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Best of Slots 2011 – Overall

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Our annual survey of best in the slot-playing world, as selected by our readers

 

Best Overall Hotel Casino

This one’s the grand prize in our annual Best of Slots issue, since our readers award it to the properties that provide the best overall, top-to-bottom experience in their regions. There were a number of repeat winners from last year, as the finest resorts in the industry have a tendency to stay on top of their markets, through continual renovations and clever new offerings.

In Atlantic City, Borgata continues to find ways to stay one step ahead of the pack. In the Chicagoland market, Blue Chip posted another win, while in the Native Northeast, Mohegan Sun once again edged out Foxwoods (it’s always a neck-and-neck competition between these two immense resorts and their seemingly endless slot floors).

In Las Vegas, last year’s winner, the Rio, slipped out of the top three as Red Rock (the first billion-dollar resort geared towards Las Vegas residents) claimed the #1 spot among Local casinos.

On the Strip, the magnificent Wynn Las Vegas notched a first-place finish, beating popular favorites Bellagio and Harrah’s Las Vegas (which came in at #2 and #3, respectively). Meanwhile, Golden Nugget was, unsurprisingly, praised by Strictly Slots readers yet again as the best casino-hotel in downtown Vegas.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip 2 Harrah’s Joliet 3 Horseshoe Hammond • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 MGM Grand Detroit 3 Greektown • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1Beau Rivage 2 Imperial Palace Biloxi 3 Hard Rock Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget 2 Main Street Station 3 California • Las Vegas Local 1 Red Rock 2 M Resort 3 Orleans • Las Vegas Strip 1 Wynn 2 Bellagio 3 Harrah’s Las Vegas • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Tropicana Express  3 Avi Casino • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City 2 Harrah’s New Orleans 3 Diamond Jacks Bossier • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri Kansas City 3 Ameristar Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle  2 Mystic Lake 3 Four Winds • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Alleghany • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley 2 Jackson Rancheria 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee • Native West 1 Barona 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Agua Caliente • Pennsylvania 1 Mt Airy Resort 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island 2 Dover Downs 3 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 3 Majestic Star • Tahoe 1 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Gold Strike Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 3 Riverwalk Casino

 

Best Overall Casino

According to Strictly Slots readers—some of the savviest slot players in the country—the properties in this category have the best casino facilities in their regions. This means a combination of factors, including a wide variety of games (with favorable payback percentages), fun and lucrative promotions, great atmosphere and service, and a well-run players club.

In this year’s survey, Borgata once again claimed bragging rights in Atlantic City. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, another perennial winner, Beau Rivage, garnered the most votes of any casino in the area. On the Las Vegas Strip, last year’s winner, Caesars Palace, was dethroned by Harrah’s Las Vegas, which has always done a fine job of appealing to slot players.

In other regions, we saw a mix of repeat winners from 2010, and surprising newcomers. Among Las Vegas Local casinos, M Resort stole the spotlight from Sam’s Town, which historically won this category. Less surprising was the repeat win earned by Golden Nugget, which remains the reader favorite in downtown Las Vegas casinos by a wide margin.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Jumer’s Casino Rock Island 3 Harrah’s Joliet • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 MGM Grand Detroit 3 Motor City Casino • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 2 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget 2 Main Street Station 3 Fitzgerald’s • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 Red Rock 3 Orleans • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Wynn • Laughlin 1 Aquarius Casino 2 Avi Casino 3 Pioneer Casino • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City 2 Harrah’s New Orleans 3 Diamond Jacks Bossier • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Lumiere Place 2 Ameristar Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Treasure Island Red Wing 2 Soaring Eagle 3 Four Winds • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Cache Creek 3 Jackson Rancheria • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort • Native West 1 Barona 2 Valley View 3 Harrah’s Rincon • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Delaware Park 2 Hollywood Penn National 3 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 3 Grand Victoria Rising Sun • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Gold Strike Tunica 3 Horseshoe Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 2 Ameristar Vicksburg 3 Riverwalk Casino

 

Best Casino for Reel Slots

Slot machines are the bread and butter of every casino, and this is the one aspect of casino floors that is constantly changing and evolving. The winners below are the casinos that our readers say offer the best reel slots. These are not only the casinos with the best selection of reel-spinners, but in many cases they’ve also got the most player-friendly paybacks and the best environments in which to play.

The best in the business keep getting better, bringing their players a steady supply of the hottest, freshest new titles. Harrah’s Las Vegas on the Vegas Strip is one example; its slot floor is even stronger today than it was in 2010, when it also won first place in this highly competitive category. However, as in 2010, its sister property in Atlantic City came in behind Borgata. Meanwhile, among local-oriented casinos in Las Vegas, the mighty Sam’s Town continued its reign as the Best Casino for Reel Slots.

In Missouri, Harrah’s St. Louis posted a well-deserved win. In the downtown Las Vegas region, Main Street Station managed to pull off a surprising win. (Last year, it was Fitzgeralds that earned top honors in the area—in 2011, second and third place were rounded out by the California and the Fremont.)

In Connecticut, we saw a flip-flip from last year’s results as Mohegan Sun was able to beat out Foxwoods. And in Reno, the colorfully themed Atlantis was able to best the Peppermill, which is never an easy casino to beat.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip 2 Grand Victoria Elgin 3 Casino Queen • Detroit 1 Motor City Casino 2 MGM Grand Detroit 3 Caesars Windsor • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Hard Rock Biloxi 2 Beau Rivage 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Fremont • Las Vegas Local 1 Sam’s Town 2 Orleans 3 Red Rock • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Mirage 3 MGM Grand • Laughlin 1 Pioneer Casino 2 Edgewater Casino 3 Riverside Laughlin • Louisiana 1 Eldorado Shreveport 2 Horseshoe Bossier City 3 Diamond Jacks Bossier • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri, Kansas City 3 Ameristar Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Four Winds  3 Grand Casino Hinckley • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Jackson Rancheria • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort 2 Harrah’s Cherokee • Native West 1 Pechanga 2 Valley View 3 Fantasy Springs • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Parx Casino 3 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island 2 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs 3 Harrah’s Chester • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy • Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 2 Majestic Star 3 Belterra • Tahoe 1 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 2 Rainbow Casino 3 Ameristar Vicksburg

 

Best Casino for Video Slots

This is the category in which we see the most impressive, high-tech and creative products that modern casinos have to offer. Between their cinematic graphics, heart-pounding bonus rounds and, video slots grow more exciting and sophisticated every year—and the casinos on the list below were hailed by Strictly Slots readers for offering the best selections in their markets.

Borgata is a casino that always stays on the cutting edge, and among Atlantic City properties it has proven to be virtually unbeatable in this category. Another repeat winner is IP (Imperial Palace) Biloxi on the Gulf Coast; while in Iowa, Isle of Capri Bettendorf was able to pull off a win over Harrah’s Council Bluffs.

There were some surprising wins this year in this category. In Downtown Las Vegas, Main Street Station (which, overall, had an excellent showing in this year’s survey) claimed first place for its fabulous selection of player-friendly video slots. Among local-oriented Las Vegas properties, last year’s winner, M Resort, slipped out of the top three as South Point grabbed a win. On the Las Vegas Strip, meanwhile, Harrah’s Las Vegas once again earned a first-place finish for its state-of-the-art video slots. (Presumably, our readers also voted for Harrah’s because of the generous rewards and promotions that slot players receive from its players club.)

