Important Gambling Innovations – Rewards Cards

In this past decade, major gambling innovations have occurred quickly in the casino industry. Most of these inventions have enhanced the gambling experience. Unfortunately, many also diminish the personal touch with their guests while decreasing the workforce needed. This post is part one in a series about Major Gambling Innovations. Here is “Important Gambling Innovations – Rewards Cards.”

Related Post – Slot Machines, EV & Bankroll

Players Club Cards

Almost any gambling hall you visit will have a players club these days (yes, there are still a few that don’t.)  These “loyalty” clubs, one of many Important Gambling Innovations, are free and are used to track your play. Signing up to be a players club member usually entitles the player to promotions and benefits. Each club has tiers or status levels. Benefits increase with each level.

Many casino companies have many properties connected to one rewards club under their umbrella. As a result, players can earn and use points at connected casinos.

This Week’s Poll Is – Which Rewards Club Benefit Do You Look Forward To The Most. ClicK Here to Vote – Thursday through Sunday!

Before the players’ cards? The pit bosses gave out “discretionary comps” to those players who earned them. Comps (complementaries) like buffets or high price meals to free rooms and airfare were possible at the bosses’ and hosts’ discretion.

Early cards had notches for each player before the casino industry added a magnetic stripe on the back. The magnetic strip was the most critical part of Gambling Innovations in Rewards Cards.”

Rewards Cards
One of my first players’ club cards was Lady Luck in Las Vegas. Notice the divits used for the data – magnetic strips in the back were not universal yet. Notice no name, no number!

Today’s Rewards Cards

The magnetic strip card was the next step in rewards card technology. It stores data by modifying the magnetism of tiny iron-based magnetic particles on a band of magnetic material on the card.

Unlike the old days of discretionary comps, today, computer algorithms decide who earns what purely on their play registered on the player’s Rewards Cards. Even table players are tied to their player’s club decisions these days. However, rated play at tables can still vary due to your play’s pit boss perception – bet amount & time played.

Once the industry added the magnetic strip, casino marketing staff could read personal information when swept through a card reader. This personal information can include the cardholder’s name, address, account number, and account balances. In addition, when player loyalty cards are used, the casino can also track how long a customer plays a game, which games are most frequented, how much money is bet and how much is won.

Benefits and Conspiracies

The Gambling Innovations of Rewards Cards issued credits, or points, to customers who used them. Loyalty points earned can be used for discounts on meals, shows, hotel rooms, etc.

Casino membership cards that show appreciation to patrons can keep casino visitors coming back. Depending on spending levels within a casino, customers earn special privileges through their casino membership cards.

While Gambling Innovations like Rewards Cards are an advantage for players, conspiracies always run rampant in the casino industry. Whenever humans are gambling, it’s easy to find players who believe that something else is causing the winning or losing. Unfortunately, players often start these myths with new technology.

On his website KnowYourSlots.com, Joshua O’Connell summarizes it quite nicely. He says,

“I often see it on forums and Google groups when people talk about slot machines and using a player’s card. Someone inevitably says that they only win when they pull their card out and that the casino controls the payback percentage based on whose card is in the machine. That’s not true… players’ card systems aren’t built-in when a slot machine is manufactured. Casinos add on the system of their choice – so they’re designed to work with or without them.”

So, with its RNG and expected payback percentage over time, the slot machine software is an entirely different system from the players club card. There is no connection, no interaction between them, nada – two completely different systems. Joshua concludes with this, “what is more certain is [players who believe it is] giving up a portion of their payback expectation to the house because of their irrational fear of the players’ card.

Using Your Reward Points – Club Points & Status Credit

Many rewards clubs allow you to use your players’ club points to dine at their restaurants or shop. The player’s points are redeemable. With some rewards clubs, guests can use their points for extra free slot play, but at the price of 2 for 1. (ex., 50 points = $25 slot play).  Many casinos allow you to redeem points to buy concert tickets as well.

Many casinos also keep track of your “status” points. Status or Tier points keep track of your level of play. Your status points accumulate depending on the game you play and the amount of time you play it. Games with a high EV (expected value) like Pai Gow Poker will need more money than played through than, let’s say, Roulette. The EV translates into the house edge. The higher the house edge, the quicker players earn status points.

