free-play, casino marketing, social inequity theory, force of habit, loyalty behavior


Gaming and Casino Operations Management

Document Type

Original Research Article


Performance data from a tribal casino operating in the Western United States indicated a general insensitivity to free-play (FP) offer reductions. This finding addresses considerable industry-wide concerns regarding the potential for negative customer reactions to conspicuous offer reductions. Further, FP campaigns are costly annual investments representing the lion’s share of casino marketing budgets in many jurisdictions. A within-subjects design featured the random assignment of 100 loyalty program members from a common offer tier to each of four groups, with the experimental groups receiving different yet substantial reductions in FP during the post-demotion period. The results demonstrated a lack of significant differences in gaming spend and visitation, across the pre- and post-demotion periods. Our findings generally failed to indicate support for social inequity theory, aligning more with the literature on force-of-habit behavior. Additionally, the growing body of FP research was meaningfully extended.

Funding Sources

This work was supported by a research grant from the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Grant funding was also received from the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming. These funding sources had no involvement in any aspect of this research.

Competing Interests

The authors have not received funding from any competing interests.