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Blue Chip 3 Casino Queen • Detroit 1 MGM Grand Detroit 2 Caesars Windsor 3 Motor City Casino • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa 2 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Imperial Palace Biloxi 2 Beau Rivage 3 Hard Rock Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1Main Street Station 2 Golden Nugget  3 California • Las Vegas Local 1 South Point 2 Red Rock  3 Palms • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Venetian • Laughlin 1 Aquarius Casino 2 Harrah’s Laughlin 3 Edgewater • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City 2 L’auberge du Lac 3 Harrah’s New Orleans • Missouri 1 Lumiere Place 2 Harrah’s St. Louis 3 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Four Winds  3 Grand Casino Hinckley • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort 2 Harrah’s Cherokee • Native West 1 Agua Caliente 2 Valley View 3 Barona • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem 3 Parx Casino • Racinos 1 Harrah’s Chester 2 Hollywood Penn National 3 Delaware Park • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Silver Legacy 3 Grand Sierra Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 3 Grand Victoria Rising Sun • Tahoe 1 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Gold Strike Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Riverwalk Casino 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg  3 Ameristar Vicksburg

 

 Best Casino for Progressive Slots

The introduction of “progressive machines” took the slot industry, and the casino business in general, to a new level. The concept is straightforward: banks of machines are linked together, sometimes within a single casino, and other times across a network that spans many casinos around the country. Each time a player makes a bet on one of these machines, part of the bet is added to the top jackpot. The amount of the jackpot continues to climb until someone hits the big one; then it resets.

According to our readers, in Atlantic City you’ll still find the best progressive machines at Borgata. In Florida, meanwhile, Hard Rock Tampa has done a superb job of outfitting its slot floor with progressive games that offer a shot at truly life-changing sums. And among the local-oriented casinos of Las Vegas, the Palms notched a win in this category (no casino in the country can beat the Palms’ unique combination of great slot machines that local players love, and red-hot nightlife that attracts a cavalcade of celebrities every weekend).

Strictly Slots readers maintain that on the Gulf Coast, Beau Rivage remains the best casino in the region for hunting massive jackpots. And among racinos (horse racing tracks with slot machine casinos), Harrah’s Chester, located on the waterfront in Chester, Pennsylvania, claimed first place due to the terrific progressive games that are found among its 2,900 machines.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Showboat • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Blue Chip 3 Grand Victoria Elgin • Detroit 1 MGM Grand Detroit 2 Caesars Windsor 3 Motor City Casino • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa 2 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 2 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 Golden Nugget 3 Fitzgerald’s • Las Vegas Local 1 Palms 2 Sam’s Town 3 Red Rock  • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Caesars Palace 3 MGM Grand • Laughlin 1 Aquarius Casino 2 Harrah’s Laughlin 3 Riverside Laughlin • Louisiana 1 Eldorado Shreveport 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier 3 Isle of Capri, Lake Charles           •  Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Harrah’s N.Kansas City 3 Isle of Capri Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Ho-Chunk Casino 3 Four Winds • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort 2 Harrah’s Cherokee • Native West 1 Harrah’s Rincon 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Valley View • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Parx Casino 3 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Harrah’s Chester 2 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Silver Legacy 3 Eldorado Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 2 Majestic Star 3 Belterra • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Rainbow Vicksburg 3 Riverwalk Casino

 

 Best Casino for Video Poker

Video poker has been described as “the thinking man’s slot machine,” because true skill is required to play these games correctly. You’ve also got to understand which types of video poker machines to play (and which ones to avoid). If you choose the right game and apply the optimal strategy, you can capitalize on some of the lowest odds in the casino. (In some cases, you’ll even have an edge over the house.)

This year, we saw a number of repeat winners in this closely-watched category. Our readers claim that in the Detroit market, MGM Detroit offers the best video poker selection. They were also quick to declare that Hard Rock Hollywood is the number one property in Florida for smart video poker players. And in Las Vegas, sharp players appreciate the games at Main Street Station (downtown Vegas); Harrah’s Las Vegas (on the Strip); and the Palms, which continues to do an excellent job of catering to locals.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Bally’s Atlantic City • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Harrah’s Joliet 3 Casino Queen • Detroit 1 MGM Detroit • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Imperial Palace Biloxi 3 Boomtown Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Golden Nugget • Las Vegas Local 1 Palms 2 Sam’s Town 3 South Point  • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Bellagio 3 MGM Grand • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Pioneer Casino 3 Riverside Laughlin • Louisiana 1 Diamond Jacks Bossier 2 Isle of Capri, Lake Charles • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St. Louis 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City 3 Isle of Capri, Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Oneida Casino 3 Grand Casino Hinckley • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort 2 Harrah’s Cherokee 3 Pearl River • Native West 1 Barona 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Pechanga • Pennsylvania 1 Parx Casino 2 Rivers Casino 3 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Harrah’s Chester 2 Meadows Racetrack 3 Delaware Park • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 John Ascuaga’s Nugget • Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 2 Majestic Star 3 Belterra • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Cal Neva 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Gold Strike Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg  2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 3 Rainbow Casino

 

 Casino Where You Feel Luckiest

We always get a kick out of this category, since it represents the great “intangible element” of casinos. A casino can offer a dazzling atmosphere; an amazing selection of games; and even the best payback percentages in town. But if you don’t feel lucky there, you probably won’t be a big fan of the place. On the other hand, we’ve all visited casinos that aren’t the fanciest or trendiest places to play, yet we have a great time there because it feels like Lady Luck is watching over us.

This year, the casinos that won this category are all quite impressive from a number of standpoints. They’ve got an inviting atmosphere; all kinds of fun and entertaining amenities; and all the slot machines you could ask for. Yet according to our readers, they’ve also got that “extra” special factor that makes players want to keep coming back: these are the places where they feel luckiest.

Once again, Beau Rivage cruised to a first-place finish among the casinos of the Gulf Coast, while in Atlantic City, Borgata snatched the crown from last year’s winner, Trump Taj Mahal. Another repeat winner was Harrah’s Las Vegas. If you’re looking to change up your luck on your next casino visit, you might want to give one of these properties a try.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Bally’s Atlantic City • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Casino Queen 3 Blue Chip • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Motor City Casino 3  Greektown • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Hard Rock Tampa 3 Isle of Pompano • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Imperial Palace Biloxi 3 Isle of Capri Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 3 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 Fitzgerald’s 3 Golden Nugget • Las Vegas Local 1 Sam’s Town 2 Palms 3 Red Rock • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Paris 3 Treasure Island • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Aquarius Casino 3 Pioneer Casino • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 L’auberge du Lac 3 Diamond Jacks Bossier • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri, Kansas City 3 Harrah’s N.Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Potawatomi  3 Four Winds • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort 2 Pearl River 3 Harrah’s Cherokee • Native West 1 Fantasy Springs 2 Barona 3 Valley View • Pennsylvania 1 Parx Casino 2 Mt Airy Resort 3 Rivers Casino • Racinos 1 Harrah’s Chester 2 Delaware Park 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 John Ascuaga’s Nugget 3 Harrah’s Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 3 Hollywood Lawrenceburg • Tahoe 1 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 2 Rainbow Casino 3 Ameristar Vicksburg

 

Best Variety of Slots

Some slot players like to stick with a single machine, or a single type of game. Others enjoy bouncing between different games and trying out the newest titles on the floor. In this category, our readers voted on the casinos which offer the best variety—a mix of new games and popular classics, in all sorts of different denominations.

