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Best Of Gaming 2011

Our 16th annual roundup of the finest casinos, hotels, games and amenities in the business

By Rob Wiser

Here they are, the results of our 16th annual Best Of Gaming survey. Each year, we provide our readers with ballots and ask them to vote on their favorite aspects of the gaming world—the casinos they most enjoy playing at, the restaurants which they rank above the rest, the players clubs that reward them the most generously, and so on. The results of this survey are published in this issue, which is closely watched by players as well as the operators who run this industry.

In the following pages you’ll find listings of the best properties and amenities in your region (according to our readers), and in the gaming markets that you travel to. Since Casino Player readers are some of the savviest and most experienced gaming enthusiasts out there— hailing from all backgrounds and bankroll sizes—it’s a safe bet that any first-place winner in this issue, whether it’s a buffet, spa, steakhouse, or a casino that earned praise for its blackjack or video poker games—is worth checking out the next time you’re in that neck of the woods.

So, after sifting through mountains of ballots, and tallying every last vote, we’re excited to bring you the 2011 edition of our Best of Gaming awards. These results matter—especially to the casinos, which eagerly await the publication of this issue. You’ll see many of the winning properties proclaim their victories in advertisements and on billboards—and rightfully so, because over the years a Best of Gaming award has become one of the most significant accolades you can earn in this business. There certainly isn’t a more comprehensive guide to the industry’s finest, whether you’re looking for the best player’s clubs in Las Vegas, the best steakhouse, buffet or sushi restaurant in Atlantic City, or the best video poker games in the South.

That’s what this issue is all about: singling out the best in the business. It’s interesting to note that many of these categories wouldn’t have been relevant a couple of decades ago, when casinos were fueled almost entirely by gambling. You didn’t go to a casino to shop, play golf, or get a massage. You went there to gamble. That was it. As far as the casino bosses were concerned, it didn’t make much sense to offer amenities that would distract people from playing. Some properties actually worried about making their hotel rooms too comfortable!

Contrast that with today, as casinos proudly advertise their “all-suite” hotel towers (outfitted with gigantic flat-screen TVs and high-speed internet), along with their celebrity chef-backed restaurants, multi-million dollar spas, shopping malls, movie multiplexes, production shows, world-class golf courses…you name it, they’ve got it on the premises. (Some of these resorts are so jam-packed with things to do, gambling becomes an afterthought!)

Today, whether you’re visiting the Gulf Coast, Connecticut, or Las Vegas, you don’t simply expect a big casino. You want the full experience. You want to be entertained, dazzled and pampered. If you’re like most Casino Player readers, you insist on table games with fair rules, slots and video poker with good payback percentages, and a strong players club with generous cashback and comps. You also expect top-notch service—from the valet who parks your car, to the dealers who handle your chips, to the casino hosts who make you feel like a VIP. We cover every one of these categories in Best of Gaming, and many others.

Among the more than 900 casinos in America, there are perennial Best Of Gaming favorites which dominate their regions year after year in certain categories. But in 2011, we also saw some interesting surprises, proving that no property is able to stay on top by resting on its laurels. From the riverboats of southern Indiana, to the massive megaresorts of rural Connecticut, to the neon gaming palaces that line the Vegas Strip, every gaming region in the country is fiercely competitive and striving to get the edge, whether it’s by renovating their hotel rooms, switching up their slot machines, or dreaming up a casino promotion that becomes the hottest event in town.

We’ve long maintained that the most knowledgeable players in the business are the readers of this magazine. So it’s time for you to have your say. Here at Casino Player we spend eleven months out of the year giving you our thoughts on this exciting, ever-evolving industry…and now it’s your turn. The gaming world is paying close attention.

To read the full list of winners in Casino Player’s digital edition click here

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