(WMC-TV) – Thousands of Mid-Southerners will hit the casinos this weekend, and next week for the holidays, but before making the trip – there are some secrets you should know about to get the most bang for your buck.
From free cocktails, to courtside seats, and even cars, casinos offer more than jackpots. And using a casino's comp system to your advantage is a game unto itself.
"A comp is short for complimentary, and it simply means something that's free," said Jean Scott, who is known as the "Queen of Comps".
Jean Scott has written several books on how to get the most for your money at any casino.
"You too can be a frugal gambler," she said.
The simplest comp is a free drink while you are playing on the casino floor but experts say players' cards are the key to getting more stuff for free.
A players' card tracks what you invest at slots and table games. You earn points, which can be redeemed for meals, hotel rooms, free play, and contest entries.
Scott says it really pays to give the casino your mailing address.
"Because the casinos love to send mail and they send mail that has offers in it," said Scott.
"The more times you activate your card, the more opportunities we have to give you those offers," said Jessie Keaveny, Ceasars Entertainment.
Jesse Keaveny is the Regional VP of Marketing for Ceasers Entertainment, which owns three casinos in Tunica, and is home of the Total Rewards Loyalty Program.
"By far the largest program in the industry and we're very proud of that," said Keaveny.
Total Rewards points can be redeemed where they are earned or at 40 casinos nationwide.
"So let's say they you played here, you've earned credits, you can go to Las Vegas and redeem those for benefits," said Keaveny.
If you are not a big spender, skip fancy high-end casinos. They are probably saving their comps for high rollers. Opt for a less opulent facility.
"And these mid level doesn't mean that they're grind joints or have sawdust on the floor or anything," said Scott.
Even non-gamblers can cash in comps.
Total Rewards points add up just by shopping at the gift store or dining at a casino restaurant.
Playing the comps is a winning game if you play it right, but Scott warns, do not gamble just to get something for free.
"If you lose $200 while you're trying to earn a $10 buffet, that is going to be the most bitter tasting meal you've ever had in your life," said Scott.
Most players' card programs have tier levels. The more you gamble, the better your chances of getting promoted to get even more freebies, like roundtrip airfare, luxury suites, and spa treatments.
Top tier guests even get a casino host, who is an employee on property who can write comps just for them.