Cheap Drinking in Las Vegas: A Sports Bettor’s Guide to Free Booze in Sin City

Mar 08, 2019 9:41 AM EST
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Pictured: Free drink ticket from The Mirage sportsbook in Las Vegas.

  • Heading to Las Vegas? Along with sports betting, one of the many great features Sin City has to offer is cheap drinking.
  • This guide details eight easy ways to score free and cheap drinks on the Las Vegas strip.

I love Las Vegas. I know, it must come as a real shocker that someone who loves sports betting is also attracted to Sin City. While we live on the East Coast, my wife and I try to make a trip to the desert at least once per year to enjoy a couple days of gambling, adult beverages, food and entertainment.

But while it can be surprisingly cheap to score airfare and hotels for Vegas vacations, the real money is spent on the ground. Because of this, I’m often asked by friends and family for tips on how to drink on the cheap in Las Vegas.

So if you’re preparing to head to Vegas, or just curious on how to save money on beverages, here are eight tips to drink for less while enjoying everything the strip has to offer.

Please note, since most casual sports bettors stay on the strip, this guide is focused on those hotels and casinos, though most can still be applied to the rest of Las Vegas.

Shop the Best Hotel Deals

Everybody wants to know how to get free drinks at the sportsbook, while gambling at slots or tables games, from comps, etc., but experienced Las Vegas travelers know the quest for free booze starts before a trip is even booked.

Hotels are constantly competing to get your business, especially the big resorts on the Las Vegas strip, because if you’re staying there, you’re exponentially more likely to dump money into their casino, restaurants, spa, shows and whatever other amenities they offer.

And because of this, hotels are constantly offering promotions to convince you to stay with them over competitors. So, before you do anything else, sign up for the email lists for the major resorts on the strip, like MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, etc.

Prior to a recent trip, my wife and I, along with friends and family also joining us, nailed down our dates a good six months in advance so we had the luxury of taking our time to shop for the best hotel offers.

As part of the company’s Black Friday sale, MGM Resorts offered free food and beverage credits at its hotels with the promotion. By booking through that offer, we snagged a $160 credit to use throughout our stay at any bar or restaurant located in an MGM hotel or casino.

That’s $160 worth of free booze locked in more than three months before we even set foot in Las Vegas.

Sign Up for Your Hotel’s Players Club

This goes beyond just free drinks, but if you want free stuff through comps, be sure to sign up for your hotel’s players club. Signing up is free, and once you have your card, be sure to use it while gambling and even at many of your hotel’s shops and restaurants as they often earn you points toward comps, as well.

Here are some quick tips:

  • If you’re staying at an MGM, Caesars, etc. property, try to focus your gambling and spending in their group of hotels. The best way to earn the most points — and therefore the most comps — is to rack up as many as you can through one rewards program rather than spreading out your spending.
  • Always charge players club eligible purchases to your room.

Even if you’re not a high-roller earning traditional comps like free rooms, buffets, etc., you can still use all points earned to take money off your final hotel bill upon checkout.

And while those savings may not be directly put toward free booze, savings of any kind can make the money spent on alcohol seem more palatable.

Sportsbook Drink Tickets

When discussing free drinks and Las Vegas sports betting vacations, this is typically what comes to mind. Unfortunately, free drinks for simply hanging around at the sportsbook have gone the way of the dodo.

Now, you’ll be awarded tickets for one free drink depending on how much you wager. The minimum varies from casino to casino and typically falls between $50-$100 per drink ticket, but know those minimums aren’t set in stone.

You’ll be surprised to find out how simply being polite and charming goes a long way, especially if you continue to bet at the same sportsbook during your trip.

Throw your ticket writer a few bucks as a tip and all of a sudden you’ll be remembered as the nice person who tips during each visit the book, which is always a good thing when trying to score extra drink tickets.

Learn Pai Gow Poker 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely focused on sports betting, but let’s not kid ourselves. Many who enjoy betting on sports are also fond of other casino games, such as blackjack, poker, roulette, craps and more.

While those games are certainly fun and do come with free drinks while playing, the table game you need to learn is pai gow poker. It’s an incredibly easy game to play, especially if you already have a general understanding of poker.

I’m not going to get into the details of how to play because they’re easily found all over the Internet, but what makes pai gow poker so great is that you push quite frequently.

