Casino Matching Fun in Atlantic City
By Angie & Jeff
June 27, 2023
A photo of Angie's Caesar's Diamond, Hard Rock Rock Royalty, Ocean Prime, and MGM Gold cards.
NOTE: Throughout our casino matching posts, we want to be clear on the difference between free and free. For full disclosure, free listed in bold italics throughout this article really means very highly discounted from what is the typical cost of a cruise. There are some costs like port fees and gratuities which have to be paid for the cruises. However, there are a number of other perks that are truly free, zip, nada, -0- extra cost, like free hotel stays and smaller perks like free food and beverage credits and free play dollars in casinos. This is the difference between free and free for this post.
If you’ve read the first part of our casino match posts, Two Free Cruises from a $95 Annual Fee Credit Card: Our Story, you already know that the journey begins before you even leave your house to maximize the benefits of the matching journey. This post outlines the first portion of our in-person status matching quest with the ultimate goal of more free cruises, with a fun weekend in Atlantic City with some free play, free food, and free drinks as an added benefit. Matching is an ever-changing hobby, so please note that the feasibility of these matching paths can change quickly.
Use this as a guide but also do your own diligence when planning your matching trip to make sure your matching path still works. It should also be noted that we chose to follow this matching path all under Angie’s name only because we couldn’t fit in all the related cruises with available time off to do this for both of us at the same time. But, if you have a partner, it is possible for both of you to follow this matching path and double all the benefits as you do so.
This next few sections of the path about Parx Casino is no longer feasible, we recommend skipping this portion of the match and proceeding directly to Atlantic City. We decided to leave this section in to share what may be possible in this ever-changing hobby.
We planned to fly to Philadelphia because it was the closest we could fly to Atlantic City with Southwest and we wanted to leverage our companion pass where Jeff flies for the price of taxes as long as Angie is on the plane. We will share our strategy to obtain the Southwest Companion pass and how we are leveraging it in a future post. But we changed the flight to arrive to Baltimore from Minneapolis (for $269.20 for Angie’s flight + $5.60 for Jeff’s) to be able to try a newly discovered matching path with Parx Casino in Shippensburg, PA; this also required adding a little over 4 hour driving detour instead of the more direct route straight to the Philadelphia area.
We drove from Baltimore to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to visit the brand new Parx Casino there because we read a post from a reader in the Facebook group for the Miles Talk blog that matching Caesar’s Diamond at Parx Casino would result in getting Parx Black status and then Parx Black matched to Rivers Black at Rivers Casino in Philadelphia where Black status came with a 10 day cruise anywhere in the world with MSC, at that time. Again, this is no longer possible from our understanding, but we were lucky enough to squeak in our matching and booking before that path ended. It was a VERY new path and uncertain, but we decided to go for it as we love a road trip and an adventure.
We arrived at Parx Casino just before midnight and the matching process took less than 10 minutes. At Parx we matched the newly matched Caesar’s Diamond status to Parx Black status. Since we don’t yet have a physical Caesar’s Diamond card we just showed the virtual Caesar’s Diamond card on Angie’s phone. This worked just fine. Parx also gave us each $10 of free play. Angie turned the $10 into $6.25 winnings, Jeff turned the $10 into $0.
After matching at Parx Casino we continued on our drive to Philadelphia for a one night Hyatt Place stay (for 5000 points) before proceeding to Atlantic City the next morning for more matching and a one night stay at Caesar’s Atlantic City.
Upon arriving in Atlantic City we drove to Caesar’s Casino, parked in the garage knowing we would have free parking upon exit with the physical Caesar’s Diamond card we were picking up and not have to pay the $20 fee listed on the sign.We followed signs to the casino and the rewards desk and very easily picked up Angie’s physical Caesar’s Diamond card. The staff member at the desk also noted that Angie’s $100 free celebration dinner was loaded on the card, but we were already planning to save that for our trip to Las Vegas a couple of months later. Stay tuned for our post on the Las Vegas portion of this adventure.
After getting the physical Caesar’s Diamond card we then walked to the Caesar’s Hotel Check In Desk. We arrived hours before check in time and still got a room immediately. In fact, we were upgraded to the 42nd Floor Centurion Tower and got a room with a city view. We had preferred to get an ocean view room but soon found we weren’t missing much as the ocean view out the windows near the elevators showed the foggy sky.
