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It's Free, and It's Usually Crap

So you're headed to Vegas, and you want to come home with your suticase full of Christmas gifts . Wonderful gifts like free decks of cards, coffee mugs and slot card keychains. What six-year-old's eyes don't light up when he opens up a half-used coupon book? Here are the things you need to do:

Visit the visitor's centers in town and pick up all the free magazines (at the airport, in mediocre hotels' lobbies, at the rental car place). These are going to have coupons for free stuff like decks of cards, free hot dogs, free slot play and occasionally a free kidney from the local hospital.

Next, join the slot clubs wherever you go. When you sign up for them you often get a bungee slot club keychain, sometimes you get a gift, sometimes free slot play and you also get on their mailing lists for future room discounts or other offers. And whenever you sign up for a slot club, also ask if they have a funbook. That's a coupon book that may have more freebies or some free slot play or matchplays for the table games.

Okay, on to the free stuff:


Ellis Island - Well, it's a block off the Strip, but they give new slot signups a free deck of cards. They also give you a ton of slot club points, which are worthless unless you earn another ton. The deck of cards? Yours to keep. That's gifts for 52 orphans in every deck!

Harrah's - Well, it's not crap you can touch, but it's a free ride. Harrah's runs a free shuttle over to the Rio every twenty minutes or so, up until 1 a.m. It's a great way to get over there from the Strip, plus you never know who'll you'll meet on the bus. Maybe us! You'll know you did if someone hits you up for your loose change.

Slots-a-Fun - Next to Circus Circus, this small, crowded place usually offers something free like a hot dog, donuts for slot players in the morning, or a free gift like a deck of cards with a coupon found in the free magazines.

Tropicana - Out in front, the Tropicana often hasa giant slot machine. We know what giant slot machines mean--giant winning! On this one you get to pull the handle for free, and there is a marginal chance that they'll give you something free - like tickets to see the afternoon magic show, or tickets to see Folies Bergere, their Vegas-style showgirl revue.


Binions - You can get a free photo with their million-dollar display right there in the casino. It's a real million bucks, made of $100 bills encased in Lucite. They don't let you touch it, or take a picture of yourself with it (they do it for you). And, as we discovered, they definitely don't let you use it at the craps table. Still, the free photo is a nice memento, and if they hand you a nice sheet of coupons, all the better.

El Cortez - When you sign up for a slot club card, you get a free keychain . Just go to the slot club booth next to the keno area. They used to let you get as many as you wanted, but now you're limited to one keychain when you sign up for the club.

La Bayou and Mermaids - These two slots-only grind joints on the Fremont Street Experience are all dressed up like a swamp and an undersea prom theme. Out front, they hand out free beads to anyone who asks. Go for the beads, but then get away from their tight slots and gimmicks fast.

Plaza - If you give them your e-mail address at the slot booth, they'll give you a small gift. Don't think that great things come in small packages. in this case, small junk comes in a small package. But it's free!


Longhorn - When we signed up for our slot club cards at this Boulder Highway joint (which was necessary to redeem coupons) they gave us free cookies. We don't know why, but we were thrilled because we were practically passing out fromhunger at the time. Now, maybe they don't give these to everyone and maybe they just had a stale batch they needed to get rid of. Or maybe somehting even better awaits you.

M Resort - Way south of Vegas, the M has a nice buffet, fancy rooms and, we hear, free glasses or other goodies for anyone who joins the slot club. Either pack them carefully in your luggage or smash them in a parking garage. Your choice.

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