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HOME > > Top 10 favorite casinos not located in Las Vegas

Top 10 favorite casinos not located in Las Vegas

22 November 2021

By Gary Trask

There’s no denying that Las Vegas is truly the casino capital of the world. A few recent trips to Sin City most certainly reconfirmed that notion for me, but over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit plenty of other casino properties, many of which would fit right in if they were dropped right smack in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.

Below are 10 of my favorite non-Las Vegas casino resorts, ranging from Florida to Mississippi to Atlantic City to the Northeast and all the way across the pond to the U.K.

The criteria was simple. Sure, I love to hit the table games, play some poker and plop down some sports wagers at a sportsbook, but the gambling part of the equation is not the end all, be all. When visiting a casino, I like to have plenty of other activities and amenities to enjoy, both on property and in the near vicinity.

I’m confident these 10 casinos check all of those boxes and more, and we start in one of my favorite destinations in the U.S., the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

10. IP Casino Resort and Spa
I’ve written multiple times in the past about my fondness of Coastal Mississippi, a destination I have been fortunate enough to visit at least a dozen times over the years. There really isn’t a better place in the U.S. to lock in a trip if you love casino gambling, golf, beaches, music, seafood and BBQ. Not to mention the welcoming nature of the people in this region of the country. Yes, “southern hospitality” is not a myth. It’s real.

So, it will come as no surprise that today’s list is bookended by two Mississippi Gulf Coast properties, beginning with The IP, which always offers an electric atmosphere.

Located about 1.5 miles from the Gulf Coast and sitting on the banks of the Back Bay of Biloxi, the expansive 32-story Boyd Gaming property features beautiful views, casinos on two floors, a nice mix of cocktail lounges, as well as a FanDuel-powered sportsbook and poker room.

Must See/Do: thirty-two



Named for its location perched on the 32nd floor, IP’s signature restaurant offers a menu of mouth-watering steak, chicken, salads and locally caught seafood that matches the spectacular views. It is also a perennial recipient of the esteemed AAA Four Diamond rating and the wine list is off the charts, as seen by its honor of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 2020.

9. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
I’m a sucker for the vibe of all Hard Rock venues. There’s just something about being surrounded by the cool memorabilia from iconic musicians/bands and the constant stream of hip music that makes a visit more memorable. And when you combine that with the serene setting of Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa, Florida, it’s a home run.

The casino completed a substantial renovation in 2017 that added a very unique, 26,000 square-foot Mezzanine Level Casino that is easy on the eyes, with 14,000-square-feet of Italian marble. There is also a large smoke-free gaming area and one of the better Center Bar areas I’ve visited with plenty of TVs and a vibrant atmosphere. When I stayed at the casino a few years ago, one of the highlights was my meal at The Rez Grill, which features American fare from the kitchen’s Jade wood-burning grill.

There is also the 26,000 square-foot Rock Spa & Salon, and expansive pool and cabana area and plenty of other attractions and restaurants in nearby downtown Tampa Bay.

Must See/Do: Poker Room

The set-up at Seminole’s poker room really caters to the players’ needs. First off, the room is huge with 46 tables. It’s non-smoking, but has an outdoor covered area for the smokers to get their fix in during breaks. Since most poker players are also sports fans, the room is equipped with 40 TVs, including six 75-inch TVs and four 65-inch TVs.

There is dedicated parking for poker players in a separate garage and a convenient snack bar area, so you don’t have to leave the room if you get hungry. There is also a high-limit lounge, with two VIP tables, and a robust daily schedule of tournaments that is attractive to all levels of players. It’s no wonder why the World Poker Tour makes regular stops here that attract big-name players every year.

8. Foxwoods Resort Casino
Foxwoods gets bonus points for me since it was the first casino I ever visited. I really had no idea what to expect as we made the scenic drive from my home in the Boston area to the woods of Connecticut way back in 1993, but I’ll never forget how blown away I was when we arrived to the property.

Foxwoods is one of the largest casinos in the world. It opened in 1986 with only a bingo hall to its name, but after adding table games in 1992 and slot machines in 1993, the property became the largest resort casino in the Northern Hemisphere, with over nine million square feet of space. Today, Foxwoods boasts 47 restaurants, three bars and four hotels with 2,061 rooms. The poker room is huge, with over 150 tables, and the resort regularly hosts big name entertainment acts. Fun fact: Both Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti performed at Foxwoods back in the early 1990s.

