Free Cash or Free Credit?

Many times people try to figure out if they’re given the choice between cash from a casino or slot credits from a casino, which should they pick? And like the excellent attorney that I am, my answer to them is a consistent, “It Depends!”.

It depends on a fair number of factors such as the value of each offer, the expiration dates of the offers, and whether you play at the casino of the offers. For example, let’s take a recent offer I received from Harrah’s casino chain. The offer was either a “Reel Reward” voucher good for $500 in slot/video poker credit OR cash money good for $300. First, we’d best make sure we’re speaking the same language. A slot/video poker voucher looks like a ticket the machines print off for you when you choose to cash out any money you might have left on your credit meter when you’re done gambling. It’s commonly referred to as a “Ticket In/Ticket Out” (herein: TITO) slip. You take your voucher for whatever dollar amount has been given to you by the casino and you insert it into the slot or video poker machine and it will automatically credit your gambling amount to the value of the voucher. If the voucher is worth $500, well now it’s just as if you had put five $100 bills into the machine yourself.

So which should I go opt for? Well, IT DEPENDS! On the one hand, it’s always nice to add three Franklin’s to your bankroll! Without ever gambling a dime, you’re up $300!! Now take that $300 go buy yourself a couple tickets to a show, order up a big juicy steak filet with a bottle of wine, or pocket the cash and go the heck home! But here’s the problem with that approach: You need only screw the casino out of their money a couple times and those offer will dry up real quick! Of course, if you’re a table games player (craps, blackjack, roulette) you may prefer to add the $300 cash to your gambling bankroll and play it at the tables. That’s certainly acceptable.

Or you could take the $500 voucher, put it in the machine and now you’re playing on the casino’s dime and not your own! If you have a really bad losing streak, you’re not out anything; you still have your original (untouched) bankroll sitting safely in your pocket. The bigger bonus: If you’re using your player’s card (and we know you are because you’re a smart gambler) all those points you’ve just accumulated are free points that didn’t cost you anything to earn.

But some people try to be sneaky! What they’ll attempt to do is put the voucher in, play one hand of video poker or one spin on the slot machine and then try to cash out the remaining balance. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. The way they usually work is that you can only cash out your winnings, not your original voucher amount. The slot/video poker machine has an internal “brain” that knows the difference between what you’ve won and how much money you’ve left on your voucher credit. So if you do cash out, it will spit out a TITO slip but will keep whatever balance you’ve not played on the voucher credit—forcing you to continue playing.

This brings up a good reminder! Always put your voucher in a machine you know you like playing as you can’t cash it out just because you don’t like the game itself. I learned this the hard way as I once put a voucher in a machine that LOOKED fun, only to discover that it was actually a very boring slot machine. It was too late, regretfully, and I was stuck there playing it darn machine until I lost the voucher credit amount. I don’t mind losing money (especially casino’s money) but I at least want to have some fun while losing it!

The other thing to consider is when the expiration date of either offer occurs first. Usually what will happen is the cash option typically expires well before the voucher option lapses. Why you wonder? Because it technically doesn’t cost them anything to give you a voucher, compared to $300 which could walk straight out the door. They figure there’s a decent chance if they can get you into their casino, you’ll stay for a while to gamble with some of YOUR money. Tricky little buggers, aren’t they??

So whether you should opt for a smaller amount of cash versus a larger amount of free credit is all based upon your gambling goals.

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