Getting Free Food In Las Vegas

How to get a free meal in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is one of the United States' most popular tourist attractions. Some come to gamble, of course. Others come to see all of the shows and entertainers or to try a little celebrity-spotting. And still others come, lured by the elusive promise of a free lunch (or breakfast, or dinner). Is it true, though? Can you really eat for free in Las Vegas?

Well, yes and no. You can get free food and drinks, but not without spending money on other things. In the first place, unless you happen to live there, you will have had to shell out for the plane/train/bus ticket to get there, or paid a small fortune at the gas pump. You will also have to pay for a hotel room, and of course in any popular vacation spot those don't come cheap. But once you've spent that kind of money, it is possible to save a little on the cost of your meals.

First of all, before you go to Vegas, check out tour packages. Especially if you live in one of the western states - when I lived in Denver, the travel section of the Sunday paper always had ads from all kinds of budget tour companies offering one-day bus trips to Vegas, the price of which included not only a certain number of chips from a given casino but also meal vouchers at that same casino. Even if you choose not to go the tour route, your hotel might also have an arrangement with a particular casino or casinos (as you know, it's in their best interests to lure you in there any way they can, on the theory that you might stick around long enough to lose a chunk of cash). Ask at the desk when you check in for a "fun book" - these books have coupons for free or discounted meals at selected casinos. If your hotel doesn't offer these, call around to other hotels or casinos to see if they have any to give away.

If you do decide to play at a particular casino, go to the promotions booth right away and ask for a player's card application. Fill the application out and hand it in right away, so as soon as you start playing you'll start earning points that can later be redeemed for free meals and drinks. Whenever you play at a table game, present the card to the dealer, and when you play at a machine be sure to scan it in the card reader. After you have been playing for about an hour, check with the pit boss or back at the promotions booth to see if you have earned enough for a meal, then request a comp at your desired casino restaurant. Other "comps", or complimentary (i.e. free) items you can earn for casino play include hotel rooms, tickets to shows, or limousine transportation.

But what if you don't intend to spend a lot of money on casino play? Can you still score a meal deal? It varies, depending on the season, or the financial health of any particular casino. (Just like airline fares, casino promos go up and down depending on how much they need to fill seats.) One thing you could try is to check the Las Vegas Advisor, a paper which has listings of all the hot deals available at casinos - who's offering cheap or two-for-one drinks, meals, or even free casino play (which you can then use, if you get a player's card, to earn free food). And if you are dining with children, there are a number of buffets offering reduced-price or even free meals to younger customers (accompanied by a paying adult, of course).

So, can you get by in Las Vegas subsisting on free food alone? And is it really the budget traveler's mecca? No, of course not. You need to spend money in order to save money here, and as with any tourist trap, they'll get you in the wallet coming or going. But if you want to go to Vegas anyway, just to check things out, you might as well take advantage of any freebies (or at least half-price-bees) that come your way. Good luck and bon appetite!

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