Reason I like Bovada #4:

It's fair and safe

The best way to avoid losing money by gambling is to not gamble in the first place.  That goes double online, because online gambling is mostly unregulated in the U.S.  That means the casinos serving the whole U.S. don't answer to anyone.  If you have a problem with a casino (like they won't pay you), then you're usually out of luck.  I can't count how many players have written to ask me for help because they didn't get paid by some other casino.  (Not that I helped them, it's not what I do—if a dodgy casino won't pay you then you're on your own.)

So if you're intent on gambling online, then the #1 most important thing is to pick a good casino.  The good ones know they make more money with fair games and consistent payouts than the dodgy casinos, because fair play means repeat customers and good word-of-mouth referrals.  It's no coincidence that the most successful online casinos are the ones that focus on their players.

Many casinos try to find excuses to not pay winning players, especially players who have won big.  Outright cheating (rigged games) is pretty rare, but it happens.  Either way, if you have a problem with most U.S.-facing online casinos, you're usually out of luck.

This is another reason why Bovada is the only online casino I've accepted advertising from for over 15 years.  They use industry-standard software, it's absolutely fair, and players get their payouts, consistently.  I have a choice in whom I advertise, so I purposefully picked a casino with a good reputation where I'm confident my readers will have a good experience.

To be clear, Bovada's not perfect.  Once they got duped by a bad vendor (Betsoft) who provided progressive slots whose jackpots weren't winnable.  When I discovered this I alerted Bovada, and they pulled all the Betsoft games from the site, but I thought they were slow to do so and didn't offer proper restitution to affected players. (more on this)  Still, even with this incident, their overall history is better than most; as just one example, there are many other casinos still offering Betsoft's questionable games.

Another good thing about Bovada is that they allow me to mediate if one of my readers clicks over to them, plays the games, and has a problem they can't get Bovada to resolve.  My time is valuable and I wouldn't offer that service if I had to do it very often.  I think I've gotten maybe one or two inquiries from affected players in the 15+ years I've been advertising Bovada.

Bottom line: I'm confident that Bovada is fair and reasonably safe.  You might have a good experience with another casino...and you might not.  I trust Bovada, and that's why I picked them.

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Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

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Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

Las Vegas Hotel Deals

Last update: August, 2018.

Stay for free on your next visit

Here's our best tip for Las Vegas hotels for cheap: Casinos will send you offers for free or deeply discounted rooms for your next visit if you simply sign up for a free Player's Card and use it a little when you're playing slots or table games. Sometimes they'll make these offers even if you never use the card at all. As I write this I'm staying for three nights for free, on a weekend, at a casino that I think I played maybe an hour or two of blackjack in two years ago. Sign up for a Player's Card at every casino you visit, whether you're staying there or not, and whether you expect to gamble there or not. If you do gamble, either table games or slots, be sure to use the card.

This doesn't help you for the visit you're about to make, but it's the #1 way to get a great deal on your next visit.

Timing is Everything

Weekday vs. Weekend. Friday/Saturday rates are often two and a half times as much as Sunday-thru-Thursday rates! If you're able to stay between Sunday through Thursday, by all means do so.  Not only will you save on your room, but you'll also find lower limits on table games, and the casinos and restaurants won't be as crowded so you'll be able to enjoy yourself more.

Cheap Times of the Year.  Whenever business is slow, hotels drop the rates to induce more business.  These are the best times of the year to score deals:

  • December before Christmas. Rooms at some classy hotels go for as little as $20, even on weekends!
  • July & August.  It's 100 degrees outside, so that discourages some tourists.

Expensive Times of the Year.

  • Major holidays, like Memorial Day (late May), July 4th, Labor Day (early Sept.), and New Year's Eve.
  • Superbowl Sunday (usually the whole weekend of the Sunday in February)
  • Convention times (CES in early January, and Comdex in mid-November)
Let me give you an example:  In January on the Wednesday before CES in 2011, the cheapest hotel on the Strip for Thursday night was $439.  For a Thursday!  Granted, it was a suite (because that's all they had left), but the point is, when there's a big convention and the Strip gets close to sold out, prices soar.  Book ahead.

