During the Spring of 2021, the team at BonusFinder set out to find a professional casino tester which would be a dream job for many. The winning candidate would be offered travel and accommodation in Las Vegas, along with a spending budget for the casinos, to document their experiences while staying and playing in some world famous casinos.
The selection process was a tough one as aspiring casino testers from all over the US were in the fight for the dream job. Eventually a winner was crowned, and could look forward to an exciting experience in Las Vegas. Andrew Christopher was crowned winner, and the perfect candidate could now get ready for a great time in Las Vegas.
Andrew was certainly a good fit for this job, as the BonusFinder team received a great review from his experiences of the famous MGM Grand. Andrew took notes on his experiences and thoughts about everything from games selection, layout of the resort, loyalty programs, and much more.
Here is BonusFinder's professional Casino Tester Review of MGM Grand made by Andrew Christopher:
Before you read this review, you need to understand who's writing it. I am a psychologist, fascinated as much if not more by watching other people in casinos than in actual gambling myself. I enjoy playing all table games, particularly blackjack and roulette, and am less-included to hit the slots unless I am around friends who are watching me play or playing alongside me. I love sports betting, though it is by far-and-away where I am most likely to lose (a lot of) money. I love the atmosphere of in-person casinos, and although I've tried online betting, it cannot compare to the fun of spending an evening in an in-person casino, even when I am not at a table. I have been to Vegas a total of 9 times now, only twice for pure pleasure, and I've always stayed on the Strip. So, I have a decent familiarity with that part of Vegas, less so the Downtown area.
If you're not a Vegas regular (and perhaps even if you are), you need to know there is way more to Vegas and the surrounding area than gambling. If you're not much of a gambler but are traveling to this area, you won't be bored even if you never step foot in a casino or sportsbook. There is world-class hiking in what is one of the world's most picturesque settings, some of the best shows anywhere (if you've never seen the Love show at The Mirage, newsflash -- your bucket list is not full), world-class art exhibits, and more food options (for all budgets) than I myself can conceive of in one location. If your travel companion is hesitant to go to Vegas because "there is nothing to do but gamble," it won't take much searching for them to fill their days, even if it's just sitting at any of the world-class pools the resorts offer, and of course, sipping on unique beverages only found here.
Enough background, let's talk a bit about the MGM Grand!
In many ways, this is the signature MGM resort in Las Vegas, meant to appeal to the widest Vegas-going audience possible. It has an element of grandeur more so than many of its other properties, though less so than its top-end Bellagio and Aria. For those going to Vegas for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, this resort will appeal to such people who want a higher-end experience, but don't want to spend a fortune on a place to stay. This resort does have a wide array of entertainment options for non-gamblers, including a gorgeous Top Golf facility that overlooks the Strip and offers novel snacks and beverages not available at other Top Golf facilities. Indeed, for a casino that is known amongst Vegas regulars, it does have a number of entertainment options for families with kids. Of course, for the hard-core repeat Vegas visitor, this resort will also be attractive, both in terms of its casino as well as other entertainment and dining options. It definitely aims to provide an upscale feel without being pretentious.
The casino was a pleasure to be in, even when not bellied up to a table. Even though this is a casino I visit on almost any trip to Vegas, it never gets old. The clientele appeared to be here for fun more than "winning big." You will find people of all legal ages here, attesting to its wide appeal. There are of course some "serious gamers" but most people seemed to be in the casino for a night of entertainment. There is a high limit room for all table games, though I myself was not welcome there (for financial reasons, I don't think it was personal).
The sportsbook was expansive, with lots of individual and table seating, and perhaps too many TVs to keep track of everything going on. Even a casual sports fan can lose themselves here. Indeed, this is the case with most things in Vegas – they are designed to help you lose track of time!
Interestingly, the casino runs parallel to most of the shopping, restaurant, and other entertainment options, as opposed to being the center of them, which seemed more common in other resorts. I liked this layout because if you wanted to escape the casino, it was easy to do, and likewise, if you did not want non-casino distractions, you won't have them here. Whatever you were into, it was "all there," so to speak.
Shopping and Dining Options
The MGM Grand contains The District, a collection of middle- and high-end retail outlets and a wide array of lower-, middle- and high-end places to eat. Be careful – time will get away from you here with all there is to do and see here (and buy and eat).