A photo of the foggy sky at Caesar's Atlantic City.
When we arrived, the line for Caesar’s Diamond status was about equal to the line for those without status, about 10 people in each line. However, about an hour later we walked by the check in desk again and things were very different. The line for those without status had swelled to about 40 people deep and the lines for Diamond status had just one couple waiting. We also noticed earlier when we were checking in that guests with Diamond status or higher were being called up to the check in desk at about a three-to-one ratio compared to those without status so having the Diamond status definitely does help save time here.
Hard Rock Casino
We were off to Hard Rock Casino for the next status match. We parked at Ocean Casino just over a block away because you pay parking as you enter Hard Rock’s garage but you pay Ocean as you leave and we would have Prime status to waive parking fees upon exit. (The alternate path is valet parking at Hard Rock which will only cost you the valet tips because you pay valet when you retrieve your car and that is free with Hard Rock Rock Royalty status.)
The Hard Rock Casino Player’s Club Desk is on the city side of the building so you will need to meander your way through the casino to get there if you enter on the boardwalk side, as we did. We showed Angie’s Caesar’s Diamond card and were matched to Hard Rock Rock Royalty status. Getting the physical Hard Rock Rock Royalty card was super quick taking only about five minutes. The agent helping us recommended we wait approximately 15 minutes for the $50 of free play to load to the new Hard Rock Rock Royalty card. We wandered about and then turned the $50 of free play into $11 on a slot machine.
Angie & Jeff with money from Hard Rock Casino.
There are ‘Unity Coming Soon’ signs everywhere so sadly this link in the casino matching puzzle may be changing soon. Once Unity Rewards is implemented in Atlantic City, it is unknown how Ocean Casino will match to that program. As of the date we were at Hard Rock (April 16, 2023 and the through the date of publication) everything is still working fine for this match. The Unity name is already on the Player’s Club Desk though so time may be of the essence to complete this match as soon as possible.
We did hear from an employee at MGM’s Borgata who has a family member working at the Hard Rock Casino that there is a significant complication with adopting the new Unity rewards program in Atlantic City due to the ownership of the casino by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, so if that is true it could be good news for matching going forward because this match is needed for the key match for the best perks, which is Ocean Casino.
Hard Rock Casino Rewards Desk has already changed the sign to Unity Players Club.
Signs outside Hard Rock Casino Atlantic City noting Unity Coming Soon.
We walked back down the boardwalk to the Ocean Casino and matched Angie’s new Hard Rock Rock Royalty card from Hard Rock Casino to their Ocean Prime status. This status comes with a free 7-day oceanview MSC Caribbean cruise and 2-night free stay at the Wynn in Las Vegas with a $50 food and beverage credit.
It comes with a 2-night stay at Ocean, too, but that isn’t loaded until about 72 hours after matching and is only good for 60 days so we weren’t able to use this perk. Finally, when you first match to Ocean Prime, you and a guest have complimentary access to the Avila Lounge with a buffet and unlimited bar, all complimentary. We planned this for our dinner, but first needed to finish our final status match at MGM’s Borgata casino.
Here's the Ocean t-shirt Angie received as a perk we didn’t expect. We joked to one another we couldn’t believe no one had mentioned it before. It’s a nice pajama shirt.
After matching at Ocean Casino, to get out of the Ocean parking garage simply swipe your new Ocean Prime card. Parking is free with your newly matched Prime status.
MGM Borgata Casino
Next, we drove to MGM Borgata.The $5 parking charge will not apply because we will have MGM Gold Status upon exiting and you pay for parking on the way out. We showed the Ocean Prime card at the MGM Rewards Desk to match to MGM Gold. This doesn’t come with any immediate benefit in Atlantic City (other than swiping your new MGM Gold card to raise the parking gate for free), but it does lead to waived resort fees, free parking, and priority lines in Las Vegas.
We were also working on a status challenge with Hyatt at the time and MGM is a partner to Hyatt, so staying at MGM properties in Las Vegas can be an inexpensive way to collect qualifying nights for Hyatt, especially with resort fees and parking fees waived. However, if you do not have any status with Hyatt, you can use MGM Gold status to match to Hyatt Explorist status online. (Many people will then match these two statuses back and forth indefinitely as MGM status typically ends in June and Hyatt status in February. We did/plan to do this for Jeff’s Hyatt and MGM accounts because only Angie was completing the status match challenge with Hyatt.)
