Las Vegas may be the city where you can lose your shirt and plane ticket home at the roll of the dice, but it's also a city full of bargains and amazing freebies for savvy travelers willing to look in the right spots.
While there might not be such a thing in life as a free lunch, there are free shows, snacks and even a free chance at striking it rich.
In that spirit, we have put together a list of some of our favorite free activities in Las Vegas.
"There's more free stuff here than basically anyplace," said Anthony Curtis, publisher and owner of the discount tourist guide Las Vegas Advisor and one of the foremost experts on cheap Las Vegas. "We've been on the bandwagon for two decades that Vegas is the place to go for the cheapest vacations. The discounts on everything are just amazing."
Curtis notes that everything from meals to hotel rooms are subsidized by tourist gambling dollars. If you keep your gambling budget in check, everything else can be a steal.
The best example of that might be with the dining deals. Consider the $6.95 steak dinner at Ellis Island that includes a 10-ounce filet-cut sirloin, salad, garlic green beans, choice of potato, and a microbrewed beer. (Don't worry, we will get to the absolutely free items in a second.)
"Each casino needs to do something bigger and better than the last one. They tear one down, put a new one up. It has to have some type of attraction to get people to come to that casino," adds Anne Banas, executive editor of travel website SmarterTravel. "That's why you see so many of these free shows to lure people. Of course, you have to walk through the casino to get there."
To find the best deals, do some planning upfront. The biggest mistake people make when they get to Las Vegas, Curtis said, is that they haven't thought about what they are going to do.
"They get here and there's sensory overload from the ads, the billboards and all the things that are flashing at them. They don't know what to do," he said. "Once you get here, I would open everything, in terms of freebie magazines, things they put you in your room, things they want you to sign up for at the club booths. I would do all of those things. People tend to shy away from giving your name out. In Vegas it's the other way around. You want to give your name out."
Fountains of Bellagio: More than a thousand fountains at the Bellagio dance to music ranging from Pavarotti to Sinatra. Sold as the most ambitious, choreographically complex water feature ever conceived, this free show is sure to amaze you. Each performance is unique in its expression and interpretation and ranges from opera to classical to Broadway tunes. Depending on time of day, the show starts every 15 or 30 minutes in front of the casino.
"That fountain show at the Bellagio is just absolutely insane. It's gorgeous. I think it's one of the coolest things you can do in this city," Curtis said.
Weekly Football Contests: The M Resort offers a free contest for gamblers to try to pick the NFL teams will win each week. First prize each week is $5,000, and you don't have to risk a penny to take your shot. There is also a chance to win $150,000. The chances of winning are pretty slim, but hey, it's free. Coast Casinos also have a weekly football contest with $30,000 in prizes.