The “Dirty 30s” were anything but what the name implies for gaming in the United States. Outlawed in the U.S., gambling came to the forefront after the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. To help raise necessary revenue, Nevada legalized gambling in 1931.
Over the years, gambling in Las Vegas flourished and, in 1978, it was legalized in Atlantic City. While Las Vegas and Atlantic City are synonymous with risk taking, gaming is now legal, in at least some form, in 48 states, excluding Hawaii and Utah. The three segments of the gambling industry are casinos, lotteries, and parimutuel.
Whether you want the bright lights of a mega gambling center or the quiet, dark skies above a riverboat casino, when it comes to gambling, the U.S. is the most diverse destination of choice for both tourists and professionals alike.
Here’s a list of Refund Management Services’ top American gambling hubs, working our way up to number 1:
10. Tunica/Lula, Mississippi
According to the most recent figures, Tunica/Lula brought in $821 million in revenue in 2012. Legalized in 1990, the most popular forms of gambling are docked riverboats and traditional casinos. And while Tunica/Lula is popular with tourists, it’s also a preferred spot for locals, in part because casino gambling is illegal in neighbouring Tennessee and Alabama.
Some of the area’s most popular casinos are Resorts Casino Tunica, Horseshoe Tunica Hotel and Casino, Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, Fitz Tunica Casino & Hotel, Gold Strike Casino Resort, Bally’s Casino Tunica, and the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Lula.
In addition to full-service resorts that are perfect for the entire family, Tunica is also part of the World Series of Poker Circuit.
9. The Poconos, Pennsylvania
Not just for honeymooners and giant-sized champagne flute hot tubes, the Pocono Mountains are also considered one of the country’s top gambling destinations. With gambling legalized in 2004, the Poconos has casinos and racetrack casinos with slots and game tables.
Mohegan Sun Pocono is one of the biggest gaming destinations in the region, with over 2,300 slot machines, more than 90 table games, and live harness racing. The 82,000-square-foot gaming floor also includes a high-limit slot room and a private player’s lounge. Also popular is the 188-room Mount Airy Casino and Resort with its 1,700 slot machines and 80+ table games.
8. Gulf Coast, Mississippi
In 2012, the Gulf Coast of Mississippi brought in $1.09 billion in revenue. The Gulf Coast casinos have been rebuilt since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and visitors are flocking back to casinos in Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis. In addition to the casinos on the Gulf Coast, the region is also home to 17 river casinos.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi has over 1,300 slots and 50 table games. Located on Lake Pontchartrain, the Treasure Chest Casino has nearly 1,000 slots and 36 table games. The Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots features 600 slot machines and on-site horse racing — it’s home to the Louisiana Derby — and also offers simulcast wagering at 11 facilities throughout southeast Louisiana.
Finally, Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel offers more than 800 slot and video poker machines and table games; it’s also just a short drive from over 20 golf courses and lots of shopping.
7. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri is located on the Mississippi River and is home to the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center, Kemp Auto Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, Delmar Loop shopping district, and the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis.
It is also home to a wide variety of different casinos. The River City Casino & Hotel has 200 rooms, over 2,000 slot machines, 55 table games, a poker room, a high-limit room, and a VIP lounge. It also has an Asian Casino Host Team to accommodate tourists visiting from the East.
The Ameristar Casino Resort Spa, Lumière Place Casino, Hollywood Casino, and St Louis Riverboat Casinos Hotel are other popular spots.
6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Over the last number of years, Philadelphia has emerged as one of the fastest-growing gambling areas in the country. The first of the area’s casinos was licensed in 2006.
The three casinos closest to downtown are the SugarHouse Casino, Parx Casino, and Harrah’s. These are all amazing facilities, but because they lack hotels, are only popular daytrip destinations. Sands, which is in Allentown, has a hotel, restaurant, and extensive shopping. Valley Forge Casino has a 486-room hotel; the 35,000-square-foot casino has 50 game tables and 600 slot machines. Horse racing is also popular in Philadelphia and accounts for most of the local gambling revenue.
And more locations are on the way. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently awarded a license to build the Philadelphia area’s fourth gambling hall and the 13th casino in the state. The $425-million project is expected to have 2,000 slot machines and electronic tables; 125 tables for blackjack, baccarat, and other games; a 240-room hotel; and several restaurants.
