Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easy loophole to win money at casinos on the high seas

Cruise ship casinos offer easy money making opportunities
It’s no surprise that casinos are so lavish and opulent with the odds stacked so severely against the player.  It’s generally a losing battle to win money at a casino.  The house advantage ranges anywhere from 0.5% to 5.9% with Blackjack all the way up to 4% to 14% with slot machines.  In fact, casinos make two thirds of their profits from slot machines.  Casinos take on very little risk and in the long-run they’re sure to win big.  If you’re playing roulette and you’re betting $100 per hour, you’ll lose on average $5.26 an hour.  The longer you play, the more likely you are to lose.
At, we’re rightly opposed to gambling.  In the end, only the casino will see their net worth increase.  When I visit a casino, I’ll generally set aside $20 to $40 as my entertainment budget for the night with the understanding that I’ll have some fun playing and I’ll receive a few free drinks in return, although I have no expectation of winning money since the odds are stacked against me.
Boarding the cruise ship
My opinion recently changed as I turned the odds completely against the casino.  Recently, my brother and I vacationed in Alaska on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl.  On our first day on board, we explored the ship to discover what types of entertainment options were available.  We quickly discovered that there was a casino on board and it would open as soon as we set out onto the high seas.
Initially, I was disinterested in the casino, but we decided to return later in the evening to watch some of the action unfold.  As always, it’s most entertaining to watch people put their money on the line with the fleeting belief that they might actually earn a decent return.
Free cash advance
While watching the games, we noticed a sign that advertised free credit card cash advances for gamblers.  The Pearl was most likely offering free cash advances since you’ll likely use the cash to gamble.  Since the casino stacks the odds against the player, the cash will undoubtedly make its way back to the casino.
Most credit cards offer cash advances, which allow cardholders to withdraw cash, but it generally comes at a hefty cost.  A cash advance costs anywhere from 2% to 5% of the withdrawn cash.  For example, when withdrawing $100, the fee will run up to $5.  As a prudent credit card user, you want to avoid cash advances like the plague.
However, the Pearl offered a very enticing cash advance offer without the fee.  By using my credit card to withdraw cash, the amount would show up like any other normal charge and not as a cash advance.  Then the opportunity dawned on me.  Most credit cards offer some type of reward for using the credit card.  My American Express card from Fidelity offers 2% cash back on all purchases.  This means that if I withdrew $2,000 from the casino, I would earn an easy 2% or $40 from my credit card company, with no cost.  As long as I didn't use the cash to gamble, I would come out ahead.

Exploiting the deal
The Pearl limited withdrawals to $2,000 per night.  Exploiting the opportunity, I dutifully returned to the casino each night to withdraw $2,000 a night for a total of $10,000 over the course of the trip.  This earned me a cool $200.  Unfortunately, for the casino, the odds were 100% in my favor.  Once I withdrew the cash, I quickly placed it in a secure safe for safekeeping.  Once I returned home, I immediately deposited the funds in my bank account to pay off my now enormous credit card bill.  My gambling experience gave me a new found respect for cruise ship casinos and helped make the trip a little more affordable.