Comping at the Casino

The best casinos don’t just offer tables, slots and poker rooms; they also feature top-notch hotels, spas and restaurants. Some are famous for their fountain shows, such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Others have long been associated with glamour or history, like the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco or the elegant Spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany.

Most casinos offer free drinks, food and other amenities to lure gamblers and keep them gambling. This is known as comping, and the practice continues to be important to casino profits. In addition to free food and drink, casinos often offer perks such as hotel rooms, limo service and tickets to shows, depending on how much the player spends. High rollers get the most benefits.

In the past, casinos tended to focus on customer service and tried to maximize revenue by filling rooms and the gaming floor with as many people as possible. This strategy was not always successful, but it did work well in places such as Reno and Las Vegas, where mob money provided the bankrolls for the early casinos. Mob figures got involved in the businesses and sometimes took sole or partial ownership of the casinos.

In the twentieth century, casinos have become choosier about their customers. They try to entice high-stakes players with special rooms separate from the main floor, where stakes can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. These high-stakes gamblers are given “comps” worth a great deal of money and lavish personal attention. They can even be flown in on private jets.