The word comps is an abbreviation of complimentary. Comps are additional bonuses, cash or incentives given to players based on their play. They are not based on losses but rather the mount of action a player gives to a casino. By action we means the amount wagered.
When staying at a casino hotel comps generally range from free rooms to show tickets and free meals. Your play at a land-based casinos is either tracked by a player card or by the floor staff. The more you wager the more comps you will be given. If you are a really big player you may even get free private jet trips to and from your favorite casino - of course this is reserved for the biggest high rollers.
Online comp and VIP programs tend to only offer extra casino credits although some casinos are starting to offer points stores where you can convert your points to other merchandise such as watches, cars, vacations or tickets to sporting events or live shows. One of the great features of playing online is that all play is automatically recorded and comped.
Comps can also help you reduce the house edge For example let's say you play perfect strategy on full pay Jacks or Better. The house edge comes in at 0.46%. If you get 0.1% comps the actual edge for your game play is reduced to 0.36% or almost a quarter less. Of course casinos also keep this in mind so you will rarely get a high enough comps percentage to reduce the edge too far.
Let's take a look at how comp points work. In this example we will use a common rate used at many online casinos - every $10 bet earns 1 point. You can convert every 100 points into $1. This means that you need to wager $1000 to earn $1 worth of comps. This equates to a 0.01% cash back. This might seem like it is a waste of time but you have to keep in mind that wagering includes ever bet you make win, lose or draw so you can wager thousands of dollars even on a small deposit especially if you get luck and have some nice wins.
Quite a few online casinos offer different point rates for different games. For example it is quite common for play on slots to earn triple points. This means that to get a $1 of comps you only need to wager $333 which gives you a cash back of about 0.03%. The other variation is the value of the points. Many comp programs have levels where the higher up you go the more the points are worth.
A popular Playtech online casinos has seven a seven level VIP program. At the highest level you can convert 70 points into $1. This means that if you play slots you only have to wager around $225 to earn the $1 which bring the cash back higher again.
One point worth noting is that it never makes mathematical sense to play only with the aim of earning comps. While you can get some great rewards the amount of wagering needed means that comps should always be seen as an added bonus rather than a way to make money.