The adage tells us that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Clearly, however, the person who coined that phrase hadn’t stepped foot in a Las Vegas casino.


How else would the philosophizing wordsmith explain buffet meals paid with gambling points? How else would she justify two-for-one or three-for-one Happy Hour specials? What would he say about the preponderance of public art in that (literally) anyone can see at will?


Indeed, there are many ways to score free stuff at Vegas casinos these days. Here, in no particular order, are some of the bunch.


Players’ card programs

Just about every casino in modern Vegas has a players’ card program to track a) what casino games you play b) how much you generally gamble and c) when you visit. Casino companies use this information to market deals and discounts to program members. They also use the system to reward players for their loyalty in the form of points that are exchangeable for cash equivalent at many on-site restaurants and shops.


Casino companies don’t only offer “comps” (as they are known in the industry) in exchange for play; often they will offer free stuff just for signing up. In some cases, this sign-up bonus could be a t-shirt. In other cases, it might be enough points for a meal at the food court, or a coupon for $10 in chips at a table game.


IMHO, players’ cards are *the best* way to score free stuff at casinos. Especially if you like to gamble anyway, why not get something back for your efforts?


Follow social

Vegas casinos were slow to embrace social media, but in recent years they really have come on strong. Today, just about every casino has its own Twitter handle and/or Facebook page. In almost all cases, the casinos use these social media as platforms to share special deals with followers and fans.


No, you won’t get any MAJOR freebies from becoming a loyal supporter online. You might, however, score yourself a 2-for-1 Happy Hour code, or the scoop on a free event for social followers overall.


Be a woman

Carrying two copies of the X chromosome can save you major cash in Las Vegas, especially if you’re into the party scenes. While most nightclubs and dayclubs charge a cover for male guests, many waive that same fee—or greatly reduce it—for female guests. Considering that some of these clubs now have covers upward of $30 and $40, this savings can be significant.

Viewfinder Tip: If you forget your players’ card but you want credit for playing table games, just give the pit boss your driver’s license; the credits automatically will link to your account.


Seek art for all

One of the best free things in and around Las Vegas: Public art. City Center, that hulking complex at the Center of the Strip that includes Aria Resort & Casino, invested $40 million in artwork when it opened in 2009; and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, curates an artist-in-residence program at its P3 studio.


For more public art, head downtown, where the fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture at the front of Downtown Container Park is worth a trip in and of itself.


Of course the best free art in town can be found on First Friday, when downtown galleries throw open their doors and the city’s 18b Arts District transforms into one giant street party of creativity. This event has become one of the biggest spectacles of every month. And in case I didn’t make it clear enough: First Friday is totally free.


Gamble

The easiest way to score free stuff in Vegas: Just gamble. So long as you’re sitting at table games or slot machines, drinks always are free. In some poker rooms, active players have access to other great specials, such as free and discounted food. Many bingo rooms give out free snacks.


As a long-time gambling writer, I’d be remiss if, at this point, I neglected to note the importance of gambling responsibly. Still, if you’re getting free stuff for your bets, at least moderate losses won’t hurt so much.


How do you like to spend your time inside a Las Vegas casino?