Enjoying Reward Dinner at Ocean
After matching at MGM Borgata, we returned to our Caesar’s hotel. We parked our rental car in the Caesar’s parking garage and walked back to Ocean Casino where we enjoyed our free Avila Lounge Buffet with complimentary beverages, including alcohol. The staff was great here and we enjoyed several different martinis with dinner and after. We did leave a tip for our server for the great table service and also a separate tip for our bartender when we ordered drinks at the bar after dinner, so the cost wasn’t completely free but very low cost for the experience.
Shrimp, buttery mashed potatoes, and salad at Ocean Avila Lounge.
Two of the martinis we had a Ocean Avila Lounge.
Prime Rib and Shrimp at Ocean Avila Lounge.
Jeff enjoying an Espresso Martini at Ocean Avila Lounge Bar.
After enjoying the free dinner and drinks at Ocean’s Avila Lounge, we took a nice walk along the boardwalk again back towards Caesar’s hotel. We enjoyed the changing lights on the Ferris wheel and the nice ocean breeze on the walk along the boardwalk. It is the perfect end to a great day.
Walking the boardwalk from Ocean back to Caesar's.
Hard Rock Car Wash
The next morning before heading out on the road back to Philadelphia for more status matching we made one more stop in Atlantic City to claim another free perk that comes with Hard Rock Rock Royalty status. Most people do not wash their rental car, but we tried to get our free monthly car wash at Hard Rock Car Wash before leaving town. Unfortunately the car wash was closed on the day we visited and as we heard later, it is often closed.
Jeff in front of Hard Rock Car Wash. Ocean Casino is also visible in the distance.
At this point, we would recommend you end this Atlantic City portion of your matching journey here as the Philadelphia casino matching path has changed significantly since our visit. But, like the Parx Casino portion of the post, we will briefly share our experience to give you an idea of the possibilities with matching.
Our next stop was Live! Casino in Philadelphia. They take photos of all of your casino cards and submit them for a match that can take several days. If we hadn’t taken the detour to Parx, we would have needed their status matching to match to our next stop, Rivers Casino. But, since we had Parx Black, we didn’t truly need Live! status.
We matched because there was a possibility of 2 free nights at Resorts World in Las Vegas, but that did not come to fruition for us as they changed the terms for matching around the time we were there so this is no longer a benefit of matched status.
We played our $10 of free play. After playing through, we turned the free play money into 43 cents. We went to one of the cash redemption machines and the screen presented us options to get the cash or donate to several local charities. We donated the 43 cents to Philly PAWS Animal Welfare Society.
Our final matching stop was Rivers Casino. At Rivers, we matched the Parx Black status to their Black status. At the time of matching, this tier came with a 10-day MSC balcony cruise anywhere in the world that MSC sails and 2-free nights at the Venetian in Las Vegas. We were only able to book the 10-day MSC balcony cruise before Rivers Casino very quickly changed their terms making these benefits unavailable through status matching alone, and not gambling.
Our status match came with a free $10 play or $20 food and beverage credit. We chose to enjoy the $20 food and beverage credit for a Philly cheesesteak and cheese fries lunch.
Free 'cheesesteak wit whiz' at Geno's Steaks inside Rivers Casino with free food and beverage credit.
Free cheese fries at Geno's Steaks inside Rivers Casino with free food and beverage credit.
It is important to note that this trip was not free; we spent just under $700 on the rental car, flight (only one way for us because we combined this with another already scheduled trip), hotels, gas, food, and incidentals as well as 5000 Hyatt points. We felt this was a good use of these funds because we had a fun time there and the possibility of netting multiple free cruises and free nights in Las Vegas.
On this Atlantic City matching trip we have obtained a 7-day oceanview MSC cruise in the Caribbean, a 10-day balcony MSC cruise in the Mediterranean, and 2-free nights at the Wynn in Las Vegas, plus saved lots of time and parking fees from status during our time in Las Vegas. We will share details about all of these experiences in future posts after they happen. This is all in addition to everything we got from the first part of the matching done before leaving home. The matching journey continues in Las Vegas next.