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Feel The Thunder

Strictly Slots goes off to the races with a look at some of the best racinos in the country

By Karrie L. Zukowski


For many gambling enthusiasts, racinos are the best of both worlds—the thrill of betting on live horse or dog races, combined with all the slot machine and table game action you could ask for. Throw in some fine dining, luxurious hotels and amenities, top-notch entertainment options and high-end shopping, and the “new breed” of racinos offer a perfect getaway for slot and casino enthusiasts.

The number of racinos, and the scope of their facilities, soared over the last decade as more racetracks sought to add slot machines and tables, and state legislatures loosened their laws to accommodate them. In some cases, famous (but financially insolvent) racetracks were able to survive and thrive by adding casinos— whether it consisted of a slot parlor or a full-blown gaming hall with machines and tables.

Now let’s run down some of the most popular racinos in the industry and show you why these hybrid properties are generating excitement among all types of betting enthusiasts.


Delaware Park Casino and Racing Wilmington, DE

Delaware Park Casino and Racing is an all-encompassing gaming facility conveniently located minutes south of Wilmington and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Along with the excitement of over 2,000 popular themed slot machines on two spacious smoke-free levels and live table games including blackjack, roulette and craps, they offer live thoroughbred racing starting on May 25 and concluding on Nov. 5. Highlights of the 85th racing season include nearly $3 million in stakes purses and the Grade III Delaware Oaks on July 2; and the $500,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap on July 9. Now, add to that year-round simulcast wagering, delicious dining options and full sports betting on all professional and college sports, and you have a unique mix of amenities—truly making Delaware Park a diverse entertainment experience, deserving of your votes for the Best of Racino Awards.

The Delaware Park Player Rewards Club offers something for everyone with new tiers and more benefits. Don’t miss out on your chance to start receiving such benefits as special invitations to exclusive events and promotions, entries for Player Rewards sweepstakes, quarterly rewards, exclusive shopping at the “Members Only Traditions Boutique” and more frequent gift giveaways. Current new member offers include the choice of $30 in free bets to table game players or three chances to spin for up to 300 slot dollars total.

There are eight exceptional dining options to satisfy any craving. The best place to catch all the day’s racing action is the Del’Cap, whose walls are adorned with wooden replicas of past Delaware Handicap champions’ silks (shirts the jockeys wear that designate owners’ colors). Grab your favorite drink and enjoy a wide variety of your favorite comfort foods, along with daily specials.

The Terrace is an upscale-casual dining room, encased in glass to offer a perfect view of the track and complete with a personal tabletop TV monitor during Live Race Days only. The New Castle Room is a multipurpose dining room featuring large video walls for watching all the live racing action and daily sporting events. Open during Live Race Days, it’s perfect for your next big event or business meeting. Stop in and try the delicious hot sandwiches and appetizers.

For another upscale dining experience in an elegant Victorian setting, Racing Legends is the place to go featuring ocean-fresh seafood, tender steaks, home-style soups and the signature entrée— Delaware Park Crab Cakes.

Looking for something quick? Stop by Rooney’s Deli, serving award-winning specialty sandwiches, a variety of paninis, fresh salads, daily soup specials and more. On A Roll Deli is an “on-the-go” dining option with plenty of seating—offering a complete breakfast menu, subs, cheeses-teaks and more in a friendly atmosphere. A Delaware Park favorite and adjacent to the Poker Room, Picciotti’s Pizzeria offers brick-oven pizza, strombolis, salads and subs—along with a full bar offering local craft beer.

Speaking of beer, there’s a new brew in town: 1937 Brewing Company. In response to local demand for a comfortable, relaxing environment, a first-class brewery is the perfect addition. 1937 Brewing Company offers gastropub selections, unique cocktails, a happy hour, and of course, house-made craft beer selections, with an “old school” décor and retro atmosphere. Delaware Park has bragging rights by creating another “first” in the First State: the first craft brewery in a Delaware casino.

For more information on all that Delaware Park has to offer, visit


Oak Grove Racing & Gaming Oak Grove, KY

Get ready for Vegas thrills, minus the flight, at Oak Grove Racing & Gaming. Hit it big with over 1,300 state-of-the-art gaming machines with denominations of as little as a penny and bets as low as 10 cents. Plus, enjoy exclusive game themes like Stinkin’ Rich, Zhen Chan, Ultimate Fire Link By The Bay and more! Get ready for a better place to play. Vegas-sized thrills are coming your way with the latest and greatest games.

Playing at Oak Grove is even more rewarding when you join the Players Club. Enjoy exclusive benefits, like new member tier match and bonus Free Play offers right out of the gate. Plus, signing up is fast, free and easy. Just a few of the benefits you can receive by using your Oak Grove Gaming Players Card are free play, monthly food and hotel offers, exclusive invitations to events and parties, discounted services, tickets to live entertainment and reserved secure parking.

Watch and wager with Oak Grove. The simulcast betting room is equipped with five United Tote self-betting terminals. Place your wagers directly at the terminals and watch the races on the 10- screen display wall for max viewing enjoyment.

Savor all the finest flavors at four fantastic restaurants, including the signature steakhouse, Garrison Oak, Sgt. Pepper’s Burgers and Po’Boys, O’Dark Thirty Coffee House and the The Lucky Lime.

