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Casino Promotions and Giveaways

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One of the great things about the proliferation of casinos in the United States is that the very expansion of gaming makes casino promotions and giveaways a better deal for players. As competition for a player's time and money heats up, casinos offer better and better deals and freebies to entice continued play. And, it's not like the grocery store where they mark the price up on a product before giving you a "discount." Each casino's games and odds are set. Anything offered beyond those returns are really freebies.

Nearly every casino these days has some type of player loyalty program, usually in the form of a player's club. Players build up points based on their average bet and the amount of time they spend gambling. No problem there, but don't be afraid to check your points from time to time at the club desk and make sure your card is getting tracked properly.

Most players can also qualify for a casino rate (discounted room charge) on their hotel stay if the hotel is affiliated with the casino. Again, this is standard and not a surprise. However, don't forget that many casinos have concierge service that may well offer discounted theater and show tickets, discounts for limo or town car service, and other specials for casino guests.

Giveaways and Prizes

Now for the sobering news on promos. Not every promo is a good or fair deal. When you get your monthly flier from the casino or drop by and hear about a drawing or giveaway, you really need to read the fine print. Many promotions are based on previous play, not just the current play you are involved in. Some casinos give "electronic drawing tickets" based on that previous play, and you receive x-number of entries in their drawing based on that. You may find you have only one or two tickets out of tens of thousands.

The opposite can also be true, and you may find that the monthly drawing does not include any play before a certain date. Read up and learn, and don't expect the people at the club desk to know for sure about any promotion!

If you see a sign that says 5x Points on Monday, find out how the promotion works. I've seen properties offer this when in fact the first Monday you play is 2x points, then 3x points - then 4x and finally 5x in a single month. If you miss a Monday, the best you can get is 4x your points and the program starts over each month. It never hurts to ask.

Make Sure You Are Entered

Just because you played during a promotion period does not mean you are entered to win! Because live giveaways involve calling the winners and waiting for them to claim their prizes, most drawings (especially the electronic type) now require that you sign up or are entered just a few hours before the drawing. Otherwise the MC could be waiting for hours to actually get a player to claim a prize. Don't miss out.

You may pay taxes on your winnings in a giveaway. Any cash prize of $600 or more will involve a 1099 IRS form - and it could be taxable, depending on your tax situation. A non-cash prize (like a big screen TV) is also likely to be taxable. Don't fret, you can always get a tax statement from the casino.

Getting a Win-Loss Statement

If you are using your player's club card, all of your play is being rated and recorded. Slot wins and loses are kept electronically. Table game play is tracked as well as possible by the floor supervisors, and yes, you can get a statement of your annual total from either the club desk or guest services. If you show a loss, you don't have to worry about the prize you won - just the chips you lost!

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