At these properties, you can also bet on finding the latest, hottest games that have been rolled out by the top manufacturers in the business. This means there will be exciting new options to check out whenever you visit.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Casino Queen 3 Grand Victoria Elgin • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 MGM Grand Detroit 3 Motor City Casino • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Imperial Palace Biloxi 3 Boomtown Biloxi • Iowa 1 Horseshoe Council Bluffs 2 Ameristar Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Fremont 2 Golden Nugget 3 Fitzgerald’s • Las Vegas Local 1 Sam’s Town 2 Red Rock 3 Palms • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Tropicana Express 2 Aquarius 3 Edgewater • Louisiana 1 Eldorado Shreveport 2 Harrah’s New Orleans • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri, Kansas City 3 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Grand Casino Hinckley 3 Four Winds  • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Seneca Niagara 3 Foxwoods • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort 2 Harrah’s Cherokee 3 Pearl River • Native West 1 Valley View 2 Harrah’s Ak-Chin 3 Fantasy Springs • Pennsylvania 1 Parx Casino 2 Rivers Casino 3 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island 2 Empire City Casino Yonkers 3 Meadows Racetrack • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Harrah’s Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 2 Majestic Star 3 Belterra • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Cal Neva 3 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe  • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica•  Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Rainbow Casino  3 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

Best High-End Slot Area

You won’t only find high rollers parked at the table games. Today’s top casinos also roll out the red carpet for their premium slot players, providing them with exclusive high-limit areas where they receive special services such as private cashiers, attendants and restrooms. In some casinos, these areas even feature vibrating massage chairs, personal TV screens, and exclusive lounges and buffets.

In this year’s survey, we saw a lot of properties make remarkable strides. In the Detroit market, MGM Grand Detroit finished ahead of last year’s winner, Caesars Windsor. In Atlantic City, Borgata’s luxurious perks for its high-limit slot players propelled it to a first-place finish ahead of Harrah’s Atlantic City and last year’s winner, Trump Taj Mahal.

On the Las Vegas Strip, first place once again went to the elegantly appointed high-limit slot areas of Bellagio. And in the Las Vegas Locals category, Strictly Slots readers handed top honors to a new winner in this category: the luxurious Green Valley Ranch.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip 2 Grand Victoria Elgin 3 Horseshoe Hammond • Detroit 1 MGM Grand Detroit • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget 2 California • Las Vegas Local 1 Green Valley Ranch 2 Sam’s Town 3 Red Rock • Las Vegas Strip 1 Bellagio 2 Caesars Palace 3 Harrah’s Las Vegas • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Horseshoe Bossier City • Missouri 1 Harrah’s N. Kansas City 2 Harrah’s St. Louis 3 Isle of Capri, Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds  2 Oneida Casino 3 Soaring Eagle • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Niagara Fallsview • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Coushatta Casino Resort • Native West 1 Barona 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Agua Caliente • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem 3 Mt. Airy Resort • Racinos 1 Dover Downs 2 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Silver Legacy 3 Harrah’s Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Majestic Star 3 Grand Victoria Rising Sun • Tahoe 1 Montbleu Casino 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

 Best Slot Hosts

A good slot host is like the genie that comes out of the bottle, possessing the power to grant wishes to gamblers. In this publication, we often remind our readers about the importance of forming a relationship with a host. If you gamble at a property with any regularity, you should be on a first-name basis with a host who can make your visits more enjoyable and rewarding. (You might be eligible for comps and perks you weren’t even aware of!)

If you play the slots at any of these award-winning casinos and don’t have a host yet, what are you waiting for? Introduce yourself, find out what type of freebies you might qualify for, and let them show you how much they appreciate your patronage. Play at a certain level, and a good host will pull out all the stops to make sure you have the experience of a lifetime—and want to come back soon.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Harrah’s Joliet 2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Blue Chip • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Greektown • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa 2 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Golden Nugget • Las Vegas Local 1 Sam’s Town 2 Rio 3 M Resort • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Caesars Palace 3 Bellagio • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Golden Nugget Laughlin 3 Tropicana Express • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Horseshoe Bossier City 3 Sam’s Town Shreveport • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri, Kansas City 3 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Soaring Eagle 3 Kewadin Casino • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Seneca Alleghany • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee 2 Coushatta Casino Resort • Native West 1 Barona 2 Harrah’s Ak-Chin 3 Harrah’s Rincon • Pennsylvania 1 Mt. Airy Resort 2 Rivers Casino 3 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Dover Downs 2 Harrah’s Chester 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Eldorado Reno 3 Peppermill • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Cal Neva • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg  2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

Best Cocktail Service

The practice of serving free beverages to players is a time-honored tradition at casinos, and the quality of cocktail service is often indicative of a casino’s overall attention to its customers. (A word of advice, however: if you over-indulge in “free” casino booze to the point where your judgment is impaired, these beverages might turn out to be extremely costly!)

In the casino world, the “best” cocktail service doesn’t only mean providing prompt refills. Male patrons appreciate being served by beautiful, friendly women (who, at some casinos, wear outfits that leave little to the imagination and leap onto stages to perform dance routines!) Borgata in Atlantic City, which once again captured first place in this category, turned this into a clever marketing strategy; its hand-picked “Borgata Babes” are some of the most attractive cocktail servers in the business, and bring an added jolt of excitement to the casino floor.

According to our readers, Hard Rock Tampa offers the highest-quality cocktail service in Florida, while Harrah’s Las Vegas snagged a win on the Las Vegas Strip against the stiffest competition in the country. Among local-oriented Las Vegas casinos, the Rio proved it still has the most stylish cocktail service in its market; its massive Mardi Gras-themed casino floor features some 85 “Bevertainers” who are also professional dancers and singers. When they’re not serving drinks, they’re jumping on stages to perform high-energy numbers.

And they’re earning every tip—during their busiest shifts, such as New Year’s Eve or Super Bowl Sunday, Rio Bevertainers might carry 23 drinks at a time—making the tray weigh more than 20 pounds!

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Showboat • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Harrah’s Joliet • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Greektown • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial 1 Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 2 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 Four Queens 3 California • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio 2 Sam’s Town 3 M Resort • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Paris 3 Wynn • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Colorado Belle 3 Pioneer • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier 3 Horseshoe Bossier City • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri, Kansas City 3 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Soaring Eagle 3 Grand Casino Hinckley • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek  • Native West 1 Harrah’s Rincon 2 Fantasy Springs • Pennsylvania 1 Mt. Airy Resort 2 Parx Casino • Racinos 1 Harrah’s Chester 2 Meadows Racetrack 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Eldorado Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Majestic Star • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Cal Neva • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Gold Strike Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Rainbow Vicksburg  2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 3 Ameristar Vicksburg

 

SLOT CLUBS

Best Slot Club

This is arguably the most important Best of Slots category for our readers. In this magazine (and in its sister publication, Casino Player) we’re constantly preaching about the importance of joining the players club at any casino you play at regularly (or plan to return to in the future).

It’s always free to sign up—in fact, many casinos will give you free play or other perks just for joining—and by using your players card every time you gamble, you’ll rack up points that can redeemed for cashback, free meals and hotel rooms, show tickets, and much more. Even better, a lot of players clubs these days are “linked” between casinos that are part of the same corporate family. For example, you can redeem the points you earn at a casino in Atlantic City the next time you visit a casino in Las Vegas, as long as they’re owned by the same company. (Caesars Entertainment, formerly Harrah’s, is the king in this regard—they’ve got properties all over the country.)

Whatever your game of choice is, if you’re not using your card and allowing the casino to track your play, you’re missing out on all kinds of freebies—and the casinos are only getting more generous, as the competition for players grows fiercer every year.

