RVers looking for a place to “blacktop boondock” (dry camp, parking lot style) soon discover there aren’t many places that allow free overnight parking. Most states discourage overnight parking at interstate rest areas; shopping centers ask RVs to leave at the end of the business day, and even some 24-hour supercenters have posted “No Overnight Parking” signs. You can usually stay overnight at truck stops, but their parking areas tend to be crowded and noisy.
Casino parking lots, on the other hand, are hospitable and convenient. Throughout the country there are more than 200 casinos within 10 miles of an Interstate exit. Many casinos welcome campers to stay overnight because they know the casinos might get additional business. And travelers get a quiet, safe spot to rest without being hassled. Since most casinos are open 24/7, security personnel are on duty all night.
But before you pull into a casino parking lot for the night, be aware that there are some rules you should follow:
- After arriving, check with security to verify whether you can stay overnight in the parking lot, and ask where they want you to park.
- If the casino has a fee-pay campground as part of the facility, it is essential to check with security to ask about your options for staying overnight. Some casinos will allow you to stay in the parking lot anyway. But there are a number of casinos that require you to pull into their campground if you want to stay for the night.
- Blacktop boondockers: limit your free overnight stay to a single 24-hour period.
- If there is no designated area for large vehicles, park on the perimeter of the lot. Don’t take up spaces intended for cars. (Note that casinos in crowded urban areas do not have space to accommodate RVs. Be sure to get permission before you park.)
- Don’t abuse the property owner’s hospitality. A parking lot is not a campground. If there’s enough space, it’s OK to open a slideout, but restrict your activity to the inside of your vehicle.
- Do not leave your RV unattended overnight or for any extended period of time. This may seem like simple, common sense advice, but you’d be surprised at how many folks park their expensive units in a parking lot and then go off to visit friends for a few days. If you are foolish enough to do this, don’t be surprised upon your return to find your unattended vehicle has been towed away.
Blacktop boondocking at a casino is comfortable. You have your home with you, so you can either walk or take the shuttle bus to and from the casino. You can play shorter, more relaxing gaming sessions with breaks in between. For couples, when one wants to play cards or slots and the other doesn’t, there’s no problem. And then there’s the obvious benefit: “blacktop boondocking” is free!
Discounts: Senior citizen discounts are common at casinos. Some casinos offer two-for-one meals on “Senior Days,” and even free breakfast or lunch. The minimum age to qualify varies, but anyone 50 or older should ask about senior discounts. Most casino resorts extend AAA and AARP discounts, and many casinos offer RV-related discounts.
Players Clubs: When going into a casino for the first time, stop at the players club desk, apply for a card and ask about incentives for new members. Often they’ll give you a free gift just for joining—cash credit toward $10 of gaming is typical. And, don’t think that because you are just passing through for a one- or two-day visit, you won’t be able to accumulate enough points for comps. Even minimal points can amount to a discount at the buffet, and it doesn’t cost anything to join. But remember that you won’t earn points unless you have properly inserted your card in a gaming machine or presented the card at a gaming table.