Casino Best of Gaming 2010
Our annual rundown of the casinos, hotels, amenities and games our readers have declared the best in the business
For years, there has been one class of customer that casino resorts have particularly strived to please. One type of customer casino whose opinions are valued the most. One type of customer for whom they do their best.
That would be you, the readers of Casino Player magazine.
For the past 15 years, the most-watched opinions in the casino business have been those given to us by you every year in our annual Best of Gaming survey. Early this year, we asked for your opinions on what you think are the best casinos, the best hotels, the best overall resort experiences, the best slots and the best table games in the industry.
As always, our readers have come through with flying colors. Welcome to Best of Gaming 2010, the 15th annual survey of the best the world of casino resorts has to offer, according to the real experts—our devoted readers.
The following report gives our readers’ takes on the best in each region of North America in the way of the games we play and the places we stay. As usual, there were a lot of return winners but also some surprises—proving that any casino’s reign atop a particular category can come to an end, whether it’s due to a rival property’s spectacular new steakhouse, golf course, hotel rooms, or their revamped players club or renewed focus on customer service.
The executives of casino resorts recognize the value of this survey. Just travel any highway in a casino town and you’ll see evidence of this: billboards heralding the Best of Gaming awards that properties have won. You’ll see it in the pages of this and other magazines as well, as the resorts buy space to shout out that our readers consider them to be the best.
That’s because the folks who run the casinos know that Casino Player’s readers are the most knowledgeable and savvy of the aficionados devoted to this particular leisure activity.
You, too, can trust the collective judgment of our readers when you take your next casino trip. If a casino, a hotel, a spa, a nightclub, a restaurant, a brand of slot machine or a video poker game has risen to the top of our Best of Gaming survey, you won’t be disappointed if you follow our readers’ advice.
So enjoy this year’s Best of Gaming survey. Show it to your friends; use it as a guide to gaming’s best bets. Thanks to all our readers for making this annual study a success, and make sure to come back next year to make your opinions known once again.
The casinos will once again pay attention, and the entire industry will be better for it.
Best Overall Gaming Resort
This category is the equivalent of the “Best Picture” award at the Oscars. Many of last year’s “Best Overall” winners extended their winning streaks into 2010; one repeat winner that was entirely expected was Borgata in Atlantic City, which raised the bar for the market when it opened and has refused to allow its competitors to catch up. Another win we saw coming was Beau Rivage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which continues to raise the bar for luxury and amenities in its market.
In Las Vegas, we saw a mix of recurring favorites and surprise winners—such as the Rio beating Sam’s Town in the Las Vegas Locals category. Among downtown properties, however, Golden Nugget notched another consecutive win. Its combination of class, great customer service and various unique amenities—including a $30 million pool complex with a shark tank—puts the Nugget in a league of its own.
On the Las Vegas Strip, we saw another unexpected win as Bellagio reclaimed first place. This world-class resort had ruled this category for many years, until Caesars Palace took over in 2007 and 2008, followed by Harrah’s in 2009. When Steve Wynn dreamt up Bellagio all those years ago, he truly created a resort for the ages.
Atlantic City 1. Borgata 2 Taj Mahal 3 Harrah’s Atlantic City Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip2 Casino Queen 3 Empress Joliet Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Motor City 3 MGM Grand Detroit Florida 1 Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Seminole Hard Rock Tampa 3 Isle Pompano Park Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 IP Biloxi 3 Hard Rock Biloxi Iowa 1 Ameristar Council Bluffs 2 Horseshoe Council Bluffs 3 Isle Bettendorf Lake Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget 2 Four Queens 3 Fremont Las Vegas Locals 1 Rio 2 Red Rock Casino 3 Palms Las Vegas Strip 1 Bellagio 2 Caesars Palace 3 Venetian Laughlin 1 Harrahs Laughlin 2 Riverside Laughlin 3 Tropicana Express Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Mt. Airy Resort Casino 3 Harrah’s Chester Missouri 1 Ameristar St. Charles 2 Harrah’s Kansas City 3 Lumiere Place Native Mid West 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Four Winds 3 Grand Casio Hinkley Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee 2 Silver Star 3 Golden Moon Native West Harrah’s Rincon 2 Valley View Casino 3 Fantasy Springs New Orleans, LA & Vicksburg, MS 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Ameristar Vicksburg 3 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg Racinos 1 Wheeling Island 2 Mountaineer 3 Meadows Racetrack Reno 1 Atlantis 2 Grand Sierra 3 Peppermill Shreveport/Bossier City 1 Diamond Jack’s 2 Horseshoe Bossier City 3 Eldorado Shreveport Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg
2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Belterra Tunica 1 Gold Strike Tunica 2 Hollywood Tunica 3 Horseshoe Tunica
Best Cruise Line
Best Caribbean Casino
The winners of these two exotic categories invite you to gamble in paradise. Norwegian Cruise Line, based in Miami, Florida, sets sail for destinations including Hawaii, Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, the Panama Canal and the Far East. When you’re not soaking up some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, you can play your favorite games just as you would in a land-based casino. (NCL even has its own slot club, with credit lines available.) For higher-end guests, onboard accommodations range up to penthouse and suites with private balconies and whirlpools.
You can bring the whole family since NCL offers a “Kid’s Crew” program, which keeps the little ones busy with fun activities while you enjoy time with your spouse, or in the casino. Because there are “freestyle” cruises, you can dine whenever you want—and stay fit with NCL’s LifeStyle Program, which invites you to participate in onshore excursions, art auctions, health-and-wellness programs, and cooking demonstrations.
In our Best Caribbean Casino category, the magnificent Atlantis once again won first place. Located on the stunning Paradise Island in the Bahamas, this massive resort complex is themed in the spirit of the mythical “lost continent” under the sea. Inside, you’ll find the biggest casino in the Caribbean, as well as sexy nightlife and a variety of restaurants.
But you won’t want to spend too much time indoors. At Atlantis, you’re only steps away from some of the world’s most pristine beaches, as well as a pool complex and Marina Village, an outdoor district of shops and restaurants. The resort’s various towers house hundreds of luxurious rooms and suites, with top VIPs staying in the gigantic Bridge Suite—a “mansion in the sky” that occupies the archway between the Royal Tower’s east and west wings.
Best Caribbean Casino
1 Atlantis Paradise Island
2 Crystal Palace, Nassau
Best Cruise Line
1 Norwegian Cruise Line
2 Royal Caribbean
3 Princess Cruises
Casino Best of Gaming 2010.