In Las Vegas, comps (“complimentaries” or freebies) are handed out to those gambling a certain amount (a lot) of money. Depending on how much you spend, you could be comped a free meal, a show ticket, or even your room for the length of your stay. Even low rollers like me can score free drinks while playing the penny slots. This is part of what makes gambling fun. I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff?
Except this is just one of the many ways Vegas psychs people out. Because in this case, “free” isn’t really free. It’s more like the casino version of a cashback credit card or an airline rewards card. You’re being rewarded for spending money by getting something in return that is worth a fraction of what you spent. If you’re playing max bet at bartop video poker, you’ll get a free drink, all right, but if you’re not winning, you can run through $60 in 30 minutes of play or less. That’s a pretty expensive “free” drink.
But it’s not just money that can lose its value in the chasing of comps. You’ve heard the expression “Time is money”? You have to consider what your time is worth, too. Which brings me to the reason why I am writing today’s post: The online game called myVEGAS.
More and more Vegas visitors are chasing comps via a Facebook game called myVEGAS. This is a free game, so it costs you no money (in theory), but you can rack up points that can be exchanged for real-world comps in Vegas, like meals, shows, drinks and even rooms. Sounds like a screaming deal, right?
My Experiment Using myVEGAS
I have to admit, I don’t play online games, so I found the popularity of myVEGAS baffling at first. Don’t people have better things to do with their time? I thought. Last spring, I decided to sign up for myVEGAS to see what all the fuss was about. I wrote down my initial thoughts during my first few rounds playing the game. Here’s what I wrote, verbatim:
Oh God. It IS fun. I played the game for 15 minutes and I can easily see why people get hooked on this. It’s like playing slots in Vegas on someone else’s dime—and you win a lot more than you do on real machines! Good Lord, it’s insidious! It’s like drug dealers handing out free samples of crack so they can get you hooked and keep you coming back for more! AUGH!
After years of diligently hiding every reference of every fricking Facebook game that my friends have ever played, now Facebook thinks I actually want to see that stuff again. No, Facebook, I don’t want to play Farmville! FML.
After that I forgot to record my thoughts, but I can easily tell you what I like and don’t like about myVEGAS.
What I like:
- It’s fun to play slots for free.
- It’s cool that you can earn freebies for playing.
- There’s an auto-spin button so you can set a certain bet and the game will play itself for 10, 25, 50, 100 or 200 spins while you go off and do something else. Thank God for automation.
What I don’t like:
- Every single time I logged into myVEGAS, I would have to click through 3-4 pop-up boxes that wanted me to buy things or hand over my credit card number to Facebook. I have found no way to shut those boxes off permanently.
- The variety of games is limited, so after awhile, I got sick of playing the same games all the time.
- The games often caused my computer to freeze, and I’d have to reboot it.
- There are certain restrictions for redemptions that I find limiting, like you can only redeem 3 things in a certain period of time and you can’t redeem for more than one of the same thing at a time.
- Most importantly, you have to play for a very long time to accumulate the amount of rewards points needed to get any of the good comps.
This game is seriously time-consuming
I quickly learned there were sneaky ways of accumulating points faster, but they were all things I wasn’t willing to do, like:
- Bug my Facebook friends to play, too
- Create a fake Facebook account and friend thousands of other myVEGAS players (total strangers to me) to accumulate more points every day
- Sign up for a credit card I don’t want
- Buy game points
- Share my credit card with Facebook
So I had to earn my points the old-fashioned way: Slowly, over time.
By the time of my July trip to Vegas, I had enough points to redeem for something small. But I couldn’t do it, because everything I wanted was constantly “sold out.” No matter what time of day or day of the week I checked, they were always sold out. I finally learned that they roll over the comps every day at 7am Vegas time, or 10am Eastern time (my time). So I started checking at 10am. STILL SOLD OUT. What kind of racket is this? I thought. I gave up.
I thought about disabling the app on Facebook at that time. But I had another trip coming up in October and I knew I wouldn’t be able to write about myVEGAS until I’d actually gone through the process of redeeming points. So I kept playing. By September, I had earned enough points to redeem them for:
- a free Saturday night stay at the Luxor
- a free breakfast at the Luxor’s buffet
- a free margarita at Tacos & Tequila at the Luxor
Shockingly, all were available at 7pm on a Saturday night. I clicked “redeem” and felt triumphant.
The redemption process itself went smoothly. I called the number that myVEGAS gave me to book my Saturday night hotel comp. It was a bit of a hassle to make 2 different bookings, because I booked the other 5 nights on a special offer I received through my Mlife (MGM Resorts’ loyalty club) account. But everything worked out just fine.
I printed up my redemptions for the free drink and buffet. I brought them to the Mlife counter at the Luxor to get them loaded onto my players card. All I had to do was tell the staff at the buffet and at Tacos & Tequila that I had the comp on my card. In both places, it worked without a hitch. (Note: Redemptions don’t include gratuities, so remember you still need to tip your server.)
Is It Worth It?
That depends on how much free time you have and whether you enjoy spending it playing online games, and how diligent you are about finding ways to get around the rules to increase your freebies with less effort. I personally found it to be a huge waste of time.
Of the 3 comps I received, only the Saturday night stay at the Luxor was of any value (my fault for two bad choices, I guess). Even then, I would have been better off just paying cash. Here’s why:
- Cost of Luxor breakfast buffet: $16.
- Cost of margarita: $12.
- Approximate cost of Saturday night stay at the Luxor (guesstimate, I forgot to write it down): $150
- Number of hours at my day job to earn the money to pay for these things: 6.35.
- Approximate number of hours spent playing myVEGAS to earn these things (calculated as 180 days x 40 minutes per day average, a conservative estimate): 120.
- Value of 120 hours of my time based on my salary: $3,326
If it’s true that “time is money” then I spent $3,326 on an undrinkable margarita, a terrible breakfast, and a hotel room at the Luxor for one night. Those are pretty damn expensive “freebies” if you ask me.
But that’s just my opinion of myVEGAS. What’s yours–love it, hate it, or haven’t tried it?