A method for providing incentive to players of networked slot machines includes a card reader associated with each machine and a card associated with each player. A player account accessible by a host computer on the network is created which associates the player's card with the account. A predetermined credit is applied to the player's account. In a complementary incentive, credit from the player's account is applied to the coin-in meter of a slot machine responsive to insertion of the player card into a card reader associated with the machine. In a matching incentive also implemented by the present invention, each time the player inserts a coin into the slot machine, an equal credit is debited from the player's account and applied to the coin-in meter of the machine. In both cases, the credit can only be used by the player to play the machines and cannot be cashed out by the player.