On my first trip to Las Vegas in 1997, I remember asking the pit boss at Fitzgeralds a rather blunt question: “Can we get comped?” It was around 2 a.m. and my former college housemates and I had gotten wiped out at the blackjack table. One of my friends had lost a serious chunk of change—enough, in fact, to prompt the pit boss to whisper to him, “I’d quit now.” My friend agreed with her. The boss then provided us a complimentary free dinner, which at that hour meant the one place open. It didn’t matter how exhausted we all were, I told my crew we had to eat free at least once. I made everyone order shrimp cocktail despite their lack of appetite (more for me) and for the main course I requested the “Gentlemen’s Cut” of prime rib. That was a great comp, though it pales next to Terrance Watanabe, who blew roughly $127 million at various Harrah’s casinos. Needless to say, his comps were enormous (private plane, fishing trip to Alaska, his personal preference for vodka, gourmet meals, the Hangover suite).
For journalists, however, getting comped can be a bit awkward—here’s a free trip so you can say nice things about us. I elaborate on this in the current issue of The Weekly Standard.