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Online Gambling

Reason I like Bovada #3:

One-stop shopping

Let me share my experience at another online casino whose name I won't mention:  I wanted to try out their free-play games, and they made me sign up for an account.  That was annoying, just for free-play, but actually most casinos make you register, so they can annoy you by email to pressure you into depositing real money.

I didn't get to choose my own username, they assigned one, and it was long! An astounding twelve digits of mixed numbers and letters.  There was no way I'd be able to memorize it, I'd have to write it down.

After trying out the free-play games I decided to deposit money and play for real.  And guess what? I had to register a separate account to play for real.  They assigned me a brand-new twelve-digit username.  Great.

Shortly thereafter they started offering play-in-browser games.  That's convenient, so I wanted to get in on that.  Guess what?  Yet another username.

And guess how they handle they money they give you as a matching bonus on your deposit?  You guessed it, another account.

Okay, now let's fast-forward to Bovada: One account gets you everything.  And I mean everything.  Real money, fake money, bonuses, you name it.  I didn't get to choose my account name, but at least it's easy to remember.

And if you want to play for free with fake money, you don't even need an account at all.  For example:

Play for free, no B.S.
One click and you're in.

All in all, I think Bovada is the best bet for U.S. players.

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.
Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

Free Las Vegas Attractions

(also see our separate pages about cheap thrills and paid attractions)

 Last update:  August 2011

Bellagio Fountains & Garden

"The most ambitious water feature ever conceived in terms of choreography, complexity and scale, the Fountains at Bellagio express the romantic spirit of the Resort. More than a thousand fountains dance in front of the Hotel, creating a breathtaking union of water, music and light. The display spans more than a fifth of a mile, with water soaring as high as 240 feet in the air. The fountains are choreographed to music ranging from classical and operatic pieces to songs from Broadway shows. Performances range from delicate and whimsical to grand and commanding, and each performance is uniquely expressive in its interpretation." (from Bellagio's website) The Las Vegas Sun says it has 1,200 nozzles, 4,500 lights, and cost $40 million to build. Shows begin at Noon on the weekends and 3:00pm M-F. Shows happen every half hour until 8:00pm, and then every 15 minutes through midnight.

Inside the Bellagio is an impressive garden area in a huge atrium.  Bellagio changes the garden with the season.  As I write this there's a July 4th theme with a massive Liberty Bell.

Mirage Volcano and Rainforest

"Every fifteen minutes from dusk to midnight, flames shoot into the night sky, spewing smoke and fire 100 feet above the waters below and transforming a tranquil waterfall into streams of molten lava. The volcano at The Mirage has been Las Vegas' signature attraction ever since the resort opened in 1989. The show is free to the public.

"Inside The Mirage's front entrance, you'll find a lush and verdant indoor rainforest housed under a 100-foot-high dome. Palm trees reach 60 feet above cascading waterfalls. Lagoons meander through a forest of rich tropical flora including bird of paradise trees, orchids and bromeliads. Woven into this waterscape is an artist's palette of beautifully colored, delicately arranged tropical flowers enveloped in natural sunlight. Water mists the area lightly throughout the day to enhance the atmosphere and help keep the plants cool. Six full-time gardeners spend over 240 hours each week to maintain the more than 100 different types of plants in the atrium. Over 300 fresh orchids and 1000 bromeliads grace the walkways." (from the Mirage's website)

Pirate Show at Treasure Island

For years the free pirate shows in front of the Treasure Island casino have been one of the most popular attractions on the strip. The show and showtimes are always changing, so see Treasure Island website for current info.  From TI's website:

"a clash between a group of beautiful, tempting sirens and a band of renegade pirates. Visitors will be awed by the music, dance, excitement and seduction in this modern musical-meets-action-movie spectacular. From daring swordplay to high-diving acrobatics and eye-popping pyrotechnics, the show is packed with countless thrills. But beware the sirens, temptresses of the sea. Now, no man is safe in Sirens' Cove. VIP viewing is available for Treasure Island guests. For the safety of all our guests and patrons, strollers are not permitted at the Sirens of TI show."

Moving statues at Caesars Palace

At the very end of the Forum Shops at Caesars is a free show with large, moving statues acting out a short play, running every hour on the hour. It's very popular, but the sound system is horrible: it's almost impossible to make out what the statues are saying with the intense reverb and the thunderous sound effects. It's something about the two offspring vying to be the successors to their father's throne, and he can't choose so he leaves it up to the audience, but then there's some big bird thing and everybody dies. The statue that's the son looks like Keanu Reeves when he's been startled by some headlights. Anyway, it's free, so what have you got to lose?

Fremont Street Experience

When the downtown casinos started losing lots of business to the new megaresort casinos on the strip in the early 90's they decided to fight back. They all banded together to come up with an attraction to keep people coming dowtown. Many ideas were floated, including a system of canals as in Venice, but they finally settled on the Fremont Street Experience: a huge metal canopy over Fremont Street, over five football fields long, and filled with over 12.5 million computer-controlled LED lights which faithfully reproduce video and animation.

The free shows happen every hour on the hour, starting at sundown and ending at midnight. It's easy to find: just go to Fremont Street and look up.  If you're on the Strip just hop on the Deuce or Strip/Downtown Express bus which go straight to Fremont.

If you saw the show before June 2004 and weren't impressed, check it out again: The upgrade added a bunch more lights and dramatically improved the resolution. I thought it was pretty cheesy before, but it's rather impressive now. (Visit the official website.) 

Hotel Architecture/Themes

Hotels on the Strip have invested billions to build massive structures that show off their themed architecture. Here are some of the more famous, in order from the north end of the strip to the south, with the theme or attraction is listed in parentheses.

  • Stratosphere Tower (thrill rides on top)
  • Treasure Island (pirate battles)
  • The Venetian (Venice; gondola rides; historians on retainer)
  • Mirage (volcano, tropical rainforest)
  • Caeser's Palace (Roman)
  • Bellagio (water fountains)
  • Paris (1/3-scale Eiffel Tower)
  • New York-New York (FaÁade is NYC skyscrapers, and Statue of Liberty)
  • MGM Grand (Hollywood)
  • Excalibur (Medieval)
  • Luxor (Egyptian; building is a large pyramid; it lights up at night)