Casino Card Swiping Promotions – Does Anyone Really Win?

thCasinos love to run promotions – basically, to get you there, of course!

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…or is it?  And 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.

The Slot Machine - What you see is the entertainment in front of the RNG's split second choice when you hit the button or pull the crank.

The Slot Machine – What you see is the entertainment in front of the RNG’s split second choice when you hit the button or pull the crank.

I began to think it was very similar to a 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 SportsCenter, 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.)

So I asked one of the leading gambling experts what he thought of my analysis.

John Grochowski - the Casino Answer Man

John Grochowski – the Casino Answer Man

John Grochowski is a gambling columnist and author. His weekly newspaper column began at the Chicago Sun-Times making him the first casino gambling columnist at a major U.S. newspaper.  His well-known book The Casino Answer Book explained has explained the basics of casino gambling to beginners and pros since 1998.. His other books include The Video Poker Answer Book, The Craps Answer Book and The Slot Machine Answer Book.
He also contributes articles to magazines and internet publications to the Casino City Times website, Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Southern Gaming and Destinations and Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Journal and Slot Manager magazines. And he agreed with me! (pats self 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.”

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.



Leave a Reply