This year, we saw some interesting results in this hotly contested category. The winners listings contained a number of new names. In the Detroit market, Caesars Windsor came out on top, while on the Gulf Coast our readers say the players club at Beau Rivage is now the best in the region. And in Pennsylvania, Parx Casino, a thoroughbred horse racetrack and racino with 3,300 machines, claimed an impressive win.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City 2 Borgata 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Harrah’s Joliet 2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Blue Chip • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 MGM Grand Detroit 3 Motor City Casino • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa 2 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Fitzgerald’s • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 South Point 3 Sam’s Town • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Golden Nugget Laughlin 3 Tropicana Express • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier • Missouri 1 Harrah’s N. Kansas City 2 Harrah’s St Louis 3 Isle of Capri, Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Four Winds  3 Grand Casino Hinckley • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Niagara Fallsview • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Jackson Rancheria • Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee 2 Coushatta Casino Resort 3 Pearl River • Native West 1 Harrah’s Rincon 2 Valley View 3 Barona • Pennsylvania 1 Parx Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem 3 Mt. Airy Resort • Racinos 1 Meadows Racetrack 2 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs 3 Harrah’s Chester • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Majestic Star 3 Grand Victoria Rising Sun • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 2 Rainbow Vicksburg 3 Ameristar Vicksburg

 

 Best Slot Club Staff

Whether you’re in Connecticut, California, or any gaming destination in between, the most successful casinos are usually the ones who’ve mastered the art of customer service. These bustling properties may have thousands of guests pouring through their doors every day, yet they find a way to make sure every player receives prompt, friendly service from a staff of well-trained professionals.

Special kudos are in order for Caesars Entertainment and its Harrah’s-branded properties, as Harrah’s Atlantic City and Harrah’s Las Vegas once again won this year in their markets. On the Gulf Coast, Beau Rivage replaced last year’s winner (IP Casino Resort); in Laughlin, Harrah’s Laughlin earned praise for going the extra mile for its slot club members; and in Louisiana, the high-energy Harrah’s New Orleans cruised to a win on the strength of its hardworking slot club staff.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City 2 Borgata 3 Tropicana Atlantic City • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Harrah’s Joliet 3 Blue Chip • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Greektown • Florida 1 Isle of Pompano Park 2 Hard Rock Hollywood 3 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Fitzgerald’s • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 Sam’s Town 3 Red Rock • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Aquarius Casino 3 Pioneer Casino • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier 3 L’auberge du Lac • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Ameristar St. Charles 3 Ameristar Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Soaring Eagle • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Niagara Fallsview • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley • Native South 1 Pearl River • Native West 1 Fantasy Springs 2 Harrah’s Rincon 3 Barona • Pennsylvania 1 Parx Casino 2  Mt. Airy Resort • Racinos 1 Dover Downs 2 Harrah’s Chester 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Eldorado Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 2 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 3 Majestic Star • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Montbleu Casino 3 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

Best Cashback

Cashback, to explain it in a nutshell, is money that a player can redeem for points accrued on their players card. Casinos have different cashback policies and programs; some provide it in the form of “bounce back,” meaning the player receives a certificate good for cash in the mail to be used on their next trip to the casino. Others allow for same-day cashback; reach the next plateau of points while playing a slot machine, and this bonus will be applied directly to your card, for you to draw upon immediately.

As for how you spend your cashback, that’s up to you. Savvy players will learn as much as possible about their casino’s program, to understand how to maximize their points. For example, your points might go farther when applied towards meals or a hotel room, rather than using them for more time on the slot machines (which is how most players wind up spending them).

Amazingly, some folks pass up the opportunity to earn cashback due to a persistent slot machine myth. The myth goes like this: when you play with your card inserted into the machine, the casino lower the payouts, so they use cashback to offset your losses a bit. This is completely false. Use your card at all times, and earn that cash!

The casinos listed below are the ones our readers say have the most generous cashback programs. This means they’re going the extra mile to make sure you feel your play is appreciated. Take your action to casinos like Borgata in Atlantic City, Isle of Capri in Iowa, and M Resort in Las Vegas, and you’ll find out why Strictly Slots readers say these properties give you strong bang for your buck.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Harrah’s Joliet 2 Blue Chip 3 Casino Queen • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Motor City Casino 3 MGM Grand Detroit • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa 2 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 Fitzgerald’s 3 California • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 Sam’s Town 3 South Point • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Golden Nugget Laughlin 2 Harrah’s Laughlin 3 Aquarius • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier 3 Horseshoe Bossier City • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds  2 Oneida Casino 3 Soaring Eagle • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek  • Native West 1 Barona 2 Harrah’s Rincon 3 Fantasy Springs • Pennsylvania 1 Sands Casino Bethlehem 2 Mt. Airy Resort 3 Rivers Casino • Racinos 1 Harrah’s Chester 2 Meadows Racetrack 3 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Silver Legacy 3 Grand Sierra Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 2 Belterra • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Cal Neva 3 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe • Tunica 1 Horseshoe Tunica 2 Hollywood Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

Best Comps

For veteran slot players, choosing to play at a particular casino often comes down to one factor: the comp program. If you show up with your bankroll, how is the casino going to reward you for your patronage? How much slot play will entitle you to a free trip to the buffet, or dinner for two at the steakhouse? How long will you need to play $1 per spin to score a VIP cabana at the pool, or a pair of show tickets?

Play enough money through the machines, and the next step up might be getting your “RFB” (Room, Food and Beverage) fully paid for. And if you’re coming to gamble huge in the high-limit area, the casino’s generosity can know no limits. (We’re talking free Ferraris and luxury vacations for you and your spouse—whatever it takes to keep you as a customer!)

It’s a rule of human nature that everyone loves getting free stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a fixed budget and looking to get comped at the coffee shop, or you’re a high roller from Hong Kong who arrived via private jet and wants to be re-imbursed for the cost of fuel. Players of all sizes determine where to play based on the quality of a casino’s comp program, and in competitive gaming markets, properties can be surprisingly liberal with their freebies.

According to our readers, these are the properties that won’t hesitate to shell out the comps to make you feel appreciated—and to ensure that you choose to play there in the future.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City 2 Borgata 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Harrah’s Joliet 2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Resorts E. Chicago • Detroit 1 Greektown 2 MGM Grand Detroit 3 Motor City Casino • Florida 1 Isle of Pompano Park 2 Hard Rock Tampa 3 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Hard Rock Biloxi 2 Beau Rivage 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Ameristar Council Bluffs 3 Horseshoe Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Fitzgerald’s • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 Sam’s Town 3 Orleans • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Aquarius 3 Riverside Laughlin • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier 3 Horseshoe Bossier City • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Soaring Eagle • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley 2 Red Hawk 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Pearl River • Native West 1 Valley View 2 Harrah’s Rincon 3 Barona  • Pennsylvania 1 Parx Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island 2 Meadows Racetrack 3 Harrah’s Chester • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Silver Legacy 3 Peppermill • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 3 Hollywood Lawrenceburg • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Montbleu Casino 3 Cal Neva • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Sam’s Town Tunica 3 Gold Strike Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg  2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 3 Rainbow Casino

 

 Best Slot Club Promotions

 One of the perks of joining a good slot club is that you’ll be invited to participate in various promotions and events. The best slot clubs in the business always seem to be announcing new promotions for their members—whether it’s invites to slot tournaments, luxury car giveaways, “point multiplier” days, or even free car washes for a year. (We’ve seen some very creative promotions lately!)

Strictly Slots readers say the resorts on this list have the most creative and generous promotions in their regions. Some of this year’s winners came as no surprise (such as the Harrah’s properties that won, once again, in Atlantic City and on the Las Vegas Strip).

