Does it make sense to cash your paycheck in a casino? Now, there’s a subject on which you’re certain to get conflicting opinions. A lot of people don’t think it’s a good idea for the obvious reason—having a pocketful of money in a casino makes it easy to make a big mistake. It’s a valid concern if you’re susceptible to that sort of temptation. But assuming you’re not, and most rational people aren’t, cashing a paycheck in a casino can be a nice little advantage play.
Gambling expert Max Rubin got it right in his classic book, Comp City: “This is a no-risk no-brainer that anyone who lives in or near a gambling mecca is crazy not to take advantage of. Casinos with check-cashing promotions let you spin a wheel, pull a handle, or scratch a ticket to give you some kind of chance at winning up to double your pay. The worst you can do is get a free drink. A lot of people get comped meals, cash and other juicy prizes. Every once in awhile, someone pops for the whole deal and walks out a thousand or two richer. Cash your paycheck at a bank and they’re afraid you’ll abscond with the pen.”
These programs aren’t quite as common as they used to be, but there are still plenty of them around—especially at the locals casinos. Things change, but a recent check turned up at least 50 casinos with programs, including the Stations, Fiestas, Boyds, Canneries, Ellis Island, Tuscany, Terrible’s, Rampart, El Cortez, Las Vegas Club, South Point, Silverton, and Palms. The best way to play it is to start experimenting with different places. Cash your check in a couple of casinos to see which program gives you the most. You can get details by inquiring at the cashier’s cage.
Which is best? That’s fairly subjective, which is why you want to check around. But a good starting point is any Station or Fiesta casino. Their program is solid in that you get both a free drink and a shot at a big prize by spinning a wheel. How big? It’s possible to win a car, a truck or $10,000 in cash (I recently heard of a truck being won). The range of prizes at Ellis Island runs from a free slice of Metro pizza to $250 in free play. Cash at the Palms on Fridays and get a $3 spin on Megabucks.
The point is, by cashing your check in a casino, you can get a bonus, and sometimes the opportunities extend beyond paychecks. One of my favorites is at El Cortez, where they’ll give you 5 percent of the amount of your IRS refund check in free play, with the rebate topping out at $50. Try making that deal at a B of A.