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Best Bets

Casino Player experts reveal some of their favorite casinos


Next month, Casino Player magazine reveals the winners for the 2017 Best Of Gaming awards. As a warm-up to that grand issue, we decided to offer up some of our own expert picks of favorite casinos in various regions across the country, and award them for being exceptional. Here are our selections for Best Bets.




Ridgefield, Washington

Located on a 156-acre site in La Center, Washington, ilani, developed by the Cowlitz Tribe and Salishan- Mohegan, a partnership that includes Mohegan Sun, one of the world’s foremost gaming and entertainment developers and operators, is the West Coast’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination. With 368,000 total square feet, ilani includes 100,000 square feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables; 15 different restaurants, bars and retail outlets; and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue hosting nationally recognized performances.


ilani is a getaway from the everyday with everything from casual to gourmet dining. At ilani, Michael Jordan’s Steak House offers a dining experience driven by the unmatched global power of the Michael Jordan brand. Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap delivers the best of the local waters right to the table for guests to enjoy and at Rose & Thorn six ‘al pastor’ spindles are incorporated into one end of the main bar where hand-carved-to-order meats sizzle over an open flame. Looking for something more casual? The Food Market at ilani incorporates the beloved farm to table environment of the Pacific Northwest with quick grab options such as salads and sandwiches from Butcher & Baker, Asian cuisine from Chef Jet, burgers and Häagen Dazs hand-spun shakes from Smashburger and more!

Entertainment and Nightlife

Grab a cocktail with friends and enjoy free, live entertainment at Muze as some of the hottest performers take the intimate stage. Amazing cocktails can also be found at the 360 Bar located in the very center of the gaming floor. Feel the energy from ilani’s unique imagery, including the towering salmon tornado and fishing baskets; a design projecting the culture of the Northwest and paying tribute to the heritage of the Cowlitz Tribe. Guests looking to take a break from the nightlife can browse ilani’s three retail outlets including Marshall Rousso, Ruby Blue and The Cowlitz Trading Post.



ilani’s premier 100,000 square-foot gaming floor has something for everyone. There are more than 2,500 slot machines and 75 table games, including favorites like blackjack, roulette, midi baccarat, craps and pai gow poker. New to gaming or a particular game? ilani dealers and stall are always ready and willing to oller advice and teach you how the game is played. Unable to make it to the property? Play online casino games with ilani! The Play4Fun Casino site ollers visitors the excitement of casino slots right on the web.

ilani is a $500 million destination which opened to the public on April 24. To learn more about ilani, visit and follow ilani on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Durant, Oklahoma

This four-diamond property is the pride of the Choctaw Nation and only a short drive from Dallas-Fort Worth. With a cool vibe and relaxed atmosphere, the casino is a great spot for a Lone Star or Sooner State getaway. A stay in the Grand Tower or the new Spa Tower offers luxurious rooms with numerous amenities. For some added relaxation, make your way to the spa for a facial, mani/pedi, or a great massage.

When you’re ready to gamble, head for the 218,000- square foot gaming floor, which features more than 4,100 slots of every denomination and table games with all the favorites including craps, blackjack, let it ride, and more. The casino also recently expanded its Asian game area for fans of baccarat and pai gow.

Poker rounders will be delighted with the comfortable 30-table room with games of all varieties and limits. Choctaw has become a major player in recent years and along with hosting daily tournaments and promotions, also hosts major tournament series such as the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker-Circuit.

Hungry? For a great meal, check out Butterfields Buffet for numerous delectable options. Or for something a bit grander, check out 1832 Steakhouse for a great chop and cocktail. On Tuesday through Saturday evenings, pianist John Emery sets the mood with classics from artists such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Numerous others casual and quick serve dining options abound such as Bamboo Noodle Bar, Blue Moon Cafe, and Jackpot Java for a gourmet coffee or snack.

Ready for some more fun? Mosey on over to the world-famous Gilley’s for a drink and some Western dancing. Or take in a concert at the 3,000-seat Grand Theater or 5,500 Events Center. So get tickets for Jake Owen, on Friday, September 1 at the Choctaw Grand Theater for that extra special night out. The property also offers plenty of excitement for families at the District entertainment zone – including bowling, an arcade, movie theater, two-story laser tag facility, movie theater, sports bar, and food court. Choctaw Casino Resort – Durant has something for any type of getaway. For more information visit


Scottsdale, Arizona

The Four-Diamond Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a haven for fun and excitement. World class gaming, luxurious guest rooms, gourmet dining, first-rate entertainment, and a state-of-the-art spa wait to satisfy your every whim.

Bursting with creature comforts and contemporary appointments, deluxe guest rooms exude a relaxing ambiance that melds Southwest style with modern air. Each spacious room boasts distinguishing features, such as floor-to-ceiling windows, complimentary wireless Internet access, countless premium in-room amenities and patio areas or balconies with stunning views of the Camelback and McDowell mountains. This oasis is no mirage.