Another repeat winner that deserves a special mention: M Resort, which opened in 2009 and wasted no time securing the loyalty of local Vegas players. Last year, it managed to beat the much-beloved Sam’s Town, which has been a favorite of local players for decades. This year, it was able to win this category yet again.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City 2 Borgata 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Harrah’s Joliet 2 Blue Chip 3 Jumer’s Casino Rock Island • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Greektown 3 MGM Grand Detroit • Florida 1 Isle of Pompano Park 2 Hard Rock Hollywood 3 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Hard Rock Biloxi 2 Beau Rivage 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Horseshoe Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station 2 California 3 Golden Nugget • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 Palms 3 Sam’s Town • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Edgewater 3 Pioneer Casino • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 L’auberge du Lac • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City 3 Ameristar St. Charles • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Soaring Eagle 3 Grand Casino Hinckley • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Jackson Rancheria • Native South 1 Pearl River • Native West 1 Harrah’s Ak-Chin 2 Valley View 3 Barona • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem 3 Mt. Airy Resort • Racinos 1 Meadows Racetrack 2 Wheeling Island 3 Presque Island Downs • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy • Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 3 Belterra • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Cal Neva 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Sam’s Town Tunica 3 Resorts Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 2 Ameristar Vicksburg 3 Rainbow Vicksburg

 

 Best Direct Mail

Even in the Internet age, the concept of casino “direct mail”—which was pioneered in Atlantic City—remains an important part of their marketing operations. This is the practice of mailing slot club members postcards or brochures that announce upcoming events, or offer invitations to promotions, special parties, etc. Some casinos have turned direct mail into an art form, sending out cleverly written, eye-catching brochures which feature all kinds of different exciting offers and promotions.

The idea, of course, is to encourage you to book your next trip as soon as possible—and the casinos which came out on top in this year’s survey are masters of crafting the perfect direct mail offer.

When you join the mailing lists of any of the casinos listed below, don’t worry about receiving a bunch of “junk mail”—you can expect to get relevant, valuable offers and information. Our readers are particularly pleased when they receive mailings from Harrah’s Atlantic City; Harrah’s St. Louis in Missouri; and Harrah’s New Orleans in Lousiana. Meanwhile, local Las Vegas players make sure to open any mail they receive from M Resort, and those who play slots on the Las Vegas Strip have found great value in the direct mail coming from Harrah’s Las Vegas.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City 2 Borgata 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Harrah’s Joliet 3 Jumer’s Casino Rock Island • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor 2 Motor City Casino 3 Greektown • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood 2 Isle of Pompano Park 3 Hard Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Imperial Palace Biloxi 3 Hard Rock Biloxi • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 California 2 Golden Nugget 3 Main Street Station • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort 2 Sam’s Town 3 Orleans • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 MGM Grand 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Pioneer Casino 3 Edgewater • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Diamond Jacks Bossier • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Isle of Capri, Kansas City 3 Ameristar St. Charles • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Grand Casino Hinckley 3 Ho-Chunk Casino • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk 2 Thunder Valley 3 Cache Creek • Native West 1 Valley View 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Harrah’s Rincon • Pennsylvania 1 Mt. Airy Resort2 Rivers Casino 3 Parx Casino • Racinos 1 Dover Downs 2 Harrah’s Chester 3 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Harrah’s Reno 3 Peppermill • Southern Indiana 1 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 2 Hollywood Lawrenceburg 3 Majestic Star • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Montbleu Casino 3 Cal Neva • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Resorts Tunica 3 Sam’s Town Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 2 Ameristar Vicksburg

 

 Best High-End Slot Lounge

 If you’ve got the guts and the bankroll to play higher-denomination games (typically, this means $5 per spin and up), you should expect to receive special attention and perks—beginning with access to a high-end slot lounge where you’ll play in style and comfort. These lounges usually offer complimentary food, snacks and beverages, and are equipped with private restrooms and cashier cages. They also provide a place for VIPs to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the main casino.

The resorts on this year’s winners list have taken this concept to the next level. High-limit players sing the praises of Horseshoe Hammond in Chicagoland; the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas; and the gorgeous Foxwoods in Connecticut. Of course, in addition to ultra-comfy atmosphere, these high-limit lounges also offer players a chance at winning some truly spectacular jackpots.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Trump Taj Mahal 3 Caesars Atlantic City • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond 2 Grand Victoria Elgin 3 Resorts E. Chicago • Detroit 1 MGM Detroit • Florida 1 Hark Rock Tampa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Grand Casino Biloxi 3 Hard Rock Biloxi • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio 2 Palms 3 Sam’s Town • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas 2 Caesars Palace 3 Bellagio • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City 2 Harrah’s New Orleans • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St Louis 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Oneida Casino 3 Soaring Eagle • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Niagara Fallsview • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley  2 Red Hawk 3 Cache Creek • Native West 1 Barona 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Pala Casino • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem • Racinos 1 Meadows Racetrack 2 Harrah’s Chester • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Eldorado Reno 3 Peppermill • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Majestic Star 3 Grand Victoria Rising Sun • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Fitzgerald’s Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

 OUTSIDE THE CASINO

Best Overall Hotel

The properties in this category boast excellent hotel accommodations in addition to their action-packed casinos, which is a must if you’re going to stay and play for a few days (or longer). Some of the hotel-casinos on this year’s winners list are popular due to their very reasonable prices; others, such as Wynn Las Vegas (the winner among Vegas Strip resorts), charge higher rates but more than make up for it by providing incredibly comfortable, elegant rooms with an array of amenities.

We’ve come a long way since the days when casinos didn’t want to make their rooms too comfortable, out of fear that guests would stay upstairs and not spend enough time gambling! At any of the resorts on this year’s list, you’ll be able to rest and relax in total comfort until it’s time to take another shot at those slot jackpots.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip 2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Harrah’s Joliet • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi  • Iowa 1 Isle of Capri Bettendorf 2 Ameristar Council Bluffs 3 Harrah’s Council Bluffs • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget 2 Main Street Station 3 California • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio 2 Red Rock 3 M Resort • Las Vegas Strip 1 Wynn 2 Bellagio 3 Caesars Palace • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Tropicana Express 3 Aquarius Casino • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Horseshoe Bossier City 3 L’auberge du Lac • Missouri 1 Lumiere Place 2 Harrah’s St. Louis 3 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle 2 Four Winds 3 Treasure Island Red Wing • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley 2 Cache Creek 3 Jackson Rancheria • Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee 2 Pearl River 3 Coushatta Casino Resort • Native West 1 Barona 2 Fantasy Springs 3 Morongo Casino • Pennsylvania 1 Sands Casino Bethlehem 2 Mt Airy Resort • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island 2 Dover Downs • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy  • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 3 Majestic Star • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Montbleu Casino 3 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Horseshoe Tunica 3 Gold Strike Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 3 Riverwalk Casino

 

Best Hotel Rooms

The resorts which won this year’s “Best Hotel Rooms” category offer a range of super-comfortable accommodations, depending on what you’re willing to spend. (Ideally, you’re playing at a high enough level to get your room comped, and then you’re paying nothing at all!)

At properties like Borgata (this year’s winner in the Atlantic City market), Hard Rock Biloxi (Gulf Coast), and Wynn (Las Vegas Strip), even the standard rooms are plush and outfitted with high-tech amenities. And if you’re willing to spend the big bucks—or you’re a casino VIP—they’ll put you up in a suite fit for a king (or queen).

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Trump Taj Mahal • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip 2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Harrah’s Joliet • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor  • Gulf Coast 1 Hard Rock Biloxi 2 Beau Rivage 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Ameristar Council Bluffs 2 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget 2 California 3 El Cortez • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio 2 Red Rock 3 M Resort • Las Vegas Strip 1 Wynn 2 Venetian 3 Bellagio • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin 2 Tropicana Express 3 Aquarius Casino • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans 2 Horseshoe Bossier City 3 L’auberge du Lac • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St. Louis 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds 2 Treasure Island Red Wing 3 Soaring Eagle • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods 2 Mohegan Sun 3 Seneca Niagara • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley 2 Cache Creek 3 Jackson Rancheria • Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee 2 Pearl River 3 Coushatta Casino Resort • Native West 1 Barona 2 Morongo Casino 3 Harrah’s Rincon • Pennsylvania 1 Sands Casino Bethlehem 2 Mt Airy Resort • Racinos 1 Dover Downs 2 Wheeling Island • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno 2 Peppermill 3 Silver Legacy  • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun 3 Majestic Star • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Gold Strike Tunica 2 Hollywood Tunica 3 Horseshoe Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg 2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg 3 Riverwalk Casino

Best Entertainment

Not too long ago, “casino entertainment” meant some cheesy live music in the lounge, and perhaps a headliner belting out his greatest hits in the showroom. That was basically it. Why would the bosses want to devote precious floor space to bars or discos, when they could cram that square footage with more tables and machines? And why would a casino want to provide all those distractions, when the customer ought to be gambling?