A perfect example is the difference between playing slots & video poker. Because of the skill involved and the low house edge, video poker usually takes up to 3X the coin-in with the same denomination.

Poor VP Pay outs in many MGM properties. Jacks or better at 7/5.
Video Poker will accumulate points slower than slots.

This Week’s Poll Is – Which Rewards Club Benefit Do You Look Forward To The Most. ClicK Here to Vote – Thursday through Sunday!

Major Gambling Innovations – Rewards Cards – FAQ

Do points expire? – For your redeemable club points, then usually the answer is no. The exception is if you have been inactive for an extended period, usually a year.

Status points usually have dates of expiration. Some casinos start over every half year, others an entire year. So it’s essential to know when for each casino.

Should you always use your rewards card? – Yes, for the most part, but there are exceptions. For example, if stopping in for a quick play and a drink, you might want to play without your card so that a small play doesn’t mess up your ADT. Many Advantage Players will choose when to use cards, considering anonymity better than earning points.

How Long is a Gambling Day? – Know when the gambling day starts. Some start at 6:00, while others start at midnight. Also, be aware of using perks from your rewards card. Playing a little on one gambling day will change your “Daily Theoretical.” A host at Mohegan Sun told me using Momentum Dining Perks meant a gambling day! That’s a ZERO DAILY THEORETICAL!

“what is more certain is [players who believe a connection between rewards cards and machine winning percentage] giving up a portion of their payback expectation to the house because of their irrational fear of the players’ card.

Joshua O’Connell, KnowYourSlots

Related Post – The Ultimate Truth About Casino Players Cards & Slot Machines

More Rewards Cards – FAQ

How Much “money in” equals one point? – Points accumulate at different rates at each casino. Knowing how much money it takes to earn one point helps look for the best player advantage at different casinos. However, casino marketing continues to be an unclear purpose. Another similar question you most likely receive a vague answer to is “how many points equals one dollar earned?” Some casinos are very simple with their calculations. Remember, it never hurts to ask.

Some websites give you answers, such as VPFree2

How Do I Figure It Out for Myself? – It’s not very hard for electronic games.

  • To start, write down or take a picture of your account points and status points.
  • Take $100, and play the same game at the same denomination for the entire $100
  • Before you start playing, figure out how many bets to play. (For example, with $100, playing video poker max bet, quarters denomination, it will take 80 hands. (100 divided by 1.25 = 80).
  • Then check your accumulated points. Again, you should see an increase. That’s how much $100 coin-in gives you in points.
  • NOTE: With video poker, you may have to use $200 or $400 to see the “needle move.”

You can similarly use the same system above at tables, but it becomes more complicated due to more emphasis on time-in.

Does 1 point equal $1 when using my points? – This varies. Some properties, such as MGM Springfield, will charge you 2 points for each dollar. For example, at Borgata in Atlantic City, all stores and restaurants on the casino floor are 1 to 1. But if you go downstairs to their food court, it will cost you $10 in points for a $5 burger. MGM Springfield’s retail stores are similar. BUYER BEWARE!

The Mega-Rewards Club

Some casino rewards clubs have become HUGE due to mergers and acquisitions, such as Caesar’s Rewards or MGM Rewards. Here is a list of the most significant rewards mega-clubs:

  • Eldorado/Caesars
  • MGM International (includes MGM Springfield)
  • Ballys (includes Twin River & Tiverton)
  • Boyd Gaming
  • Penn National (includes Hollywood  Bangor in ME and Plainridge Park In MA)
  • Stations Casinos / Red Rock Resorts (Nevada only)
  • Sands International
  • Genting International
  • Ameristar Casinos
  • Hard Rock Casinos

New England Casino Rewards Clubs

Short Play on Your Rewards Card

Usually, casino marketing looks at the average of your last visits, which could be in days or visits. And it can vary considerably per casino. So beware of that $10 free slot play offer. If you don’t include it into more extensive play, you may be bringing your level down by a visit for free play, eating, and then leaving! (based on personal experience!) Visit a bit less often, and increase your per-visit budget accordingly to maximize each visit.

Finally

Remember, the three things casinos consider for tier levels and comps are:

  1. average bet amount,
  2. time spent, and
  3. game played.

That’s All for now.

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