Will MGM Resorts Breathe New “M” Life Into The Borgata’s Reward Program?

Borgata NJ casino M life
Now that MGM Resorts International has completed its acquisition of the Borgata, changes are afoot at Atlantic City’s crown jewel.

Perhaps the most noticeable change — at least from a player’s perspective — will be the elimination of Borgata’s loyalty scheme in favor of the M life Rewards program.

Is the transition, which is slated for Summer 2017, cause for panic, jubilation, or will gambling at the Borgata be business as usual?

More tiers, but structurally similar

Players who preference a straightforward loyalty program may be initially taken aback by MGM’s multi-faceted approach to player rewards.

In a word, M life is a rather complicated rewards scheme. But that’s not to say it’s fundamentally any different than programs regular gamblers have become accustomed to.

In fact, it bears a strong similarities to Caesars’ Total Rewards, which many NJ online casino and land-based players are comfortable with.

Tier credits

Like the current “Label” program at the Borgata, M life Rewards consists of tiers; only instead of three (Red Label, Black Label, and Titanium) there are five tiers.

Those tiers, and their Tier Credit requirements are:

  • Sapphire: Everyone starts here
  • Pearl: 25,000 Tier Credits
  • Gold: 75,000 Tier Credits
  • Platinum: 200,000 Tier Credits
  • Noir: By invite only, although anecdotal evidence suggests that players will need to accumulate somewhere in the vicinity of 500,000 TCs to receive an invite

M life card holders earn Tier Credits in much the same fashion that they do at other casino properties, by wagering money on slots, video poker, and table games.

However, as an added perk, M life awards players Tier Credits for non-gaming purchases as well, at a rate of 25 Tier Credits per $1 spent.

Points system

There is also a points system, which is used exclusively to determine how much free play and comps players receive based on their play. The earn rates run parallel to TC rates, only difference is that non-gaming purchases do not grant points.

The rates are as follows:

  • 1 point per every $3 bet on slots
  • 1 point per every $10 bet at most video poker
  • Approximately 300 points per hour wagering $25 a hand at table games

A point is worth $0.01 in free play and comps, which works out to ~0.33 percent cashback rate on slots, and 0.1 percent on video poker.

Assuming somewhere in the vicinity of 60 hands an hour at table games, the cashback rate is approximately 0.2 percent.

What’s more, is that M life players receive an earn rate multiplier based on their tier, ranging from 10 percent at the Pearl level, up to 40 percent at Noir.

Which casino program offers the better cashback deal?

It’s close, but the edge seems to go to the current scheme at the Borgata, especially for casual players.

According to vpfree2, video poker players currently earn roughly 0.1 percent cashback as free play, and 0.2 percent in comps.

That means once the changeover occurs, entry level (Sapphire) players will earn the same free play they do now, but only half the comps.

The script flips somewhat for higher rollers, as Borgata does not reward its Black Label and Titanium with better earn rates. Thus, M life card holders who move up at least one tier will earn more free play than they do presently, but still less comps (although the gap will be smaller).

Note: We were unable to secure concrete earn rates for slot players, but the “best guess” is somewhere around 0.35 percent cashback as free play, and 0.7 percent as comps. That’s roughly the same slots vs. video poker multiplier M life employs. 

M life benchmarks harder to hit

The current loyalty program at the Borgata also gets the edge with regards to how much play is required to become a VIP.

Currently, Red Label players must earn $1,000 in comps to receive a Black Label. That’s the equivalent of $500,000 coin-in on video poker machines, and just under $150,000 (est.) at slots.

From the looks of it Black Label is about the equivalent of M life Gold — Black Label players can even trade their card for M life Gold once the transition goes live.

In order to hit Gold, players will have to run through $750,000 at video poker, or $225,000 at slots — which is about 50 percent more play than to earn a Black Label card.

To reach Platinum, those figures become $2 million coin-in on vp, and $600,000 on slots.

Presently, in order to earn the much sought-after Titanium Card, players will have to hit the Black Label benchmark ten-times over ($5 million on vp, $1.5 million on slots). We estimate that in order to receive a Noir invite, M life players will have to run through about the same amounts, possibly more.

Score another point for the Labels program at the Borgata.

M life perks tough to beat

Borgata Black Label holders receive myriad benefits, ranging from free parking, to casino-wide discounts, and invites to exclusive parties.

MGM promises that players will still be eligible for all of these benefits after the transition occurs.

However, M life just brings so much more to the table with regards to player perks — at least it does at its Las Vegas and Maryland locations.

Just how many of these fringe benefits will be instituted at the Borgata remains something of an open question, but we suspect or know the following:

  • Players will be able to use their M life card at any MGM Resorts destination, as opposed to the current system, where the card is only good at the Borgata.
  • Gamblers will be eligible for M life Moments at select casino resorts. The possibility exists for Borgata exclusive Moments to be added.
  • Greater discounts, up to 40 percent, may be available on spa, shopping, and entertainment.

The number and monetary value of these extras will ultimately determine whether Borgata players will generate more value under the MGM umbrella than they do currently.

But even in a worst case scenario, the transition to M life should prove only a modest downgrade.

Which NJ online casino has the best reward program?

When NJ online gambling first launched in 2013, the industry’s loyalty schemes were but a shadow of those found at the Borgata and other Atlantic City casinos. That is, if they existed at all.

But since, the majority of online operators have adopted reward programs that borrow heavily from the best the land-based industry has on offer.

While Betfair Casino, Golden Nugget Casino, and Resorts Casino all offer standout programs, it’s industry newcomer Play SugarHouse that takes the prize for most innovative and lucrative loyalty scheme.

Highlight of the program include:

  • Upon reaching a new loyalty tier (Play SugarHouse has 10 plus an exclusive invite-only tier) players will win wheel spins that award players a variable bonus. Most of the time, players will win back 10 percent of their theoretical loss, but sometimes more.
  • On top of that, Tier 2 and above players win King Cash scratch cards — with the number and monetary values dependent on their tier. On balance, we found these even more lucrative than the wheel spins.
  • Every time a player jumps up a tier, they unlock more rewards — without exception. Hit Tier 3, and receive special offers from SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. Reach Tier 7, and open up a special VIP calendar, high stakes bingo events, and VIP birthday gifts. The list goes on.

Play SugarHouse is also known to throw a bevy of spot bonuses at their loyal patrons, that aren’t listed on the loyalty scheme’s comp sheet.

The last differentiating factor of this value-rich program is that participation is fun; it more closely resembles loyalty programs found on social casino app than a real-money operation.

Suddenly, it’s land-based operators that may want to take a page out of an online site’s playbook.

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Robert DellaFave

About

Robert is a game designer and avid poker player. He is a contributor to numerous online publications focused on legal online gambling sites in New Jersey. He also writes about the legal US online poker market.