Just imagine this:
You sit down to play the Wizard of Oz slot machine at your favourite casino. You pull out $100 – your entire bankroll – and put it in the machine. You set it to play all 40 lines for one cent each.
Now it’s time to get to work.
You win a couple of pots – a 10 here and a 20 spot there. But your money is slowly dropping back to .35. It’s not enough for one more spin, so you cash out.
But here’s the crazy part:
As you get up to leave, a casino representative walks up to you and says:
We want to thank you for playing at our casino. As a token of our appreciation we would like to give you twenty free spins OR a free…
- Buffet Coupon…OR
- 10% of your losses will be refunded… OR
- A few tickets to see this hot new show.
It’s your choice, and it’s all on the house.
That would be cool, right? We certainly think so.
Well, that really happens. It is called a VIP, loyalty, or rewards program.
This is nothing new – VIP programmes have been around forever.
Go to a coffee shop and you’ll get slapped for every espresso you buy. Same for hairstyles. Ulta, a beauty salon and supply chain, gives you points for everything you buy. These points are converted into cash, which you can use for future purchases.
The point is that you get a bonus for spending your money – something you would do anyway.
Casino VIP programmes are a great way to offset your losses or even extend your game. It’s an indescribable feeling to make $20 just to see you’ve earned $10 in free play. You go from feeling bad to being excited because you can play a little longer.
We are now sure that you are thinking, “Where can I sign up?” And we totally get it.
But, like anything else, there are things you should know about VIP programmes before blindly signing up for one. Otherwise, you could be signing up for a programme that doesn’t reward you for playing your favourite games. Or you sign up only to find out that the bonus you “earned” has terms (in fine print) that prevent you from being able to cash it out. Or something sneaky.
The bottom line : It is in your best interest to have a thorough understanding of casino loyalty programmes before joining a casino. Otherwise you are doing yourself more harm than good.
So let’s start at the beginning.
How do you get registered?
Getting started is quite easy.
Online you become a VIP member as soon as you make your first real money deposit. Sometimes it’s after you’ve made your first (real money) bet. But most of the time you don’t have to do anything but that.
Offline, it depends on the casino.
Some casinos, such as Treasure Island or New York New York, require you to go to customer service to request one. The M is like that too.
Other casinos will walk around and ask (aka badger you) if you want a VIP card.
And some programmes are exclusive; you must be invited or ask permission. These are usually reserved for ‘high rollers’.
But other than that, VIP programmes are not difficult to enter. And they are always free. If you have to jump through hoops or pay for entry, just run the other way.
Once you’re in, you can now play and earn points.
Play games and collect points
Looking in from the outside, VIP programmes are simple. You play. You earn points. Points are exchanged for goodies.
You don’t have to do anything online. Just choose your game and play. The casino’s software will figure out what points you’ve earned and add everything up for you in your player account.
Offline, it’s similar. The biggest difference is that you have a player card. You put that into a special slot machine (if you’re playing a slot machine or video poker machine). Or you give it to a dealer or customer service representative (if you’re playing a table game like blackjack or poker).
But there is one thing that is not so simple. And you should know before joining any VIP program, let alone sitting blindly at a game or table on the casino floor. And that is:
Games are not treated equally. Each game earns points at a different pace.
By playing slots, you get the best possible conversion rate (your money to casino points). That’s because they have some of the worst odds in the casino.
Blackjack, on the other hand, has some of the best odds in the casino. But that’s why casinos tone down the conversion rate so you have to play more to earn the same number of points.
This means that if you have to spend $1 for every point you play on slots, you might have to spend $3 or even $10 to get that same point when playing blackjack.
Doesn’t seem fair to me, does it?
Maybe not, but you have more advantage playing blackjack than slots, so the casino has to tip the scales in their favor. And they do that because they exist to make money. Remember that.
From there, the casino has a minimum number of points that you need to earn before levelling up, converting your points into cash, or anything else their programme has to offer.
For example, to convert your points into cash, many programmes require you to have enough to convert to $5 cash back. Let’s say you need 100 points for every $1 in cash back. You would need 500 points before they would convert it for you.
But when you play a game like video poker or blackjack, you earn points at a slower pace. It could be something like 10% or 25%. That means you’ll need to bet 4x–10x more – or 2,000 to 5,000 points – to earn the same number of points as you would when playing slots.
This is not to say that you should not play games with a low house edge. Not at all, and especially not if you’re good at it. Because you can win money and rewards . You just won’t earn rewards as quickly as slots players.
