Good Odds

The odds are always against you when you gamble, which is an excellent argument for not gambling in the first place.  If you're gonna gamble anyway, then it pays to play at a casino that offers good odds.  That's one reason I chose Bovada as the advertiser.  Let me first tell you about the competition, though.

Many online casinos are stingy when setting the odds on their games.  They think they'll make more money by setting the games tighter, so the player has less chance of winning, but they're wrong.  When players lose at a tight casino too quickly, those players much less likely to return.  Contrast that with a casino with good odds: Players get to play longer, which is a good experience, so they're more likely to return and become long-term customers.

Bovada has always offered games with good odds, knowing that if your money lasts longer, you'll be a happier, loyal customer.  They've got:

  • Two blackjack games returning over 99.8%
  • Single-0 roulette
  • Full-pay Jacks or Better (99.54%)
  • Nine other video poker games returning over 99%

Bovada's not perfect, but at least they offer decent odds.

Try their blackjack for free.
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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.

How Las Vegas Nickels and Dimes You

Last update: December 2021

Vegas used to be famous for being generous with the freebies.  Not any more.  As revenues have been declining from fewer visitors, casinos have been looking for ways to squeeze more money out of each visitor—but that just means even fewer visitors, because no one likes to be nickeled and dimed.  Here are some recent ways that casinos and hotels are squeezing their guests, and probably shooting themselves in the foot by discouraging return trips.

Resort fees

Every strip hotel, and most of the ones downtown, charges a "Resort fee" of $19 to $45 per night, separate from the room charge.  They say the fee gets you things like WiFi and pool access, but that's not really true because you can't opt out of the fee and decline those services.  If everyone has to pay the fee (and they do), then there's no way to tie the fee to any amenity at the property.

Las Vegas Jaunt has a list of Vegas resort fees.

Paid parking

Casino hotels now typically charge for parking.  Even if you're a guest at the hotel.  Keep that in mind before you decide to rent a car.

Paid parking on the strip was debuted by MGM Resorts. (source)

As of Oct. 2021, free parking is still available on the Strip at:

Casino Royale • Circus Circus • Resorts World • Strat • Treasure Island • Tropicana • Venetian/Palazzo • Wynn/Encore

In-room fridge shenanigans

If you're used to having a mini fridge and microwave in your hotel room, you won't get that in Vegas.  They don't want you to feed yourself, they want you to spend your money at their pricey restaurants.  The hotel might have a fridge stocked with stuff you can buy, but don't plan on emptying it out to put your own stuff in it, because somehow the fridge senses if you've removed something and automatically charges you for it.  And if you avail yourself of their offerings, you could be paying up to $8 for a bottle of water.

Charging for early check-in

Standard check-in time at hotels across the U.S. is 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., though if your room is ready before then, most hotels are happy to let you check in early  But Vegas hotels increasingly hit you with a $25 charge if you want to check in early.  Not a good way to earn customer loyalty.

Policing the "free" drinks

Free drinks for gamblers has been a hallmark of Vegas for decades.  Play any game, and before long a cocktail waitress will come around to take your order.  (Standard tip is $1.)  You could play a penny slot, a penny at a time, slowly, and still drink for free.  (I know, I did that as a test.)  Well, some casinos are now experimenting with requiring a minimum amount of play to get the free drinks.  In those casinos a green light will come on when you've earned your drink, or the machine will spit out a drink voucher.  It's not widespread yet, but it could be.  It's a buzz-kill, for sure.

Surcharges at restaurants

Several restaurants have added B.S. fees, such as a "Concession and Franchise Fee", which they're not required to charge and which you get nothing of value for paying.  (More here, here, here, and here.)  Tip: Scrutinize your bill, and ask that any weird charges be removed.  They'll generally do it.

Utility surcharge

One hotel (Artisan) has sneakily added a $3.95 "Utility surcharge" to its bills.  What's next, CEO Bonus Surcharge? (more at Vital Vegas)

Ticket processing fees

Sometimes when you buy tickets online there's a "convenience fee" or "processing fee.  Well, the High Roller ferris wheel has taken that to a whole new level (no pun intended) (okay, maybe a little), by charging a processing fee when you buy your tickets IN PERSON! (Vital Vegas)

Triple-zero roulette and 6:5 blackjack

The casinos are tightening up the games, making it harder for players to win, and increasing the average loss per hour.  First they changed the payout on naturals on blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5, then they added a third green slot to the roulette wheel.  For blackjack, that makes it three times worse for the player, and for roulette, 50% worse.

3:2 blackjack and normal roulette are still available, but often only in the high limit rooms.  If you're not a high roller, skip the strip and head downtown or to a locals casino like Orleans or Gold Coast which still offer good games with low table minimums.

Making it hard to get your change from slot vouchers

At lots of Vegas casinos (notably Caesars properties), the kiosks will give you bills for your slot tickets, but for any remaining change, they spit out a receipt that you have to walk over to the cage to redeem.  This hassle means that customers wind up abandoning their vouchers, and—surprise!—the casino gets to keep the money from the uncashed vouchers.  Well, 25% of it; the other 75% goes to the State of Nevada.  Casinos still profited $3 million from this in fiscal 2021. (Vital Vegas, LV Advisor)


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 mean reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising 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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