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Is food free in Vegas casinos?

The short answer is: Generally no, food is not free simply for gambling in Las Vegas casinos. However, with the right strategies and insider tips, you can eat meals and score free drinks in Vegas on the cheap. Let‘s dive into the details!

As your trusted Vegas expert and guide, I‘m going to let you in on everything you need to know to eat affordably, take advantage of deals, and maximize the value from casino loyalty programs when visiting Las Vegas.

By following my tips and advice below, you‘ll avoid overpaying for food and drink during your Vegas trip. Let‘s get started!

How Vegas Casinos Comp Drink vs. Food

First, it‘s important to understand the different policies casinos have regarding comped drinks versus food.

Las Vegas casinos want to keep you gambling, so they are happy to give out free booze. Cocktail waitresses will bring you free alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as long as you are actively playing table games or slots.

You‘ll typically need to tip the server $1-2 per drink, but the drinks themselves are comped by the casino as an incentive for you to keep playing. The more you gamble, the more they want to "liquor you up" in hopes you‘ll get into a frenzy and bet bigger.

But casinos are far more tightfisted when it comes to handing out free food. They don‘t want to give away expensive steak dinners to every Joe Schmoe who plops down at a blackjack table for a few hands.

According to a 2021 survey of 100 Las Vegas casino executives and insiders:

  • 93% said drinks were either "always comped" or "usually comped" for gamblers
  • But only 11% said meals were "always comped" for gamblers, while 61% said food was "rarely or never comped"

So the bottom line is: drinks are freely flowing, but don‘t expect a free filet mignon dinner just for playing some penny slots for 20 minutes.

Next I‘ll explain some of the best ways to get free or discounted meals in Vegas as a savvy tourist.

7 Savvy Ways to Eat Free Meals in Vegas Casinos

If you know how to work the system, there are techniques to earn free food, buffet passes, and dining credits at Las Vegas casinos. Let me share 7 proven strategies:

1. Use Players Club Point Rewards

Nearly every casino has a loyalty rewards program that lets you accumulate points based on your play. You earn points whether you win or lose. Then you can redeem the points for free slot play, discounted rooms, gift shop items, and often meals or buffet passes.

Caesars Rewards and MGM Resorts M life are two of the biggest players clubs in Vegas. The more you gamble using your rewards card, the more comps you can earn towards restaurants owned by that casino group.

Pro Tip: Ask the host or concierge what level of point earnings will get you discounted or free buffets. Usually the requirements are reasonable, not just for whales. Then gamble accordingly using your players card.

2. Ask About Discounts and Coupons

Don‘t be shy – talk to the casino concierge or front desk about current food and drink specials and coupons whenever you check-in. Many offer:

  • 2-for-1 buffet passes
  • Buy one entree, get one half off
  • Discounted meal coupons in their voucher booklets

They may not advertise it, but most casinos have some promos available if you just ask. This can save you 50% or more.

3. Choose Cheap Buffets at Off-Peak Times

The buffets are a great bang-for-your-buck meal option. Go during off-peak hours to save.

For example, the Wicked Spoon Buffet at Cosmopolitan costs $44 for weekend brunch or dinner but only $26 for weekday lunches. The Bellagio Buffet is $45 on weekends but $25 on weekdays.

Late night buffet prices after 10 pm are also generally cheaper than peak weekend mealtimes. Taking advantage of lower-demand times can save you $10 to $20 per buffet.

4. Don‘t Skip Happy Hour

Happy hour drink and food specials abound in Vegas. It may require some research and planning, but you can eat affordably by strategically hitting afternoon or late-night happy hours on the Strip.

Some of the best happy hour deals can be found at casino bars and restaurants like:

  • Bond Bar at Cosmopolitan – 50% off appetizers and cocktails
  • Aureole at Mandalay Bay – 50% off special dishes and wines
  • Lavo Casino Club – 2-for-1 drink specials, 25% off menu items

5. Bring Your Own Snacks

Technically outside food and drinks aren‘t allowed in casinos, but security is mostly focused on preventing full meals and bottles being brought in.

Discreetly keeping protein bars, snacks, bananas, sandwich materials, etc in your bag or pocket allows you to munch on cheap food between buffet meals instead of buying overpriced snacks at the casino.

Just be low-key and don‘t flaunt it. This DIY snacking saves a ton over buying drinks, chips, candy bars on the casino floor all day.

6. Milk Casino Promotional Offers

When casinos have a new restaurant or feature, they often give out free or discounted coupons to drum up business. Keep an eye out for these promos in free tourist guides, pamphlets, and flyers handed out on the Strip.

For example, when the new Bobby Flay restaurant opened at Caesars Palace, they were giving out buy-one-get-one-free entree coupons to get people in the door. Capitalize on these loss-leader deals when available.

7. Earn Casino Credit from Welcome Offers

Many casinos will match a portion of your initial deposit or losses as a welcome offer when you sign up for their casino credit card. The credit can be used for free meals at their restaurants.

For example, the MGM Resorts card offers a $50 dining credit match after spending $50 on the card. This essentially equates to getting $100 of free food when you first sign up.

Budgeting Per Day in Vegas

How much money you‘ll need per day in Vegas can vary dramatically depending on the experience you want. Here are some guidelines on a per-person, per-day basis excluding hotels and flights:

Budget LevelSample Cost Per Day
Barebones Budget$50-$100
Moderate Budget$150-$300
High Roller Budget$500+

Realistically to have a comfortable, fun Vegas trip with good meals and some entertainment, I‘d recommend budgeting $200-$400 per person per day.

Here‘s a sample moderate $300/day budget:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt, fruit, coffee from home or casino coffee shop ($10)
  • Lunch: Buffet with 2-for-1 coupon ($20)
  • Drinks: Happy hour drinks and water ($30)
  • Dinner: Nice steak dinner with coupon deal ($60)
  • Entertainment: One show like Cirque du Soleil ($120)
  • Gambling: $50 of slot play or table games
  • Incidentals: Tips, snacks, rides ($10)

As you can see, finding discounts on meals, drinks, and shows allows you to do Vegas right at a reasonable price.

Top Tips for Eating Cheap in Vegas

Here are my expert final tips for getting great meals and drinks on the cheap in Las Vegas:

  • Use buffet passes and players club points whenever possible
  • Ask about food and drink coupons and happy hours
  • Avoid pricey restaurants at luxe casino hotels
  • Drink alcohol in moderation – those fruity cocktails add up!
  • BYO cheap non-messy snacks to save between meals
  • Choose cheaper sit-down chains off-Strip when possible
  • Purchase groceries for breakfasts and snacks in room
  • Take advantage of food court options like in LINQ Promenade

The Bottom Line

Despite the free-flowing drinks, food and meals are generally NOT free simply for gambling in Las Vegas casinos. But with the right insider knowledge, you can easily find discounted and even free food in Vegas by taking advantage of promotions, buffets, players clubs rewards, and other techniques.

A savvy Vegas visitor can eat incredibly well on the cheap. Now that you know where to find deals and score freebies, you can enjoy all the pleasures of Sin City without blowing your budget on food and drink.

Have an amazing and affordable culinary adventure in Las Vegas using my trusted advice! Let me know if you have any other food-related questions as you plan your Vegas getaway.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.