The resort has also added an array of non-gaming amenities in recent years, such as a zip line, a brewery, bowling alley, virtual reality experiences, kart racing and outlet shopping.

And, of course, just recently, mobile and online sports betting launched in the Nutmeg State, leading to last week’s opening of a new DraftKings Sportsbook. Yes, we’ll be seeing you soon, Foxwoods!

Must See/Do: Lake of Isles

The golf course complex at Foxwoods, located directly across the street from the casino, is breathtaking. Ranked the No. 1 course in Connecticut by multiple golf magazines, there are two Rees Jones Signature layouts — North Course is open to the public, while South Course is for members only — spread out over 900 acres of scenic woodland and the centerpiece is a 90-acre lake, thus the name of the venue.

7. Mohegan Sun
Take a 15-minute drive west from the gargantuan Foxwoods Resort and you’ll run straight into Mohegan Sun, which provides a more intimate setting, but is still relatively large with over 364,000 square feet of gaming space on 240 acres along Connecticut’s Thames River.

Mohegan Sun opened in 1996 and I remember at the time that many observers thought two casino resorts within a 10-mile radius could never co-exist. Well, here we are 25 years later and not only are Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun thriving and expanding, but they have done so with increased competition in nearby Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania, not to mention Atlantic City.
The Mohegan Tribe has been very active over the years in adding new activities and amenities to the property, and now features its own golf course, an Escape Room Experience, the 19,000 square-foot Mandara Spa and a wide selection of shopping options.

Mohegan Sun also regularly draws A-List entertainment acts and sporting events to the Mohegan Sun Arena, which seats 10,000. In 2016, The Earth Tower, a 400-room, 242,000 square-foot hotel was unveiled, and today the resort offers over 1,500 guest rooms and suites overall.

Must See/Do: GAME ON

With the recent addition to sports betting at Mohegan Sun, this 23,000 square-foot facility is a perfect spot to watch and bet on the games, with an eight-lane bowling alley, 15 hi-def screens, karaoke, shuffleboard, corn hole, darts, nostalgic and modern arcade games, pool tables and live entertainment. The 65-foot bar has a wide variety of craft beer selections and the menu has classic “sports bar” favorites like flatbreads, wings, nachos and sliders.

6. Ocean Resort Casino
It’s only fitting that the next two casinos are listed back to back since they opened on the same gorgeous June day back in 2018 on the Atlantic City boardwalk with a grand opening celebration that was indeed “grand.”

The glimmering Ocean Resort Casino, previously the Revel Casino Hotel, stands in at 6.4 million square feet with a 138,000 square-foot casino and offers 16 restaurants/bars and 1,399 guest rooms. It is the tallest structure in Atlantic City and the second-tallest in New Jersey at 710 feet and 60 stories high.

Remember the old days when casinos didn’t want you to see the day of light? Well, Ocean Resort Casino does a 180-degree turn on that philosophy with floor-to-ceiling windows nearly everywhere, taking advantage of the magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Since opening, the resort has seemingly not stopped adding amenities and offerings.

In April, on the heels of debuting The Cove high-limit slot experience and a new private luxury gaming suite called The Loft, Ocean introduced a new high-limit table games venue, and two new guest lounges. In October, the resort announced a reinvestment of more than $75 million over the next year and will begin construction on 12 floors of the hotel, adding 360 guest rooms and nearly 100 suites.

Must See/Do: Topgolf Swing Suite

While the outdoor Topgolf’s are preferable to most, especially the flagship venue in Las Vegas, there have been a number of indoor Topgolf suites open at casinos in the past few years and the one at Ocean Resort is one of the more expansive indoor choices.

Much like the rest of the resort, the 26,000 square foot space takes advantage of the ocean views. It’s perched on the second floor and with 11 hitting bays, laser-technology virtual putting green and a comfortable bar with multiple TVs, it’s truly a great spot to spend multiple hours when you want to take a break from the casino or sportsbook.

5. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Atlantic City
About 600 paces away from Ocean Resort, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is located on the site of the former Trump Taj Mahal. While it is smaller than its counterpart at around four million square feet, the casino space is larger at over 167,000 square feet and the number of food and beverage offerings is staggering. And, of course, there is a ton of great musical memorabilia everywhere you turn and an endless stream of great music, creating an always-hip vibe.

