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A high roller is someone who wagers large amounts of money on casino games. They are commonly referred to as a "whale" within the industry. The "whale" nickname suggests that the player wagers lots of money and may spend lavishly or buy expensive things impulsively. Casinos love high rollers because they generally gamble aggressively, bring an audience, spend lots of money on other things at a casino property, and return to the casino if they felt taken care of.
High rollers will generally bring over $50,000 to a table at a land-based casino. However, it is common to see hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions of dollars at a single table. In an online casino, a high roller poker tournament for example might have a buy-in of $10,000.
High rollers traditionally spend their time at land-based casinos because they are offered free hotel suites, free food and beverages, have access to concierge services, and are looking for additional entertainment away from the casino games. Some high rollers are offered complimentary limousine services, concert and event tickets, and even celebrity meet and greets. Land-based casinos must have significant financial resources to accommodate high rollers because of the gambling variance at high values. It's not unusual to have swings up and down into the millions of dollars.
Online casinos are at a slight disadvantage for offering bonuses to super high rollers. They obviously do not have a resort with which they can grant complimentary suites and meals from. However, online casinos can offer immediate deposit bonuses that land-based casinos cannot. For some high rollers, the immediate credit bonus in their account to play games can be more appealing than a free night in a hotel. That said, online casinos have come a long way in terms of offering high rollers opportunities and incentives to play at their establishments.
Nowadays, high rollers can earn refunds on the rake they pay at table and card games if they are bringing a certain amount of money to the online casino. Casinos are also offering percentage refunds on any high roller losses, depending on the amount being wagered. This is generally exclusive to online casinos because they can track it and refund it immediately. High rollers also have the opportunity to be awarded lavish gifts and prizes for redeeming VIP points through a casino's rewards program. Many of the bigger and more expensive gifts like expensive cars, boats, and vacations are only available to high rollers.