Even though no one can tell you where to spend the money you earn from your job, investments or retirement, casinos often restrict where you can spend the comp dollars you earn from your slot, video poker and table game play.
While at most Atlantic City casinos you must use your comps at casino-owned restaurants, shops and spas on the premises, several now allow you to use them elsewhere - even outside Atlantic City and at non-casino venues. At most non-casino restaurants, comp dollars will cover the cost of your meal, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and any taxes. They cannot be used for gratuities. In addition, some restaurants and retail outlets may redeem comp dollars at a 2:1 ratio. Be sure to ask first.
Atlantic Club Casino Hotel - Atlantic Club cardholders may convert their comps to vouchers redeemable at participating local businesses. Vouchers are available in increments of $5, $10 and $20 (up to $200). Visit the Destination Shoppe to convert your comps and get more information. For a complete list of where the certificates are accepted, go to AtlanticClubCasino.com/locals.
Bally's and Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Resort and Showboat Casino-Hotel - Total Rewards cardholders may use their comp dollars at the Pier Shops at Caesars (restrictions apply), Morton's at Caesars, to purchase Macy's gift cards, and at any of nearly 40 casinos throughout the United States and at Caesars Windsor in Ontario, Canada. For a complete list of participating casinos, go to TotalRewards.com.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa - Comp dollars may be converted into My Borgata Vacations certificates. There is a minimum $50 purchase and certificates are good for nine months. Participating hotels include Main Street Station, The Orleans, Sam's Town and Suncoast in Las Vegas; Blue Chip in Michigan City, Ind.; Par-A-Dice in Peoria, Ill.; Delta Downs in Vinton, La.; and Sam's Towns in Tunica, Miss., and Shreveport, La. Guests present their certificates at the front desk upon check-in and the total amount is added as a credit to their folio. Simply charge to your room meals at participating restaurants, tickets to in-house shows and spa treatments, and those charges - up to the amount of your certificate(s) - will be credited.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City - 24 Karat Club cardholders may use their comp dollars at any of the following participating restaurants: Big Fish Seafood Bistro, Princeton; Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., New York; The Crab House, Edgewater; Chart House, Weehawken, and Philadelphia; Rainforest Caf�, Edison; McCormick & Schmick's Seafood and Steaks, Bridgewater and Cherry Hill, Philadelphia, and New York; Morton's The Steakhouse, Hackensack, King of Prussia, Pa., Philadelphia and Great Neck, N.Y.; Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse, New York; and William Douglas Steakhouse, Cherry Hill. At the conclusion of your meal, present your 24 Karat Club card, along with ID.
Resorts Casino Hotel - Star cardholders may use their comp dollars for dining, shopping, nightlife and entertainment options, hotel rooms, spa treatments, and golf fees at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
Tropicana Casino and Resort - The Quarter at Tropicana accepts Trop Advantage comp dollars at restaurants and retail outlets.
Thinking outside casino
You've heard of thinking outside the box. Well, Trump Plaza is thinking outside the casino.
Through Sept. 1, that's where you'll find the casino's Jackpot Prize Patrol, on the Boardwalk in front of the Plaza from noon to 4 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Scan the QR code on one of their T-shirts to receive a bonus entry into that day's $1,000 drawing at 8 p.m. All Trump One cardholders already have one free daily entry, but must earn at least 20 tier points to activate their entries.
Ask Mr. AC Casino
Q: My wife and I usually each take a $500 bankroll and play Quarter Double Double Bonus Poker. Quite frequently I win a $1,000 royal flush shortly after starting to play. Though I continue playing on and off the rest of the day, as well as the next day, I don't have another big win of any kind again, losing my original bankroll and the royal win. We find it quite a coincidence that after winning a royal, we get only three-of-kind no matter what video poker game we play. I have heard from employees at several casinos that our player's cards are programmed to record our every move and know exactly how we play, and this gives the casinos the edge every time. Is this a myth? Also, it seems that all Atlantic City casinos now are "shut down" from giving any four-of-a-kind wins during the day. One weekday I played at five different quarter video poker machines at the same casino, and went through my entire bankroll without one win. We recently spent a week in Las Vegas, and their machines pay out the same all day and night. What do you think?
A: Yes, it's a myth that using a player's card gives a casino any edge. While your player's card is programmed to capture information about your play –– how long you play, at what denominations, what types of machines you play, etc. –– the computer recording this is totally separate from the one which controls the video poker or slot machine operation. Using your player's card will tell casinos how much value you bring to them, and help determine how you will be rewarded –– reduced-price or complimentary accommodations, free play, invitations to parties, concerts or special events, etc. What you're experiencing has nothing to do with using your player's card. Regarding your second question, casinos cannot "shut down" certain wins any more than a player can force a machine to pay off by rubbing the screen, alternating play with and without a player's card inserted, or "decorating" the machine with stuffed animals, pictures of grandchildren or religious artifacts. Believe me, I've seen all this and more.
Have a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, player's club or other promotion? Email Mr. AC Casino: darryl@21stSensoryManagement.com. He'll try to respond to you personally, and your question –– without your name –– may appear in a future column.
Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. He is based in Wilmington, Del. His column appears every other week.