Like Ocean Resort, the Hard Rock is also spending a pretty penny to enhance its offerings. Earlier this year, it was announced that the property would put $20 million toward renovations, including the opening of a new Starbucks, additional slots and table games, a new dining outlet and a refresh of beachfront amenities, but the bulk of the investment will go towards renovating 66 Celebrity and 25 Roxy suites. Also, all of the standard guest rooms have been improved with new flatscreen television monitors and LED lighting.

Must See/Do: Council Oak Steaks & Seafood



Casinos are typically famous for their steakhouses and Council Oak, which also has a location at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, ranks right up there with one of the best I’ve visited.

Love the open-air, fire-burning kitchen, the attentive service and classy presentation of food, as well as the great selection of wines available. Go ahead and order the Skirt Steak with Chimichurria sauce and thank me later.

4. MGM National Harbor
After attending the grand opening of this stunning 23-acre, $1.4 billion property located in Maryland, about a 20-minute ride from Washington D.C., back in 2018, I wrote that I was “blown away” by its “elegance, unique attributes and attention to detail.”

After making a return trip to the casino over the summer, I stand by my original assessment.

MGM National Harbor was built with the concept in mind that not everything at a casino has to be about gambling. Sure, there is a 125,000 square-foot casino floor, the second largest in the MGM family behind MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, a lively 37-table poker room that is seemingly always busy, and a recently added outdoor gaming terrace.

And let’s not forget that with Maryland inching closer and closer to becoming the next state to officially launch sports betting, MGM National Harbor is ready to roll after opening the 8,000-square-foot BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge, featuring a 360-degree halo screen projecting games in all directions and a 110-foot wraparound screen, extending the length of the space, as well as seven betting windows.

But, in my mind, the star of the show at MGM National Harbor is the non-gaming amenities, like the The Spa at MGM National Harbor, a lavish 27,000-square-foot oasis, and the eclectic choice of restaurants, especially the “upscale casual dining” offerings at the National Market area where an open floor plan offers everything from New York-style slices from Zizi's Pizza, a “local favorite” crab cake from Pappa's to a poke bowl from Bento Sushi Bar.

There is also an intimate 3,000-seat entertainment venue that has hosted numerous A-List acts, with upcoming shows including Bruno Mars, Boyz II Men and Alicia Keys, as well as a host of comedy acts, boxing matches, UFC events and functions and meetings.

Must See/Do: Potomac Plaza

Continuing with the non-gaming amenity theme, I absolutely love the vast Potomac Plaza outdoor area where you can take in some staggering views of the Washington Monument, National Mall, Potomac River and Old Town Alexandria.

The plaza has water fountains, fire pits and tables for one of the property's signature restaurants, TAP Sports Bar, which has over 70 TVs and a fantastic outdoor patio area on the Potomac Plaza.

3. Encore Boston Harbor
As a Boston native, the opening of Encore Boston Harbor was something all of us casino enthusiasts here in Massachusetts thought would never happen.

We all found out the wait was well worth it when Encore, a stunning $2.6 billion Wynn Resorts property located just outside Boston city limits in Everett, finally welcomed guests in June 2019.
There were no shortcuts taken when it comes to the design and amenities of this resort. The attention to detail is amazing, even though the resort is 3.1 million square feet and was built in just 36 months. The 671 “standard” guest rooms are more like junior suites. There are world-class restaurants (personal favorite is Fratelli, an Italian masterpiece) and a night club called Mémoire that features a $2 million sound system.

As for gaming, there’s two levels of casino floor totaling 210,000 square feet. The poker room, which originally opened with a staggering 88 tables, is scheduled to reopen with less tables in early 2022. As for sports betting, Massachusetts continues to drag its feet with legislation, but Encore is more than ready to roll when/if a bill is passed after opening the impressive WynnBET Sport Bar in September, while also adding two more dining venues, including a much-needed bar with video poker inside the new Shake Shack.

The price point at Encore isn’t for everyone. You’ll pay Las Vegas Strip-type prices for drinks and food and the table limits are typically high. But the property is stunning and the remarkable towers with the iconic Wynn bronze color are a welcome sight to the Boston skyline.

Must See/Do: The Spa at Encore Boston Harbor

Like the rest of the Encore Boston Harbor, the beauty of the spa will stop you in your tracks.

