The House Doesn’t Always Win

There are many ways to enjoy the famous casino town, but there is only one way to do it on a budget. Sarah Loughlin visits Las Vegas to try her luck living on £10 a day.

We had been traveling up the west coast of America for over a month with not a care in the world. Spending the last of our student loans on beer and pizza slices. After paying for a hotel, and a trip to the Grand Canyon I had calculated we had $16 a day to last us our stay in Vegas. This roughly equates to £10, not a lot to feed yourself and provide entertainment. When researching Vegas it was largely $50 all you can eat buffets and $100 tickets to a musical. I was fairly convinced not only would we starve to death, but we would also have to stay in our $7 per night hotel room for the entirety of our visit. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Of all the places we visited on our trip, we lived like kings in Vegas!  Here are my five top tips for living it up on a budget…

1.       Free drinks – Whether it’s your morning OJ or your 6pm sun-downers. If you are playing in a casino it’s free. Sit down at one of the many 1¢ slot machines and play away while getting the attention of one of the waitresses; you never know you could end up winning yourself some money while you wait for your mid-afternoon coffee!  Always carry an ID with you and remember to tip your waitress, $1 will do it.

2.       Free gambling – If you sign up as a casino member they give you free money! If it is your first time in Vegas you will want to see everything, including the many casinos that line the world famous ‘Strip’. Every time you go to a new casino find the membership desk and sign up, most casinos will give you a membership card with pre-loaded money on it. This can be anything from $5 – $20 – you can’t withdraw it as cash, but once you have played it all any money you win is yours! One evening I came out of the Cosmopolitan after several glasses of prosecco with $10 more than I started with!

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3.       Free entertainment – There is so much to see in Vegas that is completely FREE! For example the light show in Fremont Street downtown and the Bellagio Fountains. The thing I enjoyed most about Vegas was walking around soaking up the atmosphere; you will be totally taken aback by the grandiose scale of everything. Buildings not to miss include: a huge pyramid (Luxor Hotel and Casino), a life size castle (Excalibur Hotel and Casino), and the indoor canals with actual gondolas on them (The Venetian Hotel and Casino).

4.       Free food (almost!) – Keep an eye out for food deals and ‘happy hour’ food offers, I can’t tell you the amount of food we found for $1, burritos, tacos, pizza slices, it was incredible!

5.       Free nightlife (one for the ladies!) – As a group of two girls we were given free entry to most of the clubs – but it was midweek – so if you are going at the weekend don’t rely on it. One of the best nights we had started out as a quiet drink at some penny slots, until one of the promoters gave us a flyer for free entry to the nightclub and free Champagne. We sipped bubbly until midnight when the free booze ran out, had a few cocktails at the penny slots, and then went back in at about 1.30am when it got busy to dance the night away!Vegas, Las Vegas, travel, budget travel, backpacking las vegas, gambling, entertainment, cheap vegas

Stay at the AAE Las Vegas Palace Station Casino $7 per person per night based on two people sharing. Free Airport Shuttle. Free Shuttle to the Strip (only until 11pm – taxi’s are about $10 to get back if you don’t want to stay out all night!). We had a huge (by European standards!) room with a double bed each. For the price we paid I expected to come out with bedbugs, but it was really clean. The pool was nothing special, but ideal for a chilled out day reading your book/ sleeping off your hangover.



Published by Sarah Tayler

British freelance writer based in Gold Coast, Australia.

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