That was the old mentality, and boy, has it changed. Nowadays, the top resorts seek to provide a complete entertainment experience, where gambling is just one part of the equation. They’ve got sizzling bands playing free shows in the lounges; superstar headliners performing for huge crowds in their amphitheatres and arenas; and various hip bars and nightclubs where the party rocks every night into the wee hours.

Check the upcoming entertainment schedule of most major gaming resorts and you’ll find a diverse lineup of bands, singers, comedians and even sporting events. Boxing is no longer the only sport associated with casinos; lately we’ve seen a lot of Mixed Martial Arts, the fastest-rising sport in the country, held at gaming resorts. In Connecticut, Mohegan Sun even has a 10,000-seat arena which serves as the home court for a WNBA team.

But it’s the big-name musical acts which really bring in the crowds (and generate huge numbers for the casinos, when the excited masses spill out onto the gaming floor afterwards). From the Rolling Stones and Billy Joel to Jay-Z and Beyonce, when music superstars launch their tours, stops at various U.S. gaming resorts are always on the itinerary. This enables the casinos to draw thousands of people who might not otherwise visit their property, and fill the front rows with high rollers.

At the properties that finished first in this category, some of the best action doesn’t get going until the sun goes down and some of the world’s finest entertainers and shows take the stage.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City 3 Tropicana Atlantic City • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip 2 Horseshoe Hammond 3 Harrah’s Joliet • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi, Vibe 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi • Iowa 1 Harrah’s Council Bluffs 2 Isle of Capri Bettendorf • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Fitzgerald’s 2 Golden Nugget 3 Fremont • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio 2 Orleans 3 Hard Rock Las Vegas • Las Vegas Strip 1 Caesars Palace 2 MGM Grand 3 Mirage • Laughlin 1 Riverside Laughlin 2 Tropicana Express • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City 2 Sam’s Town Shreveport • Missouri 1 Harrah’s N. Kansas City 2 Harrah’s St. Louis • Native Midwest 1 Potawatomi  2 Soaring Eagle 3 Mountaineer • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun 2 Foxwoods 3 Niagara Fallsview • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley 2 Red Hawk 3 Cache Creek • Native South 1 Pearl River • Native West 1 Fantasy Springs 2 Morongo Casino 3 Harrah’s Ak-Chin • Pennsylvania 1 Mt. Airy Resort 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem 3 Rivers Casino • Racinos 1 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs • Reno 1 Silver Legacy 2 Eldorado Reno 3 Atlantis Reno • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra 2 Grand Victoria Rising Sun • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe 3 Montbleu Casino • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica 2 Gold Strike Tunica 3 Horseshoe Tunica • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg  2 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg

 

 Best Steakhouse

These days, it seems no big-time casino is complete without a high-end steakhouse. In this corner of the culinary universe, celebrity chefs including Bobby Flay—a famous Food Network presence on “Iron Chef America” and “Throwdown With Bobby Flay”—are joined by grand old names like Delmonico, inspired by New Orleans’ century-old Delmonico Restaurant and bar.

Not coincidentally, those are two of our winners this year; Strictly Slots readers chose Bobby Flay Steak at the Borgata as the Best Steakhouse in Atlantic City, while Hard Rock Hollywood in Florida won for its highly acclaimed Council Oak Steak & Seafood. Other first-place finishers included Craft Steak at Foxwoods in Connecticut, and Andrews Steak and Seafood at the Rivers Casino in Pennsylvania.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata, Bobbie Flay Steak 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City, The Steakhouse 3 Caesars Atlantic City, Nero’s Tuscan Steakhouse • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond, Jack Binion’s Steakhouse 2 Blue Chip, William B’s Steakhouse 3 Harrah’s Metropolis, The Range Steakhouse • Detroit 1 MGM Grand Detroit, Bourbon Steakhouse 2 Caesars Windsor, Nero’s 3 Jumer’s Casino, DJ’s Steakhouse • Florida 1 Hard Rock Hollywood, Council Oak Steak & Seafood 2 Hard Rock Tampa, Council Oak Steak & Seafood  3 Isle of Pompano, Farraddays • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage, BR Prime 2 Hard Rock Biloxi, VIBE 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi, thirty-two • Iowa 1 Prairie Meadows, AJ’s Steakhouse 2 Harrah’s Council Bluffs, 360 Steakhouse 3 Isle of Capri Bettendorf, Farraddays  • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Binion’s Horseshoe, Jack Binion’s Steakhouse 2 Four Queens, Hugo’s Cellar 3 Fitzgerald’s, Don B’s Steakhouse • Las Vegas Local 1 Sam’s Town, Billy Bob’s Steakhouse 2 Orleans, Canal Street Steakhouse 3 Rio, Voo Doo Steak • Las Vegas Strip 1 Harrah’s Las Vegas, The Range Steakhouse 2 Bally’s Las Vegas, Bally’s Steakhouse 3 Caesars Palace, Neros • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin, The Range 2 Edgewater, Hickory Pit Steakhouse 3 Tropicana Express, The Steakhouse • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans, Besh Steakhouse 2 Horseshoe Bossier City, Jack Binion’s Steakhouse 3 L’auberge du Lac, Ember Grille & Wine Bar • Missouri 1 Harrah’s St. Louis, Kelly English Steakhouse 2 Harrah’s N. Kansas City, The Range Steakhouse • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle, Siniikaung Steakhouse 2 Mountaineer, La Bonne Vie 3 Potawatomi, Dream Dance Steak • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods, Craft Steak 2 Mohegan Sun, Michael Jordan’s Steak House 3 Seneca Niagara, The Western Door Steakhouse • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk, Henry’s Steakhouse 2 Thunder Valley, High Steaks  3 Cache Creek, C2 Steakhouse • Native South 1 Pearl River, Miko Steakhouse 2 Coushatta Casino Resort, Prime Steakhouse • Native West 1 Harrah’s Ak-Chin, The RangeR 2 Harrah’s Rincon, Harrah’s Steakhouse 3 Valley View, Black and Blue • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino, Andrews Seafood and Steakhouse 2 Mt. Airy Resort, red Steakhouse 3 Sands Casino Bethlehem, Emeril’s Chop House • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island, Pointe Steakhouse 2 Harrah’s Chester, COVE 3 Dover Downs, Micheles  • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno, Atlantis Steakhouse 2 Peppermill, Bimini Steakhouse 3 Harrah’s Reno, Harrah’s Steakhouse • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 2 Hollywood Lawrenceburg, Final Cut 3 Majestic Star, Don B’s Steakhouse • Tahoe 1 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, Sage Steakhouse 2 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Friday’s Station Steak & Seafood Grill • Tunica 1 Horseshoe Tunica, Jack Binion’s Steakhouse 2 Sam’s Town Tunica, Twains Steakhouse 3 Gold Strike, Chicago Steakhouse • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jacks Vicksburg, DJ’s Seafood & Steakhouse 2 Ameristar Vicksburg, Bourbon BBQ Steakhouse

 

 Best Buffet

 What’s for dinner? Roast beef? Seafood? Pasta prepared to order? A little of this and a little of that? With casino buffets, you can literally have it all—and don’t forget to save room for dessert!