The 19,000 square foot venue, which just recently returned to being open seven days a week, screams tranquility everywhere you look, with its European furnishings, marble floors and lanterns. There are two plunge pools, spacious “quiet areas” and an expansive menu of treatments to choose from. It’s really the ideal “get-away-from-it-all” setting.

2. The Hippodrome Casino London



The lone international property on the list, Hippodrome instantly became a personal favorite when I got a chance to visit it back in 2018 while attending the annual ICE London gaming show.

Located in the vibrant Leicester Square in the west end of London, this place is dripping with history. The London Hippodrome opened in 1900 the first show to take the stage debuted a little-known actor by the name of Charlie Chaplin, joining a long list of familiar names to perform inside these walls, including Harry Houdini, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, Prince, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Stevie Wonder. Reminders of these appearances are scattered all over the casino.

What I really love about The Hippodrome is the towering design, starting in the basement with Lola's, an old-school casino space, and rising all the way up to the PokerStars Poker Rooms and recently-renovated fourth and fifth floor roof terraces, where guests can eat, drink, smoke and play table games. Also new to the property is The Gods casino floor, located at the very top of the building, overlooking the main casino floor.

We’re told in the very near future a new cocktail bar will be created and there will also be an extended ground-floor gaming area with a Chinese food court and a “speak easy” bar.

Must See/Do: Heliot Steak House

The casino’s signature restaurant, named after Claire Heliot, one of the early performers at The Hippodrome in the 1900s whose act included feeding raw meat to 14 lions, is a 100-seat venue that overlooks the main casino floor. It was voted the best steakhouse in London by Bookatable, and three years later I still vividly remember my NY strip topped with chargrilled king prawn. On my return visit (yes, there will be one someday), I’m hoping the Millionaire’s Mac & Cheese, topped with a poached duck egg and black truffle, is still on the menu so I can give it a try, although I’ve been warned Executive Chef Ioannis Grammenos revises the menu every three months.

1. Beau Rivage Resort & Casino

I’ve had the pleasure of staying at “The Beau,” as it is fondly called by locals, numerous times and it never gets old pulling into the classy Porte cochêre, surrounded by a waterfall and azaleas, walking into the atrium lobby, full of fresh begonias, daisies and hydrangea, to begin your visit.

Beau Rivage, which fittingly means “beautiful shore” in French, truly has it all. Let’s start with the year-round optimal weather, which allows you to get out and explore all that this area has to offer. The resort is situated directly overlooking the pristine 62 miles of beach found on Coastal Mississippi, offering amazing vistas from all over the property, particularly the sprawling pool deck.

Then there is the fantastic choice of dining options at The Beau, with most of them offering up the mouth-watering choice of seafood in the area. Eight75 (the resort’s street address is 875 Beach Boulevard) is at the top of my list of favorite casino bars – and, believe me, I have visited my share of them – with its live entertainment, delicious cocktails and "people-watching" view of the casino floor. The poker room is active and routinely hosts tournaments and for sports bettors, the BetMGM Book Bar & Grill has dozens of TVs, a “focal bar” with flex back seating and video poker machines, and a VIP lounge area. Just last week, BetMGM launched mobile sports betting for guests to use while on property.

There’s even a state-of-the-art baseball stadium, MGM Park, located directly across the street that is the home field of the Biloxi Shuckers, the Double A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Must See/Do: Fallen Oak

Fallen Oak, located a short, 20-minute ride away from Beau Rivage, is on the short list of my all-time favorite golf courses and I’m not alone since it's perennially ranked as the No. 2 casino golf course (behind its sister course in Las Vegas, Shadow Creek) in the U.S. and in the top 100 overall by Golfweek magazine.

A round a Fallen Oak is first class from start to finish, beginning with a limo ride to the course, the private locker room service and amazing practice area. The course was designed by Tom Fazio and regularly hosts a PGA Champions Tour event each spring and is annually lauded by the pro players, caddies and media that attend.

After your round, the 19th Hole clubhouse and bar is one of the best I’ve ever experienced (again, I’ve visited my fair share!). The sunken down bar overlooks the 18th hole where you can see the actual fallen oak tree that the course is named after, just off the fairway. And it doesn’t hurt that they serve an out-of-this-world Bloody Mary that is made with vodka infused for exactly six days with garlic, herbs, tomatoes, peppers and other spices and sits in a big vat on top of the bar.

 
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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