By Jeffrey Compton
Raise your right hand and repeat after me: I will investigate every slot club at every casino I visit. I will not deposit my hard-earned money into any slot or video poker machine unless I belong to that slot club. I will always use my slot club card even if I deposit a single quarter.
Why should you join every slot club? Because you have nothing to lose and everything, literally, to gain even if you do not gamble a dime in that casino. Many clubs give free gifts or discount coupons to anyone who fills out the application form. Casino shops and restaurants frequently offer 10-15% discounts to anyone with a slot club card. A month from now you could receive offers for discounted rooms or food, an invitation to your own birthday party, even a coupon for cash, in the mail. But first you have to go to the booth and join.
Signing up for the Club
But I hate long lines, you say. A long line is not necessary a bad sign. In fact, I would be concerned about a booth that no one ever wanted to visit. Sometimes a promotion or mailed coupon creates an unavoidable rush at the booth -- or it may be a Sunday or a holiday. Maybe a busload of folks has just arrived.
So what do you do while I wait? Two things, first, look to see if there are any flyers, including the club brochure, at the booth and read them while you wait or chat with the customers about this casino and any others in the neighborhood. You might even eavesdrop on the conversations at the booth (is everyone voicing the same concern?)
Once at the booth, introduce yourself (including where you are from) and asked to fill out an application for the club. Fill out the form (legibly), supplying your name, address, birthday, and (sometimes) your social security number. You may also be asked to produce picture identification, such as a driver's license. Most clubs require photo identification when you sign up; they all require it when you redeem your points for a prize, especially cash. This is done for several reasons, including player verification ("It's for your own protection") and compliance with state gaming regulations and federal tax law.
Many clubs, especially in the South and Midwest, will input the necessary information directly off your driver's license in lieu of you filling out a form. Please make sure to tell them if your address has changed since you obtained the license. Once the attendant has entered the information, have them read back your address including city, state and zip code. If any of this information is incorrect, you may not receive valuable slot club benefits.
The signup form usually has a place for you to identify your gambling preferences, hobbies, and interests, such as slot tournaments, sports betting, bingo, etc. In order to be included in as many special mailings as possible, check off any and all boxes that even mildly interest you.
Not that long ago, casinos only allowed married couples to have a joint account, but most have changed with the times. Today, almost any two consenting adults living at same address (and some casinos do not care if they live at separate addresses) can have a joint account.
Because of a desire to have everyone they can appear on their mailing list, no casino officially allows friends not listed on the account to run up points on your account, but most will not get too upset if you are both in the casino at the same time. Be aware though, that if there is a slot or video poker promotion (double payout on sevens) that requires slot club card use, your friend will not be awarded the bonus if the slot card is not in his name or he is not listed on the account.
While signing up, be observant of booth personnel. Are they incompetent, barely able to open an account and print out a membership card? Are they merely keypunching your card and rattling off a routine, oblivious to your specific concerns? Or are they intelligent and accommodating, eager to answer all your questions and make you feel welcome?