Be it breakfast or lunch, dinner or brunch, buffets have always been an important way for casinos to feed players on the go. The top feasts in their respective regions are those that go the extra mile and serve a wide variety of fresh, well-prepared foods, often with cook-to-order stations.

Serving stations for different cuisines—often featuring different types of cuisine from around the world—have all but replaced the old single-file lines with customers trudging past tables. It’s a trend that started with the gigantic Carnival World buffet at the Rio, which still ranks No. 1 with readers with Strictly Slots readers among Las Vegas locals casinos.

In Atlantic City, another repeat winner is the mouth-watering Waterfront Buffet at Harrah’s. And on the Las Vegas Strip, the big win by Bellagio shows that even one of the world’s most luxurious gaming resorts needs to be able to provide a first-class buffet for its hungry players.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City, Waterfront Buffet 2 Borgata, Borgata Buffet 3 Showboat, French Quarter Buffet • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond, Village Square Buffet 2 Blue Chip, Options Buffet 3 Harrah’s Joliet, Union Station Buffet • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor, Market Buffet 2 Motor City Casino, Assembly Line Buffet 3 Jumer’s Casino, Player’s Buffet • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa, Fresh Harvest Buffet 2 Isle of Pompano, Isle Buffet • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage, The Buffet 2 Imperial Palace Biloxi, Back Bay Buffet 3 Grand Casino Biloxi, Grand Buffet • Iowa 1 Harrah’s Council Bluffs, Fresh Market Square 2 Ameristar Council Bluffs, Heritage Buffet 3 Isle of Capri Bettendorf, Calypso’s Buffet • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station, Garden Court Buffet 2 Fremont, Paradise Buffet 3 Golden Nugget, Buffet • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio, Carnival World Buffet 2 M Resort, Studio B 3 Orleans, Fresh Market Buffet • Las Vegas Strip 1 Bellagio, Buffet 2 Wynn, The Buffet at Wynn 3 Planet Hollywood, Spice Market Buffet • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin, Fresh Market Buffet 2 Edgewater, Grand Buffet • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City, Village Square Buffet 2 Eldorado Shreveport, The Market Place Buffet • Missouri 1 Harrah’s N. Kansas City, The Buffet at Harrah’s 2 Harrah’s St. Louis, Eat Up! Buffet 3 Isle of Capri, Kansas City, Calypso’s Buffet • Native Midwest 1 Four Winds, The Buffet 2 Soaring Eagle, Firefly Buffet 3 Mystic Lake Casino, The Buffet • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun, Season’s Buffet 2 Foxwoods, Festival Buffet 3 Seneca Niagara, Thunder Falls Buffet • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk, Waterfall Buffet 2 Thunder Valley, Feast Buffet 3 Jackson Rancheria, Fisherman’s Wharf Buffet • Native South 1 Pearl River, Chef’s Pavilion Buffet 2 Coushatta Casino Resort, Seven Clans Buffet 3 Harrah’s Cherokee, Fresh Market Buffet  • Native West 1 Valley View, Lobster Buffet 2 Barona, Seasons Fresh Buffet 3 Agua Caliente, Grand Palms Buffet • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino, Grand Buffet 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem, Cobalt Café/Buffet • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island, The Islander Buffet 2 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, The Buffet 3 Harrah’s Chester, Temptations Buffet • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno, Toucan Charlie’s Buffet 2 Eldorado Reno, The Buffet 3 Peppermill. Island Buffet • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra, The Ultimate Buffet 2 Majestic Star, Passports Buffet 3 Hollywood Lawrenceburg, Passport Buffet • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Forest Buffet • Tunica 1 Horseshoe Tunica, Village Square Buffet 2 Gold Strike, Courtyard Buffet 3 Sam’s Town Tunica, The Great Buffet • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jack’s Vicksburg, Legends Buffet 2 Rainbow Casino, Riverview Buffet 3 Ameristar Vicksburg, Heritage Buffet

 

Best Coffee Shop

The coffee shops you’ll find at casinos are really more like full-service restaurants with wide-ranging menus. In this category, our readers tend to vote for the ones that are casual and not too pricey, but don’t skimp on the quality. The coffee shops that made our winner’s list are also prepared to satisfy your appetite around the clock—whether you’re in the mood for breakfast at three in the afternoon, or dinner at four in the morning after a long night of hitting the slots.

This year’s winners are prime examples of how to run a top-shelf coffee shop. Reflections Café at Harrah’s Atlantic City, known for serving delicious pizzas from woodburning ovens, was a repeat winner. On the Las Vegas Strip, Bellagio demonstrated the diversity of its restaurants when its coffee shop, Café Bellagio, notched a win; it’s also a resort where high rollers dine at some of the most exquisite gourmet restaurants in the country. Meanwhile, among local-oriented coffee shops in Las Vegas, the Courtyard Café at the Orleans took home a well-deserved win.

 

Atlantic City 1 Harrah’s Atlantic City, Reflections Café 2 Borgata, The Metropolitan 3 Bally’s Atlantic City, Nosh • Chicagoland 1 Harrah’s Joliet, Mosaic 2 Jumer’s Casino 3 Lakeside Café • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor, Artist Café • Florida 1 Hard Rock Tampa, Hard Rock Café 2 Hard Rock Hollywood, Hard Rock Café 3 Isle of Pompano, Island Coffee Shop • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage, Terrace Café 2 Hard Rock Biloxi, Hard Rock Café 3 Imperial Palace Biloxi, Tree House Coffee Shop • Iowa 1 Horseshoe Council Bluffs, JB’s Cafe • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget, Carson Street Café 2 California, Market Street Café 3 Four Queens, Magnolia’s Veranda • Las Vegas Local 1 Orleans, Courtyard Café 2 Red Rock, Grand Café 3 Rio, Sao Paulo Café • Las Vegas Strip 1 Bellagio, Café Bellagio 2 Harrah’s Las Vegas, Café at Harrah’s 3 Paris, Café Belle Madeleine • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin, Beach Café 2 Tropicana Express, Under The Stairs Café 3 Colorado Belle, The Gallery Café • Louisiana 1 Eldorado Shreveport, The Café • Missouri 1 Harrah’s N. Kansas City, Roasted Coffeehouse 2 Harrah’s St. Louis, Club Aroma 3 Isle of Capri, Kansas City, Java Bay • Native Midwest 1 Mountaineer, The Gatsby Dinning Room 2 Soaring Eagle, The Native Grind 3 Four Winds, Willowbrook Cafe • Native Northeast 1 Foxwoods, Veranda Café 2 Mohegan Sun, Imus Ranch House 3 Seneca Niagara, Java Café • Native Northwest 1 Red Hawk, Two Rivers Café 2 Cache Creek, Canyon Café 3 Thunder Valley, Thunder Cafe • Native South 1 Harrah’s Cherokee, Lobby Café 2 Coushatta Casino Resort, Terrace Café • Native West 1 Valley View, BLD’s Café 2 Harrah’s Ak-Chin 3 Barona, Sage Café • Pennsylvania 1 Rivers Casino, West End Café 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem, Cobalt Café 3 Parx Casino, Café Parx • Racinos 1 Wheeling Island, Crescent Moon Coffee Bar 2 Harrah’s Chester, Aces Diner 3 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs, Betty & Joe’s • Reno 1 Peppermill, Café Milano 2 Atlantis Reno, Purple Parrot 3 Eldorado Reno, Eldorado Coffee Company • Southern Indiana 1 Hollywood Lawrenceburg, Hollywood Grind 2 Belterra, Casino Café • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, American River Café 2 Cal Neva, Lake View Dining Room 3 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, Hard Rock Café • Tunica 1 Gold Strike Tunica, The Atrium Café 2 Horseshoe Tunica, Otherlands Coffee Bar 3 Sam’s Town Tunica, Smokey Joe’s Café • Vicksburg 1 Diamond Jack’s Vicksburg, Lucky Bean 2 Riverwalk Casino, Rocky’s 3 Ameristar Vicksburg, Bella’s Bakery & Café

 

Best Bar/Lounge

 Some of the coolest bars anywhere are found inside of casinos—from authentic Irish pubs, to rock n’ roll joints and hip celebrity hangouts. The winners in our Best Bar/Lounge category cover the full spectrum.