Be aware of Resort Fees

Nearly every hotel/casino in Vegas charges a bullshit "resort fee" of $15-40 per night, that's separate from the room rate.  Also, you usually won't see that listed in the online prices.  There are a few ways around the resort fee:

  • Comps.  If you gamble, the casino might waive the resort fee if you ask.  See my comps page for more.
  • Bribes.  When you check in, sandwich a $20 bill between your ID and your credit card and ask if it's possible to waive the resort fee.  Instead, you could ask if there are any complimentary room upgrades available, which you might enjoy more than having your resort fee waived.  This bribery works at most strip hotels, most of the time.  I've done it successfully myself.
  • Stay elsewhere.
  •   Hotels without an attached casino rarely charge resort fees.  There's also Airbnb.

Location matters

The Strip -- Strip hotels are generally the most expensive.  On the strip, Stratosphere, NY NY, and Excalibur often have the lowest prices.  Circus Circus is just as cheap but dumpier and smokier.

Downtown -- Downtown digs are generally cheaper than the Strip, and downtown is only 1.5 miles from the Strip (and there's a bus that runs 24/7), so you'll never be far from the action.

Off-Strip. There are many hotel-casinos near the strip but not quite on it.  See my list of near-strip casinos.

Get a room upgrade for $20

A little-known tip is that you can usually get a nice room upgrade by tipping $20 to the front desk. Put the $20 between your ID and your credit card, then casually ask if there are any complimentary room upgrades available.  Most front desk staff will give the $20 back if they can't help you. More about this at


Vegas Hotel Search Engines

Some of these let you search for either strip-only or downtown-only.

See my Vegas map so you can see where these hotels are.


Cheap & Sleazy for as little as $29/night

There are a bunch of motels that advertise $29/night Sunday through Thursday, on Las Vegas Blvd. on the one-mile stretch between the Strip and downtown, and also on Fremont St. downtown, west of Las Vegas Blvd.  Of course their weekend rates are higher, but still less than what you'd find at any hotel-casino.

Lots of the motels won't accept reservations, and they're not listed in the online search engines anyway—it's walk-in only.  If you haven't gotten a room before you arrive in Vegas you can be fairly certain that you can get one by checking the motels in the areas mentioned above. Once during the Superbowl the only rooms in Vegas showing online were $175+ per night, but downtown motels still had clean rooms for $45/night (and I got one).


Death of the $16 room at the Western

For years, my favorite deal was the $16 room at The Western, the sleaziest and most dangerous casino in all of Vegas.  I took advantage of a $16 room there as late as 2001.  It was $16 even on the weekends!  However, by 2007 the price had gone up to $35/night weekday and $55/night weekends, and then the whole place went out of business not long after that.

I was tipped off to the Western before my first Vegas trip by reading the hilarious story Las Vegas on $19 a day.  Here's the hilarity that ensued when I tried to make a reservation by phone.

The Gold Spike Diner

The Gold Spike was an ultra-cheap hotel/casino which sadly closed in 2013.  The table maximum was an astounding $50, and the Wizard and I once competed to see which of us could get kicked out first for counting cards.  Anyway, a friend relayed this story about the place to me:

I used to occasionally stay at the Gold Spike when the rooms were still $22, even on weekends.  The rooms are better than you might expect after seeing the casino.  With your $22 room you also got a coupon good for a free breakfast at the snack bar.  Unfortunately, the snack bar is located in the casino.  My first time there, I looked over the snack bar and decided that I'd pass on the free breakfast.

As I walked out the door, I was accosted by a panhandler. In a moment of generosity (unusual for me), I gave him my breakfast coupon.  He examined it closely, and then handed it back to me and said, "Thanks, man, but I ain't *that* hungry."

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

I like Bovada's practice games the best, because you can play right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's why Bovada is the only online casino that gets space on my site.  I hope other casinos will eventually start treating their visitors like human beings rather than walking wallets, but until they do, there's Bovada.  One click and you're in.

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