For more information, visit


JACK Thistledown Racino North Randall, OH

At JACK Thistledown Racino, you will find over 1,400 of the newest, hottest VLT machines. Whether you enjoy trying your luck at penny VLT games or prefer to explore the gaming machines in the VIP area, JACK has your game. Popular machines include River Dragons, Dancing Drums, Dragon Link, Lightning Link, 5 Dragons Grand and Ultimate Fire Link, just to name a few.

ClubJACK is your exclusive opportunity to earn points faster than ever before. With Free Play you can use 24/7, best-in-class comps and exciting benefits like trips to Las Vegas, the Caribbean and more. No other loyalty card comes close.

For a contactless experience, use JACK Entertainment’s mobile app as your ClubJACK rewards card. Use Bluetooth to connect to any game on the casino floor, including table games, to track your play without having to insert a physical card. Connect via Bluetooth to log in to promotional kiosks, removing the need to swipe, and skip the lines to redeem earned gift cards through a simple tap of a button and have it mailed directly to your home.

Join JACK Thistledown for another fantastic season of live racing beginning April 25, and simulcast is also available.

Whether you’re looking for a quick bite while you play, a nice meal while enjoying the races, or just somewhere to unwind with your favorite cocktail, JACK Thistledown Racino has what you’re looking for. Millcreek Grille is the newest restaurant. The dishes are made from scratch and locally sourced with a focus on farm-to-table ingredients. Watch your pasta made by expert chefs right in front of you at Nonna Pazza—always with fresh ingredients and sauces made from scratch. The American Burger Bar features big, juicy burgers with build-your-own options, fries, a variety of breakfast choices and much more.

Come for the horse races and then stay for the gaming. Check out the options at JACK Thistledown Racino at


Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs Columbus, OH

Eldorado Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio is a premiere gambling and entertainment destination where gaming and excitement is 24/7. Scioto Downs has a Vegas-style gaming venue featuring the hottest and newest games to Central Ohio.

Eldorado Scioto Downs continually updates the gaming floor with new and popular game themes. These games include the Buffalo Cash Express Luxury Line, Buffalo Chief, Buffalo Link, Cash Machine, Crazy Rich Asians, Dancing Drums Prosperity and much more.

Live harness racing at the Scioto Downs track runs from May 12 until September 17. Experience the thrill of live harness racing at Scioto Downs with special events and promotions. Use your Caesars Rewards card to get in on all of the action this season.

Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts have come together to create new experiences for you. Sign up for your Caesars Rewards main account, link your local account and do more. The more you play and enjoy all the great entertainment options offered at over 50 Caesars Rewards destinations  the more Tier Credits you’ll earn and the more benefits you will unlock.

In addition to state-of-the-art gaming and thunderous horse racing, Scioto Downs caters to all your dining needs.

From burgers to wood-fired pizzas, The Brew Brothers is dishing up great food every day – perfect to pair with one of the specialty craft brews. This state-of-the-art Microbrewery features 10 brewing vessels, an open view brew room, a 44-foot-long bar, outdoor patio with fire pit, 37- foot tall grain silo, wood-burning pizza oven, 19 75 high-definition televisions and a 16-foot big screen. Ten drafts custom brewed in-house, locally crafted beers, additional commercial offerings as well as enormous televisions, what’s not to love!

The place for the guest who wants a quick bite or drink before heading back to the gaming floor is Dash Café. Located in the gaming area, the Dash Café menu includes a selection of burgers, salads, snacks, desserts and ice-cold beverages.

For more information, visit


Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort Hot Springs, AR

Located in Hot Springs National Park, AR, Oaklawn has been one of the premier Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904, best known as home of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Today, Oaklawn is Arkansas’ #1 tourist destination. The newly expanded, state-of-the art casino is open 24/7 and offers live craps, live blackjack, popular slot games, live music and the award-winning Silks Bar & Grill. Plus, a sports-book area that’s great for watching and wagering on all sports.

Take a seat at one of the exciting table games and try your luck at a new level of winning. Whether you’re a new player or an expert, the casino floor has a wide variety of table games. With 32 tables currently, you’re sure to find the lucky table for you! Games include blackjack, craps, Three Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, Fusion Auto Roulette, Fusion Blackjack and Interblock Craps.

For the slot enthusiast there are thousands of ways to play. With denominations starting at 1-cent, Oaklawn has a wide selection of slots with over 1,500 machines, including video poker. Some hot slots featured are Black Diamond Platinum; Buffalo Diamond; Buffalo Gold Collection; Cash Machine; Cats, Hats, and More Bats; Crazy Money Deluxe; Dancing Drums; and Double Easy Money, just to name a few.

When you need a break from all the excitement, stop in at any of the outstanding restaurants.

The Bugler, overlooking Oaklawn’s legendary racetrack, is the perfect combination of upscale dining and casual elegance. It offers an array of American cuisine including carefully selected fish and steaks, complete with a large outdoor patio and stylish interior showcasing the history of Oaklawn.

With more than 22 large-screen TVs throughout, Silks Bar & Grill is the perfect place to watch the big game. The menu features all the popular favorites such as hot wings, burgers and Oaklawn’s classic Reuben sandwiches, as well as other delicious mainstays.

Enjoy Oaklawn’s world-famous corned beef sandwich in the newly remodeled Post Parade, offering tableside service and large-screen TVs for viewing live racing.

Take a step back in time and enjoy the family-friendly Big Al’s Diner & Deli. This ’50s-themed eatery features mouthwatering burgers, sandwiches, salads and homemade shakes. Big Al’s is the perfect place to grab a quick meal in a fun, casual atmosphere.

To make reservations for live racing or for more information, visit

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