If you’ve hung out after dark at Borgata in Atlantic City, it should come as no surprise that its B Bar took top honors (again) in is market. Located on the casino floor, this 24/7 hot spot is always buzzing with energy and music. On the Vegas Strip–which must be home to more awesome bars and lounges per square mile than anywhere else in the world—Carmel at Bellagio won first place.

Another consensus among our readers was that Voo Doo Rooftop Lounge—which looms high atop the Rio, featuring mind-blowing views of the glittering Las Vegas Valley—is the hottest spot in town for locals. (We can’t disagree.) And Main Street Station in downtown Las Vegas scored another win for its outstanding Triple 7 Brew Pub, which features live entertainment, tasty ales brewed on the premises, and a variety of fare from gourmet pizza to a sushi bar.

Elsewhere around the country, other notable wins included the Fireside Lounge at Reno’s Peppermill resort, where you can warm up with your date next to the fire pit, or settle into a plush booth to sample some of the best cocktails in town. And we definitely can’t argue with the Bottleneck Blues Bar racking up another first-place win for Ameristar Vicksburg. It’s one of the coolest venues in the casino industry for seeing live music, combining the decor of a 1930s theatre with the sounds and energy of a jumpin’ Delta blues club.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata, B Bar 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City, Exhibition Bar 3 Trump Taj Mahal, EGO • Chicagoland 1 Horseshoe Hammond, Push 2 Blue Chip, Rocks Lounge 3 Harrah’s Joliet, Diamond Lounge • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor, VU Bar 2 MGM Grand Detroit, INT ICE • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage, Eight 75 2 Hard Rock Biloxi, The Ledge 3 Grand Casino Biloxi, Pool Bar  • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Main Street Station, Triple 7’s Brewery 2 Golden Nugget, Rush Lounge • Las Vegas Local 1 Rio, Voo Doo Rooftop Lounge 2 Orleans, Bourbon Street Cabaret 3 Palms, The Lounge • Las Vegas Strip 1 Bellagio, Carmel 2 Caesars Palace, Cleopatra Barge 3 Harrah’s Las Vegas, Carnaval Court • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin, Chances • Louisiana 1 Harrah’s New Orleans, Ultra Lounge  2 Horseshoe Bossier City, Bar 51 3 L’auberge du Lac, Jack After Dark • Missouri 1 Harrah’s N. Kansas City, Voo Doo Lounge • Native Midwest 1 Soaring Eagle, Water Lily Lounge 2 Ho-Chunk, Copper Oak Lounge 3 Four Winds, Players Club Lounge • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun, Lucky’s Lounge 2 Foxwoods, Atrium Bar & Lounge 3 Niagara Fallsview, Terrapin Bar • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley, Falls Bar and Lounge 2 Red Hawk, Mahogany Lounge • Native West 1 Pechanga, Cabaret Lounge 2 Fantasy Springs, 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar 3 Harrah’s Ak-Chin, Oasis Lounge • Pennsylvania 1 Mt. Airy Resort, reds Bar 2 Sands Casino Bethlehem, Molten Lounge 3 Rivers Casino, Levels Lounge • Racinos 1 Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs, Bar Louie 2 Meadows Racetrack, Silks Lounge 3 Wheeling Island, Castaways Bar • Reno 1 Peppermill, Fireside Lounge 2 Atlantis Reno, Atrium Bar and Lounge 3 Eldorado Reno, Bar Centro • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra, Out of Bounds Bar 2 Hollywood Lawrenceburg, H Bar • Tahoe 1 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Cliché 2 Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, 19 Kitchen Bar and Lounge 3 Montbleu Casino, Opal Ultra Lounge • Tunica 1 Gold Strike, Liquid Assets 2 Horseshoe Tunica, Bluesville Lounge 3 Hollywood Tunica, Safari Bar • Vicksburg 1 Ameristar Vicksburg, Bottleneck Blues Bar

 

Best SPA

 As gaming resorts have evolved, we’ve seen world-class shopping, restaurants and entertainment become fixtures at properties that were once geared strictly towards servicing gamblers. The addition of incredible, state-of-the-art spas has been another element of this evolution. Some of the finest spas in the country, built at a cost of millions of dollars, are now found a mere stone’s throw from bustling slot floors—and you’re missing out if you haven’t sampled some of these blissful facilities.

Step away from the machines and book yourself an appointment at Borgata’s sublime Spa Toccare; Spa Mio at M Resort in Las Vegas; or The Spa at Beau Rivage. Indeed, any of the facilities on the following list are sure to relax and rejuvenate you in ways you might never expect from a trip to a casino.

 

Atlantic City 1 Borgata, Spa Toccare 2 Harrah’s Atlantic City, Red Door Spa 3 Bally’s Atlantic City, The Spa at Bally’s • Chicagoland 1 Blue Chip, Spa Blu 2 Jumer’s Casino Rock Island, Salon & Spa • Detroit 1 Caesars Windsor, Estetica Spa 2 MGM Grand Detroit, Immerse Spa • Gulf Coast 1 Beau Rivage, The Spa at Beau Rivage 2 Hard Rock Biloxi, Rock Spa 3 Grand Casino Biloxi, Bellissimo Spa & Salon  • Las Vegas Downtown 1 Golden Nugget, Spa • Las Vegas Local 1 M Resort, Spa Mio 2 Rio, Rio Spa & Salon 3 Red Rock, Red Rock Spa • Las Vegas Strip 1 Caesars Palace, Qua Baths & Spa  2 Bellagio, Spa & Salon 3 Wynn, The Spa  • Laughlin 1 Harrah’s Laughlin, Salon and Day Spa • Louisiana 1 Horseshoe Bossier City, Sedona Spa and Health Club 2 L’auberge du Lac, Spa and Salon • Native Midwest 1 Mountaineer, Spa 2 Grand Casino Hinckley, Grand Harmony Spa 3 Soaring Eagle, Soaring Eagle Spa • Native Northeast 1 Mohegan Sun, The Spa 2 Foxwoods, Norwich Spa 3 Seneca Niagara, The Spa • Native Northwest 1 Thunder Valley, The Spa at Thunder Valley 2 Cache Creek, The Spa at Cache Creek 3 Jackson Rancheria, Tangerine Day Spa • Native West 1 Harrah’s Rincon, The Spa at Harrah’s Rincon 2 Pechanga, Spa Pechanga 3 Agua Caliente, Sunstone Spa • Pennsylvania 1 Mt. Airy Resort, The Spa • Racinos 1 Dover Downs, Toppers Spa Salon • Reno 1 Atlantis Reno, Spa Atlantis 2 Peppermill, Spa Toscana 3 Silver Legacy, Reno Health Club & Spa • Southern Indiana 1 Belterra, Spa and Salon • Tahoe 1 Cal Neva Resort, Spa 2 Montbleu Casino, Onsen Salon & Spa 3 Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Reflextions Spa • Tunica 1 Hollywood Tunica, Bellissimo Spa & Salon 2 Gold Strike, Spa

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