Free Play is called many different things at different casinos, because the casinos always want to ‘brand’ this as ‘theirs’.
No matter what it’s called, Free Play is virtual money the casino adds to your account to allow you to play ‘on their dime’ before you have to start feeding the machine with your own money.
When you insert your card into the machine, there are a few steps to take that allow you to download these credits to the machine, and play them off. I’m sure you already know that every credit played is carefully tracked in the system.
However, in some casinos, the machine does not recognize credits generated by downloading Free Play as being any different than credits generated by you inserting bills into the machine. So here’s a secret….this is good for you because it means that if you are earning comps or points on the casino’s money.
Some casino tracking systems can tell the difference, and you are not rewarded comps, points towards achieving a tier level, etc. on Free Play credits. If this is important to you, ask a slot or player’s club associate to tell you if comps are earned on Free Play. That may make a difference as to where you play.
Some casinos will restrict what you can do with your Free Play. For example, I know of some that insist that you put at least a $1.00 bill of your own in the machine before the Free Play credits can be activated. Most casinos will not allow you to play a few of the credits off and then ‘cash out’ the remaining credits. You must play the credits, sometimes on the machine you downloaded them to. You may cash out any money you earn using Free Play, but any unused Free Play credits will go back to your account. Additional info here.
Free Play was ‘invented’ to accomplish several things:
It keeps you out of lines at the Players Club or Cage Cashier. Before Free Play, you generally got a mailer each month letting you know that if you came into the casino on certain times or days or weeks of the month, the casino would give you cash for you to play on. (Nothing like cash to motivate people right?) The procedure to get your cash involved taking your offer to the Player’s Club, showing them your card and identification, letting the representative look you up in the system and ‘redeeming’ your offer for cash. At least at some places. Other casinos do not allow Player’s Clubs representatives to handle cash. In those cases, you were given a voucher that you took to a Cage Cashier, and they would give you the actual cash. A lot of standing in line. In addition, remember, the casino is not making a dime while people are in line. Free Play eliminates all that by allowing you to go directly to your machine, downloading the credits and begin spinning.
- It prevents the exchange of cash. I mentioned in the previous paragraph that a lot of casinos do not let the Player’s Club representatives handle cash at their workstations. The primary reason for this is that 80% of the theft in a casino is by the employees. Many representatives with too much time on their hands devised ways to transfer that cash into their own pockets. In addition, there have always been mistakes made when counting out cash, players claiming they never got the cash, or they dropped it and somebody stole it from them, etc. Free Play eliminated that.
- Most importantly, it disassociates you from the idea of playing with cash. There is a huge effort by the casinos to keep you from thinking about the fact that you are putting hard earned cash into the machines or on tables. It’s like the credit card companies-they make it easy to whip out that credit card and swipe it. The less you think of what you are spending as real money, the more likely you are to just spend away. The same with casinos. It’s hard to continually reach into your pocket and keep feeding cold hard cash into the machine. This is why many machines have a ‘credit meter’ and makes it easier to think of what you are playing as credits and not real money. The same holds true for table games. You don’t play with real money, you play with chips.
- Free Play eliminates the Redeem No Play factor. Before free play, many people would get their offer for free cash in the mail, go to the casino, redeem the offer, put the cash in their pocket and walk out without playing. NOT what the casino considers and ideal situation for them. Free play is not real cash so this eliminated that problem for the casino.