Lots of pushes mean you can play for a long time with little investment, which provides more time to rack up those free drinks.

In addition, pai gow poker is incredibly slow to play per hand compared to other table games, especially if the table is full. So grab a couple of buddies and load up the same table. The more people, the slower the game. And the slower the game, the longer your money lasts to earn free booze.

Whenever I’m getting ready to settle in for a few hours of pai gow (and free drinks), I always give the cocktail waitress a good tip right off the bat. I know, it may seem counterproductive to be spending more money when trying to minimize your drinking costs, but a nice upfront tip typically ensures you’ll have the waitress’ attention early and often throughout your session.

Think of it as investing in your long-term cheap drinking future.

Try Video Poker 

If you’re not sweating a bet on a game or sitting at a table, find a bar with a video poker machine — it won’t be hard — and ask the bartender for the rules regarding free drinks.

Video poker has one of the smallest house edges of all casino games and, just like pow gai pow poker, helps make a little money go a long way, which is ideal when trying to maximize complimentary drinks.

Personally, I don’t seek out video poker as I’m much more likely to be found in the sportsbook or playing table games, but this is my go-to cheap drinking strategy when traveling up and down the strip.

There’s just too much to see on the strip to stay in the same place for your entire trip, so after my bets are placed at the sportsbook for the day, we often venture out and explore.

But exploration often takes you away from many of the cheap drinking tips on this list. So once I’ve polished off my final walking beer and need to get off my feet for a few minutes, I turn to a bar with video poker to rest up and quench my thirst with a free beer before continuing the trek.

Take Advantage of Groupon

I’ve been going to Vegas consistently since I turned 21, but didn’t take advantage of the value of Groupon until recently. There are so many bars and restaurants along the strip that one close to you is bound to be offering some kind of deal on drinks.

So if you’re traveling the strip and find yourself with a hankering for beverages, load the Groupon app on your phone and search restaurants around you.

During a recent Vegas trip, we stumbled upon a Groupon deal that included all you can drink — beer and well drinks — for four hours at a bar on the strip for less than $40. That’s a huge savings and took all of 30 seconds to find using modern technology.

Visit the Gift Shops

This was a last-minute addition to this article because it just happened during my most recent trip. My wife and I headed to Vegas a night early to beat a winter storm that was forecasted to hit Boston right around the time of our original flight.

We ended up booking one night at Mandalay Bay to cover us that first night since the rest of our original hotel reservation didn’t start until the following day. After a fun late-night session of pai gow poker, we wanted to snag one final beverage before heading to bed.

At the closest bar, I ordered a Heineken bottle that ended up being $8 by itself. Honestly, that’s not extraordinary in Vegas — especially on the strip — but we can always do better.

The following morning, I was perusing the hotel gift shop and noticed their beer cooler offered 22-ounce beer cans, including Heineken, for the same $8 price.

Same price, but almost twice as much beer.

For the record, I’ve known about buying beer in Vegas gift shops for a very long time and have done it often enough through the years, but frankly never compared the prices to those at bars.

Plenty of bars offer happy hours and specials, so be sure to take a second and ask before you buy. It may save you more than you know in the long run.

Stash Booze in Your Room

There comes a point in most Vegas trips when you’re simply sick of gambling (for free booze) and can’t stomach paying the high prices at bars and restaurants, especially if your betting hasn’t exactly gone well.

For this scenario, don’t be too proud to have booze on-the-ready in your room. Hit a convenience or drug store on the strip — don’t worry, there are plenty — and grab whatever drink(s) you prefer. If your room has a fridge, stock it up!

If not, fill up your sink — or bathtub if you’re really getting after it — with ice and you’re all set. If you’re a sports bettor or simply a fan, there’s always time to kill in the sportsbook while sweating a game or simply rooting on your favorite team, but those free drink tickets can be used up quite quickly.

This is the perfect time to have cold beer in your room. Jump on the elevator, snag two beers and double-fist your way through whichever games you want to watch in the sportsbook. Sure, having to get up periodically to make hotel room runs can be annoying, but so is paying for overpriced beer while the rest of your spending money is tied up in a six-team, Hail Mary parlay.

And a final piece of advice before I leave you … please don’t bet parlays.

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