for most of us, it’s just another exercise in futility. I’m so tired of “You did not win a prize today, come back and swipe again tomorrow.”  When I read that I hear, “Hey loser, we got you to do this again, didn’t we?”

How do they work?

In these swipe promotions, you swipe your card, then choose something on the screen, hopefully matching something or finding something for a reward.  One patron after another will be disappointed, because it’s a promotion, not a free-play ATM.

I began to think it was very similar to a VERY, VERY low paying slot machine.  Remember, the reels, bonuses, etc, on a slot machine is just the entertainment value for pushing a button, or in the old days, pulling the handle. It could be showing you the latest Stars Wars trailer – it wouldn’t matter.  You push the button, you choose a combination in the RNG (in a milli-second) and what ever you get, you get.  So, I figured, it’s not the choosing, it’s the swipe that counts.  Again – the screen choosing and all that is just the entertainment value. (Or the not-so-entertaining value.)

The Casino Answer Man to the Rescue

So I asked one of the leading gambling experts what he thought of my analysis, John Grochowski – gambling columnist and author. His well-known book The Casino Answer Book explained has explained the basics of casino gambling to beginners and pros since 1998.
He contributes articles to magazines and internet publications to the Casino City Times website, as well as many other websites and magazines. He agreed with me!

(I pat myself on back!)

John also added the following in his email reply:
“You are correct (I LOVE THAT PART!) — the promo programming is basically a low-paying slot, with results determined by an RNG. There’s an extra wrinkle at most casinos. Your players club tier level can make a difference in the odds, whether in more frequent pays (1 in 10 for Tier A, 1 in 20 for Tier B, 1 in 50 for Tier C, for example), or by size of reward, such as most frequent prize being $25 in free play at Tier A, $15 at Tier B, $5 at Tier C.

Mohegan Sun's Momentum Players Club

Mohegan Sun’s Momentum Players Club

Such differential programming would be illegal on a slot machine. You can’t give a player a better chance at winning just because he’s a more frequent customer. But in player rewards, it’s not only legal but expected that the best customers are going to get more comps and perks.”

There a Catch

Every time you participate in a swipe, it is recorded as a visit.  If you visit, swipe, and leave, it is considered a “non-gambling day.”  This means you took a chance on their promo and didn’t give them any play. “So what?” you might ask.  Well, it lowers your ADT – Average Daily Theoretical. For more on that, read “Casino Comps & Your “Average Daily Theoretical”

Once, I asked a host to tell me why my free slot play diminished, since I had given good play two times the previous month for over four hours each time.  His answer included a reference to the  number of times I stopped in for a promotion and didn’t gamble – giving me little credit for the big plays. I only swipe for anything when I’m going for that big play day, otherwise, I just pass by that kiosk without looking.


So, there you have it.  That’s how it works.  Fascinating!  Please check out John’s many gambling articles at, Facebook, and Twitter. You won’t be disappointed.  John has a knack of getting to the truth about gambling.

Thar’s all for now.



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