Although most if not all casino resorts have some sort of food court, the one at the MGM Grand was particularly appealing because it offered one of the wider range of food choices, as well as great variability in price. It would be hard to imagine someone not being able to find something they liked to eat right here. Of course, there are a number of restaurants and bars available as well, and they run the gamut from quite formal to shorts-and-tshirt sports bars.
In addition to The District, the MGM Grand has The Underground, a collection of lower- and middle-tier shops and places to eat, generally for a quick meal (e.g., slice of pizza) or substantial snack. Importantly too, the Vegas Monorail, which runs along the east side of the Strip, has its first stop here in the Underground (or its last stop depending on your point-of-view; it runs between the MGM Grand and the Sahara at the far north end of the Strip). It is quite handy, especially if you're visiting resorts on the east side of the Strip. Admittedly, for resorts on the west side of the Strip, you still need to be prepared to do some walking, but at least you'll be inside, which is critical during the summers. Here is the full scoop on the Monorail: https://www.lvmonorail.com/
I did not eat at this resort, but most sit-down places, because of current precautions had signs urging you to make reservations. However, when I asked about how crucial reservations were, no place indicated they were mandatory. During peak dining hours, especially at higher-end restaurants, it's always a good idea to make reservations.
The table dealers seemed particularly engaging at this resort. That didn't really surprise me, but throughout my stay in Vegas more generally, it did feel as though service workers, not just table dealers but everyone, including higher-level management folks, made a serious effort to welcome visitors. This was my first trek to Vegas since the pandemic started, so perhaps I was just in a particularly happy mood to be back, or perhaps the folks working there were happy to have us back. Either way, even amongst visitors, here and at other resorts, complete strangers seemed much more engaged with each other than I recall being the case when I was last there. Indeed, at one craps table, the dealers went overboard helping a couple of newbies at the table, and a couple of more-experienced players shared their tips as well. I was actually disappointed leaving that table, as it felt we'd all become a team. Such feelings were common throughout my time during this visit. Expect the best service you've ever had in Vegas right now.
Although the atmosphere felt like it catered to experienced gamers, I found the cashiers at both the casino and sportsbook windows to be most helpful. Asking simple questions that I knew the answers to, the cashiers answered my queries like they got such questions all of the time. For instance, at the casino window, I asked where I could get chips to play blackjack, and at the sportsbook, I asked why a 2-legged parlay of -125 and +125 did not have odds of 0 (yes, seriously, I asked that question). In neither instance did I feel belittled with the response that I received.
On the Sunday evening that I visited this resort, both windows had minimal wait time, less than a minute. I was able to get my bet placed at the sportsbook with no issues, and the casino cashier was quick and friendly with their service.
Range of Games and Experience
The casino and sportsbook at the MGM Grand are both impressive in size and layout. The casino never really feels that big when you are at a given spot, but as you start walking through it, it just seems to go on and on and on with its extensive selection of both slots and table games. I played two table games here, black jack and craps, and had a great time at both, largely because, even on a Sunday night, the table games were well-attended with people, many of whom commented how nice it was to be able to be around others again. Indeed, the casino, as mentioned previously, felt fun no matter what I was playing or watching others play.
The MGM Grand is part of the MLife Rewards program, which you can read all about here: https://www.mgmresorts.com/en/mlife-rewards-program.html. In nutshell, as is the case with most rewards programs more generally, anything you spend money on in an MGM resort earns you points that can be redeemed for a variety of niceties detailed on the site.
As was the case with every resort I visited, I could not look in any direction without seeing someone cleaning something at any time (yes, even into the wee hours of the morning). Not only high-touch surfaces such as door handles, but it was quite common to see staff even cleaning baseboards! Hand-sanitizing dispensers were literally always in-sight as well, with small bottles available at every gaming table I visited. Moreover, all but two casinos I visited had someone stationed at every entrance, making sure folks were masked-up when they walked in and acting without reservation when someone was not masked entering the resort. These "guards" could provide masks if you needed one, and at just about every hand-sanitizing station was a supply of masks guests could take if they so needed to. It was also common to see a police officer near these entrances as well, and in one instance, they helped the entrance guard deal with someone displeased at the prospect of wearing their mask.
It would be hard for me to imagine a place doing more to prevent spread than what I saw across the board (not just here at MGM Grand) in Vegas.