And keep in mind that many multi-level programmes allow multiples for points. Instead of earning points at a rate of 1:1, you earn them at 2:1, 3:1, and so on. The more you play, the higher you get and the faster you earn points.
The point is that all games at different speeds will earn points, but don’t let that affect the games you choose to play as you can play any game to earn points and thus some great rewards.
What benefits or rewards can you get?
Loyalty programmes vary from casino to casino.
Some casinos that share the same parent company or software may have identical programs. This is not a bad thing if you can collect and use your points for each accommodation. Some let you do this, some don’t.
Some programmes just use a “you spend x, you get y” scheme, while others use a multi-level system where you level up as you earn more points.
With a “spend x, get y” type of program, you usually collect points that you can exchange for cashback.
With a tiered system, you can get better benefits as you level up. You can earn points faster. You can get bigger bonuses. You may receive personalised service. The list can go on and on.
For example, you can get:
- Money Back
- Physical gifts
- One-to-one service
- Earn points faster.
- Earn money back faster with faster points.
- Money refunded for losses
- Match Bonuses (which increase as you level up)
- Free or discounted rooms.
- Free or cheap meals
- Free or discounted parking
- Free or discounted shows
- Free spins
- Freerolls (entry into tournaments with cash prize pools)
- Faster Payouts
- Free or low-cost banking
- Higher table limits
- Higher Deposit Limits
- front of the line (for various things like rooms, shows, banking, etc.)
- Luxury travel or gifts
- Birthday gifts and/or dinners
- Invitations to exclusive events, games, tournaments, etc.
- Play for free (no deposit bonus).
and more. It just depends on the casino.
Let’s look at some real examples of VIP programmes run by online and offline casinos. These are programmes you can join today.
This is a (smaller) layered program. The more points you earn, the more you can receive.
All new players start at the bronze level. You get Silver Status after reaching 300,000 points and Gold Status after reaching 1,000,000 points.
It is important to read their terms and conditions, which state that:
- Not all games contribute or contribute at the same rate to your wagering requirement. (You’ll want to read their terms and conditions to see what’s what.)
- You must wager (roll or play through) your Milestone Bonus 20x within 30 days.
Another thing to note is their conversion rate. As you level up, you go from converting 100 points for $1 to just converting 75 points for $1. That’s 25% faster – a HUGE increase.
This is a much simpler program. One thing to note here is how you earn a different amount of points for each game they offer.
- Slots: 3 points for every $10 bet
- Table games: 2 points for every $10 bet
- Blackjack*: 1 point for every $10 bet
- Video Poker: 1 point for every $10 bet
100 points equals $1 in casino bonuses.
To put this into perspective, you need to earn 3x (300 points) to make $1 playing blackjack or video poker, compared to 100 points playing slots.
They also have a minimum of 500 points before a conversion occurs.
But unlike Bet365, there are no rollover requirements (playback requirements) before you can cash out your bonus money.
This is a good example of a live casino VIP program. You can access poker freerolls, sports betting tickets, free rooms, birthday dinners and more. Even spa compresses and free car washes.
And this is a great example of the benefits you can get from playing live that are simply not available when playing online.
Anyway, the point of showing these three examples is that you can see how much a loyalty programme can differ from casino to casino. Most offer similar things – buffet compositions, shows, free spins, cashback, etc. But the dollar-to-point ratio, points-to-reward ratio, and the overall depth of each programme will vary wildly.
So how do you choose one?
Conclusion: Choosing a VIP Program
The next step is to sign up. That might as well be when you start playing (for real money).
However, we don’t recommend signing up for all of them, because without focus you will never earn enough points at a casino. Then you get nothing with it.
You have to choose a casino or a set of casino properties that share the same points scheme if you really want to earn something.
This is how we recommend you do it:
Find a casino that you like. Make sure they have the games you enjoy playing. Make sure they have excellent service, help quickly and are not rude, abusive or intimidating in any way.
Because if you’re not having fun or enjoying your stay, chances are you’re not going to stick around-no matter how good the benefits are. Then you earn nothing.
Once you have a short list of casinos, check out each VIP program. Remove casinos that do not have programmes immediately. And yes, they do exist (which is CRAZY).
Be sure to compare how quickly you earn points for the games you play. Of course you want to find a programme that earns you more points for every $1 spent. Next, make sure you find the best conversions from points to cashback (or whatever benefits you’re looking for).
Whatever you do, just make sure the VIP programme is the icing on the cake – NOT the cake itself. That should be reserved for the casino and the games.
Then sign up and start playing and reap your rewards.