Offering more than 240,000 square feet of gaming space, the casino floor offers more than 800 multi-denominational slot machines, including the hottest new games like Plants vs Zombies 3D – Ancient Egypt and House of Cards. Not to mention a large array of penny slots, video poker, table games, poker and keno.

Speaking of keno, it just keeps getting better at both Talking Stick Resort and sister property Casino Arizona in Scottsdale. The new Progressive Mega Keno is your chance to win up to $50,000 or more! How it works: when you purchase your ticket, add a Progressive Mega Keno wager to each set of numbers. If a certain amount of your numbers match, you’ll win a cash prize. If all of them match, you’ll cash in on the progressive jackpot! It’s that easy.

And be sure to join the Player Rewards Club to receive bonuses just for playing your favorite games. Player Rewards Club offers members a range of valuable benefits, including entries into the monthly giveaways and drawings, free play, dining discounts, exclusive tournament and event offers and access to exciting amenities at Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona.

Talking Stick is also home to Arizona’s largest poker room, known as The Arena. Favorites like Texas hold’em, Omaha and seven-card stud, as well as daily, weekly and monthly tournaments, are featured. On top of that, there are plenty of jackpots and giveaways happening all the time.

Being caught up in this whirlwind of excitement, you’re bound to get hungry. The culinary experts at Talking Stick Resort work tirelessly to ensure that visiting guests have a wide range of dining experiences to choose from. With an eye on every detail, all five restaurants have been designed for optimal comfort and to satisfy all dining preferences.

Last but not least, the plethora of amenities. These include: five entertainment lounges, 24-hour in room hotel dining service, two hotel pools with poolside cabana rentals, a 650-seat showroom with regular live entertainment, an on-site florist, barber shop, 24-hour hotel fitness center, concierge service, dry cleaning and valet laundry service, on-site rental car service, adjacent golf course and full-service spa.

With so much to do, it doesn’t matter whether you booked a relaxing getaway vacation or are in town for a business conference event, Talking Stick has got it all. For more about all that Talking Stick Resort has to offer visit


Santa Ynez, California

Tucked into the hills of the Santa Barbara wine country, Chumash Casino Resort invites you to endless fun with its world-class gaming and entertainment. The one-of-a-kind destination is an ideal getaway for those looking to strike a balance between riveting action and total relaxation.

Stepping onto the casino floor, you immediately sense the excitement of the property, with 2,300 thrilling slot machines, 45 Vegas-style games, a high-limit room with table games and personalized service, a state-of-the-art poker room and weekly bingo sessions in a smoke-free setting. There’s usually a monthly promotion or specialty game happening, so you’re always in for a little bonus fun whenever you visit.

For live entertainment, there’s the Samala Showroom, where a wide range of today’s big names and newcomers perform every week. This summer includes shows from country artist Chris Janson, international band, Los Tigres Del Norte and funny man Tim Allen and many more.

If you’re seeking a more tranquil experience, take advantage of the luxury amenities at the resort. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the rooftop pool, lounge in the cabanas and get lost in the panoramic views of vineyards and rolling hills from the 15,000-square-foot pool deck. Treat yourself at the spa, with an extensive menu of services ranging from traditional Chumash healing massages and herbal body wraps to reinvigorating facials and polished pedicures.

When your stomach starts growling, there’s a variety of dining options across the resort. Savor mouthwatering steaks and seafood, along with local and imported wines, in an elegant atmosphere at the Four-Diamond rated Willows restaurant. Keep meals casual but delicious with comfort food in the café, or feast on international cuisine with the all-you-can-eat buffet. Then grab a cocktail to cap off the night at one of five bars.

Wind down in a comfortable guestroom in the AAA Four-Diamond 12-story resort tower. The recently expanded tower includes more than 300 stylish rooms, including 58 suites where you’ll fall asleep on plush bedding and wake up reenergized by exquisite views of Santa Ynez Valley.

If you want to explore the local area, tour the quaint, Danish village of Solvang via horse-drawn trolley. Grab a bite at one of the eateries in Los Olivos, or visit a vineyard and winery to learn about the wine-making process.

Whether you’re looking for a jammed-packed weekend, some time to slow down and disconnect or a mixture of activity and leisure, you’ll discover a winning vacation at Chumash Casino Resort. For more information, visit


Las Vegas, Nevada

When visiting the Las Vegas Strip, you can’t miss the iconic Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower – conveniently located in the middle of all the casino action and excitement! The sprawling 80,000 sq. ft. casino features Crapless Craps, Double Twist Blackjack, the latest popular and themed table games and slot machines, plus a newly renovated Race & Sportsbook.

