Did you know that there are many casinos across the US that allow RVers to park for free? In fact, casinos are one of our top choices when looking for a free place to stay, especially if we want to be near a city, as these tend to be found closer to metros and/or desirable vacation towns and cities.
When we were traveling through the Pacific Northwest (PNW) last summer and fall, we stayed at so many casinos, and our experiences were primarily excellent. These casinos were in a variety of locations, including two nearby Seattle, several along the Washington coast, a handful in Northern California, one tucked into Coastal Oregon, and a variety of other places. Although the bulk of our experiences lie in the PNW casinos, there are casinos all over the country that allow free camping. You can usually find these sites listed on Campendium, but there are a few other resources that also list free casino camping information.
One thing that we were very surprised to discover about these western casinos was the classiness and cleanliness found inside each of them. Being from New Jersey, we once held the opinion that all casinos are kept up as nicely as the Atlantic City, NJ, casinos. (read: not so nice) This is not the case.
Most of the casinos out West are Native American owned and run, and they are typically in pristine, immaculate condition. Although we are not big on gambling, it is easy for us to appreciate a well-run and classy establishment. This is all said to stress that there is no shame in casino camping and nothing to worry about in regards to the cleanliness of the facilities, as they are typically well-run and up-scale.
If you want to camp at casinos, there are some rules/tips you should follow for the best overall experience, which I will describe below.
If you are staying at a casino in your RV, you are most likely dry camping, which means that you will have no hookups to water, sewer or electric. Be sure to arrive with a full fresh water tank and empty black and gray water tanks to ensure that you do not run out of water or gray/black tank space. Keep in mind that casinos will most likely not have a place to fill water or dump, and you should rely on your own research to find a place to take care of your utilities. We have found a few casinos with some basic services, but these are rare and not to be depended on.
In addition, there is typically no shore power provided, so you will have to either rely on a generator or solar to power your RV. For more tips on the best ways to dry camp/boondock, check out my post “HOW to Boondock.”
Check in with Security?
Some casinos want each RV staying with them to register, but others simply require you to roll in, choose a site, and park. Call ahead to see what each particular casino requires and, if applicable, where they want you to register. This will ensure a smooth arrival.
Where to Park
Determine where the casino wants RV guests to park. Just because the casinos have huge lots does not mean they want their primary car parking filled gigantic motorhomes. Typically, there is a designated area where the casino will want you to park, so if you don’t see mention of it in a Campendium review or you don’t visibly see the area where all the other RVs are parked, be sure to ask at the front desk or call security. Either way, be sure to get the answer before parking and setting up your site.
Max Stay Length
Figure out the max number of days allowed to stay at the casino you want to visit. Typically, the max stay is listed on Campendium, but it never hurts to double check with the casino security and make sure you are not overstaying your welcome. We have been to casinos with a 1 or 2-night limit, and we have been to casinos with a fourteen-day limit.
Not a Campground
Keep in mind that a casino lot is not a campground. Although you may stay and make their parking lot your temporary home, most places would prefer that you do not set up your awning, chairs, and table outside. They would especially prefer that you do not leave your barking dog tied up outside. (Yes, we have seen this many times). Remember that you are not renting a site to make your own; you are merely borrowing a site in a business’s parking lot for a short amount of time. In short, just be respectful.
Be polite about your generator usage. Since most casinos do not provide shore power (although we have stayed at one that did!), many casino campers run generators to charge their batteries. This is a perfectly acceptable way to power up if done at the correct times of day. Certain casinos have specific generator hours posted, but for the ones that don’t establish a mental 8am-10pm generator allowance time slot. We have stayed in casino lots where RVers blasted their generators all. night. long. Please do not make me unpack why this is extremely rude.
If you are enjoying a free overnight stay at a casino, why not spend a little money there to make it worth their while? As I mentioned, we are not gamblers, so spending money on slots and gaming tables does not appeal to us. But in the spirit of reciprocity, we like to spend some money at the casinos where we are camping for free, so we typically eat a meal at the restaurant or buffet. We have had some pretty great casino buffet breakfasts because of this little rule we like to follow.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you are sure to have a pleasant casino camping experience. In fact, some of our most memorable stays have been at casinos in Florence, Oregon, and in Ocean Shores, Washington. With the right tools and mindset, casino camping can be a great way to experience a particular area, and we hope that you try and enjoy this unique RV experience.
Have you camped at a casino before? How was your experience? Any tips or tricks you’d recommend? Feel free to share in the comments below!