Location, location, location. Connecticut draws gambling aficionados from surrounding states, including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. In 2012, Connecticut brought in $1.23 billion from slot machines alone.
Mohegan Sun is a huge resort featuring three casinos, a hotel, a spa, a golf course, dining, shops, and entertainment. The Foxwood Resort Casino has four unique hotels, a spa, shopping, fine dining, 5,500 slot machines, over 300 table games, a 3,600-person bingo hall, the largest poker room on the East Coast, and 200 carrels for parimutuel wagering around the world. Visitors to Foxwood can also play on the number-one golf course in Connecticut.
4. Detroit, Michigan
Detroit may have filed for bankruptcy, but its casinos are doing well; in fact, Detroit brought in $1.417 billion in revenue in 2012. In an effort to revitalize the city, Michigan voters approved casino gambling in Detroit in 1996.
More specifically, voters specified that three (and no more than three) casinos could be built within the city limits. The three casinos — the MGM Grand, Greektown, and Motorcity — were built over the following years, becoming the first non-Indian casinos in Michigan.
Opened in October 2007, the MGM Grand Detroit is the first luxury casino resort hotel in a major metropolis outside of Las Vegas. The MGM Grand has a 400-plus-room hotel, restaurants, a spa, and entertainment. The 100,000 square feet of casino space has nearly 4,000 slots and video poker machines, 98 table games, and a poker room.
The 30-story, 400-room Greektown Casino Hotel tower opened in November 2007. The 100,000-square-foot gaming center has roughly 3,000 slots, a poker room, and blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat tables.
The Motorcity Casino opened in December of 1999. The $825-million complex includes a 400-room luxury hotel, six restaurants, a 13,000-square-foot spa, 67,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, and a 2,400-seat theatre. The 100,000-square-foot casino has approximately 3,000 slot machines, 60 table games, and two poker rooms.
3. Chicago, Illinois
The Greater Chicago area, including Indiana, is home to more than a dozen casinos, each one offering up something different.
For high rollers, there’s the 44,000-square-foot gaming floor at Rivers Casino. The casino has the highest table limits in Illinois, including a $100,000 maximum bet on mini baccarat. The 1,000-plus slots can be played in denominations, from one cent up to $1,000. Rivers Casino also offers 50 different table games, including blackjack, Spanish 21, craps featuring “Fire Bet,” roulette, baccarat featuring “Dragon Bonus Side Bet,” Mississippi stud, three-card poker, and pai gow poker. There is also a private, high-limit room with one lone blackjack table.
If poker’s more your style, you could try Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel. Located along the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Harrah’s Joliet’s has 200 premier rooms, five restaurants, and entertainment. In addition to over 1,100 slot machines and 31 table games, guests can enjoy Harrah’s Joliet’s over 200 video poker machines. Visitors can also get their poker fix in the WSOP Poker Room, where they play live Texas hold’em and Omaha games and host tournaments.
If high-end baccarat is more your style, you might want to visit the Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago. Located on Lake Michigan, the Ameristar Casino has a 15-story hotel with 288 rooms. The baccarat room comes complete with 12 games offering minimum bets of $10.00 and maximum bets of up to $10,000. Baccarat aside, the 56,000-square-foot casino, on four playing levels, has more than 1,700 slots and video poker games and 58 table games.
On the Indiana side of the border is the Horseshoe Hammond. The Horseshoe has the most slot machines in all of Chicagoland, including 1,500 penny slots. Those with deeper pockets can play slots up to $1,000.
For those serious about gaming, the Horseshoe Hammond has the highest limits, including $100,000 per hand on baccarat. The casino’s high-limit room includes $25,000 limits for blackjack and fortune pai gow poker and $100,000 maximums on handheld mini-baccarat. Two private gambling salons are also available.
The feng shui-designed Asian Gaming Area at the Horseshoe Casino includes 100 tables like pai gow tiles, baccarat, mini-baccarat “Dragon Bonus,” and EZ baccarat.
2. Atlantic City
Atlantic City has been the gambling center of the East Coast for more than 30 years. But because of the rise of regional gaming centres, Atlantic City has seen its popularity wane.
