21 March 2015
Scamper Goes Gambling!
We love free camping, but to get paid to camp some place, now that's exciting! We've stayed overnight at the Miccosukee Casino outside of Miami three times now and we've made $87.50 without spending a dime of our own money. "Sweet as" - as the Kiwis would say. Such a great expression.
We've done dry camping before at Walmarts, wildlife refuges and in municipal parking lots, but camping out in a casino parking lot was a whole new experience for us. The Miccosukee Casino is a handy stopping point on the way to and from the Florida Keys or Everglades. The first time we stayed at the casino, we followed the signs for RV parking to the back of the parking lot. As it was a holiday weekend, the place was heaving with cars, trucks and RVs, but we managed to score a parallel parking spot next to a field. Great spot to set up your chairs next to your rig and watch the birds and planes overhead (the casino is on a flight path to the Miami airport).
When we got there, I popped into the casino to get our overnight parking permit at the security desk. They take a photocopy of your drivers license and you sign a form swearing that your rig is self contained, that you won't leave your rig unattended and, most importantly, that you won't use the casino as a base to go sightseeing in Miami. I think they would much rather you spend your tourist dollars at rather casino and not in Miami. With the permit in hand, I came back to our Scamp travel trailer, we made some dinner and watched the movie Casino (it seemed fitting). And that was it - a night of free camping in a parking lot.
The second time we stayed at the casino, Scott came in with me and we had a nosy around the casino. Neither of us gambles, so we weren't planning on doing any gaming. A floor manager saw us wandering around, staring at the machines with their flashing lights and invited us to play on a couple of machines that had credit on them. Scott won nothing on his. I won $21.50. I might have gloated a little bit.
Now the secret to gambling is to stop when you're ahead. I hit the magic collect button when all of the credit on the machine was used up, took my vouchers to the cashier and put my money in my wallet. We walked out $21.50 richer without having spent a dime.
The next time we stayed at the casino, we signed up for the Player's Club. In exchange for divulging your identity and letting them put your details in their system, they give you a $30 voucher to use in one of their gaming machines. So armed with $60 of funny money, Scott and I headed back to the machine I had won on the previous time. All the machines have themes - this one had to do with vampires, werewolves, full moons and that kind of thing. I never did understand how the game works, but I did catch on pretty quickly that vampires are the good guys, especially when you get a few of them lined up on the same row. Cha Ching!
I used my voucher first and won around $10. Because Scott didn't win anything last time and I was on a bit of a winning streak, he had me push the button for him when we inserted his voucher. At one point the lights started going off and the machine flashed "Terrific!" and "Big win!" on the screen. Apparently $44 is a big win on the vampire machine. I was starting to see how people get sucked into gambling. The flashing lights were mesmerizing and seeing my winnings add up was pretty exciting. But we stuck to our guns and cashed in once our credit was used up. This time we won $65.55, again without spending any of our own money!
We decided that since the friendly folks at the casino were essentially paying us to stay in their parking lot, we should reinvest some of our winnings back in the form of dinner. We both got the $9.95 steak and lobster special. It was about what you would expect for $9.95. But, you know what made it taste even better - the fact that it didn't cost us a dime!
Someone told us that the casino is going to start charging to park your RV next year. Not sure if that's true, but with folks like us who don't spend a dime of their own money and walk out with cash in their hands, you can see why they might be thinking about it.
We resisted the slot machines at Miccosukee Casino on 15 February 2015, had our first win on 9 March 2015 and hit it "big" on 20 March 2015.
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