To take advantage of all the benefits, make sure you sign up for your player’s card at the ace l PLAY Center when you arrive. ace l PLAY was voted Best Players Club in the 2016 Las Vegas Review Journal Readers’ Poll, and the Stratosphere is proud to have received this well-deserved recognition, as well as over 20 other awards property- wide. Members can choose how they redeem their points; for cash, slot play and/or comps. At the Stratosphere, both slots and table games players are recognized and rewarded for their play. Some benefits include: restaurant and show discounts, every day point multipliers, “follow me” points, room upgrades, VIP services, dividends, host services, prize giveaways, cash drawings and special invitations to exclusive VIP events and tournaments. It’s easy to move up levels in ace l PLAY and the benefits increase as you do. Most players move from ace l PLAY blue to ace l PLAY orange in their first visit. Plus, show your players club card from another Las Vegas Strip casino and they’ll tell you how you can qualify for an upgrade.

There is no shortage of exciting themed tournaments and promotions at the Stratosphere. ace l PLAY members receive invitations to daily slot tournaments, plus are eligible for exclusive high stakes blackjack and table game tournaments and invitation-only slot tournaments with large top prizes. Upcoming tournaments include the $25,000 Aloha Slot tournament and a $15,000 Blackjack Tournament with guaranteed prize money. Special VIP players receive exclusive invitations to other events as well, such as golf outings, concerts, cruise voucher giveaways and dinner & wine pairing events. For more information on ace l PLAY, visit Stratosphere- To learn how to become a VIP invite player, email

At the Stratosphere, casino players from all over the world enjoy the complete array of entertainment, amenities, dining and nightlife one would expect from a Vegas Strip casino resort… and then some! For more information, visit:


Waterloo, New York

Wherever you’re coming from, however long you plan to stay, there’s only one destination in the Finger Lakes region that gives you everything you expect, and then some. The del Lago Resort Casino situated in Waterloo, New York, now features a 205 room hotel.

These luxurious rooms range from 440 to 860 square feet, have beds more comfy than home and comes with services that make everyone feel like a high roller. Of those 205 rooms, 130 of them are king rooms, 75 are queen rooms and 11 rooms feature balconies. There are also 30 suites, which can be expanded to 1,400 square feet, to feature two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

At first glance, the style of the hotel is the perfect blend of modern, elegance, and technology and allows for a guest experience like no other in the region. The hotel features what patrons would expect: a hair dryer, at screen television, refrigerator, safe and coffee maker. Those are the things people expect to see in any hotel room, but del Lago doesn’t stop there.

The bathrooms feature the same seam-lessness that is showcased throughout the rooms. They have one continuous floor, throughout the stand-up shower, and into the rest of the space, as well as a unique “sliding” wood and glass door feature that is unlike anything seen in traditional hotels. Flawless stone tiling, marble counters, rain shower heads that are adjustable, weight scales and bath robes are more examples of premium experience.

Need a bite to eat? How about an extra towel or blanket? There’s an app for that. No really — del Lago Resort Casino is the first in the region to utilize an iPad hotel directory system. Guests can order food, housekeeping, or practically anything else they desire from the iPad placed next the beds. Tech takes stress out of the stay for guests.

So, what’s your game? Whether it’s the fun of the slots or the excitement you only find at the gaming tables, del Lago has the action you’re looking for. From penny slots to the high limit room, there are 1,960 of the most popular slot machines to choose from, and no matter your preference, excitement can be found all throughout the casino floor.

Seasoned veterans or players just sitting down to experience something new will find a game that fits their interests and betting level. With 99 tables, including 14 poker tables, blackjack, craps and roulette, you’ll find all the favorites plus discover some new exciting games. No other casino in the region boasts this many table games!

Speaking of tables, there’s always room at any one of over five of del Lagos fine dining restaurants and eateries. Taste the difference at these notable establishments.

Portico: Bask in the warm glow of hospitality paired with exceptional cuisine. Premium steaks cooked to juicy perfection, the most succulent seafood and fresh pastas are the hallmarks of success at Portico by Fabio Viviani.

Farmers Market Buffet: The finest locally sourced produce, fruits, dairy products, meats and more play a starring role in this bountiful buffet. Fill up on a wide variety of comfort foods served in a friendly atmosphere where you’ll always feel “at home”.

Smashburger: Connecting America’s passion for its favorite food on a local level and dedication to crafting the best-tasting burger around, Smashburger is like no other burger joint. The smashed burgers are always made-to-order, never frozen, smashed and seared to perfection. Delicious!

del Lago Casino Resort is the Finger Lakes area’s newest addition to the community. With all the thrills of gaming, restaurants and live entertainment, plus the experiences of relaxation in the hotel and spa, it is well worth the trip. For more information about del Lago Casino Resort, or to plan a visit go to www.


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