Four out of 12 Atlantic City casinos went out of business in 2014. The massive 47-story Revel, which cost more than $2.0 billion to build, shut down after just two years. The Showboat, Trump Plaza, and Atlantic Club have played their land hand. But those casinos that remain are attached to some of the most recognizable names in the industry.
Located at Boardwalk and Park Place, Bally’s Atlantic City consists of three casinos in one. Bally’s offers 1,251 hotel rooms, 13 restaurants, five lounges, one pool, a health spa, shops, and a family fun centre. The more than 185,000 square feet of gaming can be found in two casinos, Bally’s and The Wild Wild West. While there, you can try your luck with any of the 3,270 slot machines or more than 125 table games (blackjack, dice, roulette, ”Big Six,” mini-baccarat, pai gow tiles, Caribbean stud poker, three-card poker, and poker).
Located on the Frank S. Farley Marina, the Golden Nugget recently completed a $150-million renovation. With one of the largest casinos in Atlantic City, the Golden Nugget has everything under one roof: a 727-room hotel, a marina, seven restaurants, a spa, four bars, entertainment, and meeting and convention space. Over the 65,000 square feet of gaming on the main casino floor at the Golden Nugget, visitors will find everything, including 1,500 slots, blackjack, craps, roulette, and mini-baccarat. Those who like poker will enjoy ultimate Texas hold’em, flop poker, three-card poker, four-card poker, Mississippi stud poker, let it ride poker, and pai gow. There is also a high-limit slots room.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is a $1.1-billion destination resort located at Renaissance Pointe in the Marina District of Atlantic City. Borgata Atlantic City features 2,000 luxury guest rooms and suites, while the Borgata’s Event Center and The Music Box Theatre are listed on the list of the top 100 worldwide venues, having hosted the biggest names in entertainment history. It has a 54,000-square-foot spa, 11 specialty boutiques, 10 restaurants, and a number of bars. Top it off with a 161,000-square-foot casino floor with 4,100 slot machines and 200 table games. The Borgata poker room is the largest in Atlantic City and runs high-stake tournaments in conjunction with the World Poker Tour.
1. Las Vegas, Nevada (Las Vegas Strip)
Las Vegas may not be the biggest gambling destination in the world but it is the most prestigious. In 2013, 39.66 million people visited Las Vegas. It is also one of the most popular convention destinations; in 2013, Las Vegas hosted 22,027 conventions and 5.10 million delegates. All told, the Las Vegas strip brought in $6.5 billion in gaming revenue.
Because there are so many casinos in Las Vegas, it can be difficult to know where to start, or which ones to include.
It might not have the storied history of some casinos in Las Vegas, but Wynn Resorts is currently the one to beat, holding more Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards than any other independent hotel company in the world. The resort offers award-winning restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, two award-winning spas, salons, and luxury shopping. As for the casino, on the slots, you can drop a penny or $5,000; baccarat, $100–$15,000; blackjack, $15.00–$10,000; and mini-baccarat, $50.00–$10,000. The casino also has 26 poker tables and everything else you could imagine.
The Aria Resort and Casino contains 4,004 guest rooms and suites, 16 restaurants, 10 bars and nightclubs, a 215,000-square-foot pool area with 50 cabanas, an 80,000-square-foot salon and spa, a 300,000-square-foot convention centre, and a 1,800-seat theatre. The 150,000-square-foot casino has slots that will take a penny, dollar, or $5,000 bet. In addition to all the traditional table games, the Aria also hosts a high-limit table lounge, Salon Privé, where elite players from around the world enjoy a collection of high-end table games; every level of poker; and race and sports betting.
You may not be familiar with this last casino but its machines and the players’ club often take top honours in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Best of Vegas” survey. The Gold Coast Hotel & Casino has a 711-room hotel, nine restaurants that run from casual to fine dining, and an entertainment room. There’s $5.00–$2,000 blackjack, $5.00 pai gow, mini-baccarat ($10.00–$1,000), and even $1.00 roulette for low rollers.
Aside from these three however, other popular Las Vegas casinos and hotels include: Bellagio, Casino Royale, Caesars Palace, El Cortez Hotel & Casino, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Orleans, Palms, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Red Rock, Rio, Silverton, Treasure Island, Tropicana, and The Venetian, to name but a few.
It doesn’t matter what your game of choice or skill level, Las Vegas has it!
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