How Do Casinos Determine Free Play?

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The formula for free play is not something casinos will publicly talk about, and casinos don’t all calculate offers in quite the same way, but the general idea is pretty standard and so we can go over this at a high level.

A casino will tend to look at a few data points that tend to be consistent, as they are the most important indicators as to your play:

  • The house advantage of the game(s) you are playing
  • How long you play
  • How many wagers you make
  • How much each wager is

These data points tend to go into a formula that calculate what’s often called Average Daily Theoretical (ADT). Note that it’s not what you actually lose that tends to matter, but what you’re expected to lose – this is because you can have winning sessions and brutal losing sessions, but most casinos trust the math that over time, the games that are designed to make the casinos money will do just that. 

Generally speaking, casinos will offer somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of your expected loss on a given visit as an enticement through offers to try to woo you back for another visit. Offers encompass a variety of things, including free play, food credits, hotel discounts or comps, and so on.

As such, part of the calculation often is where you live. If you live close to the casino, many casinos will put less emphasis on hotel rooms, whereas if you live a couple of hours away, they may put the hotel in a stronger position in your offer, with the aim of getting you to spend more time on property. After all, if you have to drive 4-5 hours total between getting there and back, you only have so much time in a day to play. 

If you live away from Las Vegas, for instance, it’s often why offers are a complete unit of hotel room, resort credit and free play – they know you’re traveling so they’re offering a complete package to woo you back.

The how long you play aspect is one other important part for many casinos – wagering $500 by betting on black on Roulette once is examined very differently than bringing $500 to play on slots for a few hours doing $2 spins. That one bet on Roulette is close to a coin flip – either they’re going to win your $500 or you’re going to win $500 from them. 

But on the slots, all those wagers increases the chances they’re going to win something off of you, given each and every bet comes with a chance to win some money, and having hundreds of opportunities works in the house’s favor over the course of a few hours. This is why host will often advise players to ensure they play for a few hours to maximize their offers – that length of play is factored into things too.

So that at a high level is how the casinos determine your free play – it’s a formula based on your amount and level of play, and how long you’re at the casino.

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