Best online casino for most U.S. players: Bovada

If you're in CT, DE, NJ, PA, or WV, online casinos are legal in your state, and you should play at a casino licensed there.

If you're in any other U.S. state, your best bet is Bovada, not because they're good, but because everything else is even worse.  I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where the RV salesman is telling Homer, "Simpson, you're never gonna own a finer RV.  And I don't mean that in a good way, I mean this is IT for you!"

THE GOOD ABOUT BOVADA

  1. Play the practice games without having to register an account.  Other casinos force you to register so they can market to you.  Bovada is the only U.S.-wide casino I know of that lets you play right away with no registration.  (They throw up a registration box, but you can cancel it and continue to the game.)  For example, here's the free-play blackjack.  And the games play right in your browser, so you don't have to download any special software.
  2. Consistent payouts.  Online gambling is mostly unregulated and if a casino refuses to pay your winnings you have little recourse.  But Bovada has always had a good reputation for paying out properly.

THE BAD ABOUT BOVADA

  1. Not licensed.  Because online gambling in most states isn't explicitly legal, no legitimate authority will license a U.S.-wide casino.  That means if you have a dispute, you have no recourse.
  2. Customer service is pretty pathetic.
  3. Phantom bets in live dealer games.  While I was watching (not playing) a live roulette game to record spin data for an article, Bovada claimed that I made two losing bets ($45 and $15) that I didn't actually make.  I complained about this, but they insisted I made those bets.  So, you probably want to steer clear of the live dealer games.

Visit Bovada


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.

Top ten things to do in Las Vegas

 Last update:  January 2022

If this list isn't enough for you, see my list of everything to do in Vegas.


Any casino

  1. Play one spin on Megabucks.  Megabucks has the largest jackpot of any slot machine in the world, with a minimum of $10 million, though it actually hit once for $40 million.  The reason it can pay out so much is that all the Megabucks machines in the entire state of Nevada are linked together, and a portion of the play on all those machines continually drives the jackpot ever higher.  One spin will set you back $3.  The odds are pretty long at 1 in 50 million, but that's six times better than the Megamillions or Powerball lotteries.  Careful, this machine sucks your money away quickly, which is why I recommend just a single spin.
  2. Try to win a million dollars by doubling a $5 bet eighteen times.  The best chance of winning $1 million in Vegas with  $5 bet is to bet $5 on "Player" in baccarat, and win 18 bets in a row, letting your winnings ride each time (betting $5, then $10, then $20, then $40...)  The odds of success are about 1 in 260,000.  Don't laugh, because the odds of winning that much with any other game or method are even longer.  If every visitor to Vegas tried my idea, someone would win the million every three days on average, and those who lost would be out only $5. (more...)

On the strip

  1. See a show.  There are probably a hundred to choose from.  It's hard to recommend just one, but I think Mystère by Cirque du Soleil is probably the best bang for the buck.  Tickets from the website are $75, and here are some sources for potentially cheaper tickets.
  2. Strat Tower.  The best view of Vegas.  Visit the observation lounge, and consider trying one or more of the terrifying thrill rides at the top.  Runner-up:  The High Roller ferris wheel at Linq.
  3. Ride a zipline.  There are three to choose from:
    1. FlyLinq:  The longest at 1121 feet, starting at a tower on the Strip, and ending at the High Roller ferris wheel. ($35+ • more)
    2. Voodoo: the tallest (500 feet high) in Vegas, going between the two towers of the Rio.  This one is closer to a ride than a traditional zipline, since you sit in a two-person car.  800-feet ride, 33 mph top speed, in one minute and ten seconds. ($28+ • more)
    3. Slotzilla:  Soar above all the tourists downtown, right under the Via Vision video canopy.  800 feet up to 35 mph.  ($39+ • more)
  4. Bellagio lobby & conservatory.  See the $10 million, 2100 square foot glass sculpture on the ceiling of the lobby, featuring 2000 hand-blown blossoms that weigh about 40,000 pounds, supported by a 10,000-pound steel armature, all by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.  Every day it takes 27 person-hours to clean.  While there, also check out the 14,000 square foot conservatory garden, a dazzling mix of plants, architecture, and lights, which changes with the season.
  5. Bellagio Water Fountains.  Amazing choreographed water fountains, set to popular music, right in front of the Bellagio hotel.  The Las Vegas Sun says it cost $40 million to build.  Shows begin at Noon on the weekends and 3:00pm M-F, running every half hour until 8:00pm, and then every 15 minutes through midnight.
  6. Pinball "Museum". It's both a museum and an arcade, since you can actually play the games.  Play is only 25-50¢ per game, and admission is free to just see the games, and you'll want to see the games.  It's the largest collection of pinball in the world, with over 400 machines (including a handful of classic video games).  Check out the 3D tour on their website. 4925 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Downtown

  1. Viva Vision.  A massive overhead canopy is the world's largest video screen, over four football fields long, and filled with nearly 50 million LED lights.  At night it comes to life, showing amazing animations choreographed to popular music.  In the early 90s the megaresorts that had been appearing on the strip were sucking up tourist attention and nearly put the downtown casinos out of business, so the downtown casinos banded together to finance a spectacle to lure visitors to the downtown area.  Before settling on the video screen, ideas such as a system of canals were floated (no pun intended) (okay, maybe a little).  An upgrade to the resolution in 2004 (which I witnessed) took the video quality from cheesy to damn impressive, and it was upgraded again in 2019, quadrupling the resolution and making it seven times brighter.  It's easy to find: just go to Fremont Street and look up.  If you're on the Strip just hop on the Deuce bus which goes straight to Fremont.  Note, the screen is often mistakenly called the "Fremont Street Experience"; technically, the FSE is the big pedestrian mall where the screen is located, and the screen itself is called Viva Vision.  Shows are every hour on the hour, from 6:00 pm until 2:00 am.  (Visit the official website.)

Elsewhere

  1. Area 15.  Massive, freaky, indoor entertainment and art complex.  Offerings include:
    1. Emporium video+game arcade & bar (21+)
    2. Oddwood bar with huge digital maple tree
    3. Brainstorm (creates art from your brainwaves on a huge LCD screen) ($5)
    4. Wacky retail shops (including a unique toy store)
    5. Particle Quest (augmented reality) ($8)
    6. "Fly like a bird" VR experience ($14)
    7. Sound & light show ($17)
    8. Combo zip line/ roller coaster ($18)
    9. Psychedelic art funhouse ($18)
    10. VR golf simulator ($25)
    11. Axe throwing ($35)
    12. The jaw-dropping Omega Mart ($45)
    13. "Free roam" VR ($55)
    14. Full-body VR gaming ($100)


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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.

You can play Bovada's games (below) 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 the main reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  (When you see the registration box, you can cancel it and proceed to the game without registering.)

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