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The Best of Racinos Awards 2021

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Strictly Slots magazine’s annual survey of the country’s favorite racinos

By Sean Chaffin

As gaming returns to full form in 2021, racinos are sure to be a big part of that. For many gaming fans, a racino offers the best of both worlds—casino gambling and racing. These facilities offer gamblers a great experience, from excellent dining and gaming to world-class racing, entertainment and hotels. There’s something for everyone at one of the country’s numerous racino facilities.

When Iowa’s Prairie Meadows racetrack added slots in 1996, a new segment of the gaming industry was born. That effort revived the struggling racetrack and added the term “racino” (combination of “casino” and “racetrack”) to the world of gambling. Many enjoyed the opportunity to gamble both on horses or dogs as well as casino games and slots.

After Prairie Meadows, more states embraced the idea of racetrack slots and table games to not only enhance the horse-racing industry but also to add to state tax revenue. There’s a wide spectrum of venues across the country—from small facilities only offering a limited number of games to larger, full-scale resorts with hotels, brilliant dining options, major entertainment performances and more.

Strictly Slots stays on top of the best in gaming and highlights some of the best properties in the industry. Our gaze now turns to some of the best racinos across the country. There are numerous caveats to consider and properties are grouped in numerous categories that may appeal to various types of gamblers and interests. This year’s awards take a look at new slots and casino expansions, entertainment options, new property openings, player promotions, restaurants and much more.

The Best Of Racinos focuses on categories fitting for the racino industry—ranging from slots, table games and racing to food options and service. As with other “Best Of” surveys in Strictly Slots and Casino Player, readers also contributed with their favorite racinos across the numerous categories. Here are the results of those votes, readers’ selections for this year’s best of the best among the nation’s racinos. Check out how others ranked your favorite local or favorite racino. Better yet, find a venue that looks appealing and plan on getting out for some racing and slot machine play. Thanks for voting and kudos to all of the winning properties for 2021!

 

RESORT CATEGORIES

Best Overall Racino

A trip to the racetrack or casino for a night out with friends may not have been an option in 2020. But with so many vaccinations and mask mandates getting lifted, Americans are returning in droves to casinos, tracks and sportsbooks across the country. A racino can be a great way to combine all of this.

Many states allow racetracks to also house casinos, many with slots, table games, and even sportsbooks in some states. Some even have world-class hotels and other entertainment options. The gaming scene in the casino also promises a shot at some big payouts in a fun environment. Players will find a similar experience and gaming options to those found in traditional casinos around the country.

After some time in the casino, placing a few bets on the ponies may be in order. Racing fans will enjoy world-class thoroughbred, quarter horse and harness racing action. That can also include some time in the simulcast pavilion for even more action. Just grab a racing form and take a seat to handicap that upcoming race.

A day at a racino offers plenty of fun and excitement. Inviting a few friends or family members can make it even better. As you begin planning that next gaming getaway, here’s a look at some of the best racinos in the country.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel

New Mexico: Zia Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

 

Best Casino

Some of the best casinos have a little of everything: a great atmosphere in a cool environment; great food and drinks; friendly dealers and staff members; wonderful hotels with a warm and inviting atmosphere; clean and high-end facilities; and an overall package that leaves players wanting more.

Former owner of Binion’s Horseshoe and founder of the World Series of Poker Benny Binion understood the importance of providing value to customers. His thoughts may be a little gruff, befitting the man’s personality, but offer some insight that still stands the test of time.

“People want good whiskey, cheap, good food, cheap, and a square gamble,” he once noted on service to gamblers. “Make the little man feel like a big man.”

It’s not easy to be among the properties in this category, but these casinos offer great value and make everyone feel special. Earning these honors takes an overall approach to quality and customer service with commitment to going the extra mile for gamblers at every level and in every department. Gamblers know that these properties aim to please and are never afraid to ask for help or reach out to a team member for a special request.

These properties set themselves apart on a daily basis and take pleasing customers and visitors to heights not reached by others. Getting to this level takes top-notch management and a desire to be the best.

Arkansas: Southland Casino Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

New Mexico: Sunland Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Empire City Casino

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: Parx Casino & Racing

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best Hotel

For many, just a night away from home is the best part of a trip to a casino. That could include a large bed with comfortable sheets and linens, a large bathroom with comfortable shower and tub, comfortable furniture and surroundings, and top-notch room amenities travelers have come to expect.

Beyond the room, what about the pool, spa and other facilities? More properties also now cater to families with some amazing features from water slides and beach clubs to bowling alleys and movie theaters. Room service and the cleaning staff also work hard to please hotel guests at every turn at these hotels.

Today’s modern casino-hotel looks to offer numerous options in a high-class and stylish environment. These hotels are doing that and continue to work for an even higher-level experience.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Dover Downs

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel

New Mexico: Sunland Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort

 

Best Rooms

Gone are the days of a simple bed, color TV and local phone calls. Who wouldn’t want soft, luxurious linens for a comfortable night’s sleep? Gamblers expect more now after a night at the tables—immaculately clean rooms, exceptional room service, comfortable beds and furniture, a nice whirlpool tub and rainwater shower head for ultimate relaxation, and Wi-Fi and high-def flat-screen TVs.

Even if it’s been a tough day at the slots or table games, a brilliant room can ease that financial pain and make for a great trip away from home. A nice view of the Vegas Strip, Atlantic City Boardwalk or sandy beaches only adds to the experience. These hotels are certainly worth adding to your list of must-visit properties—enjoy!

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Dover Downs

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel

New Mexico: Zia Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, Hard Rock Hotel& Casino Tulsa

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort

 

Best Fine Dining

These properties’ restaurants will leave you wanting more—from fine steak and chops, to lobster and seafood, to regional comfort food, to Mexican and Asian fare. Make it a special night with friends and family at the steakhouse. A nice dish cooked just right? Check. A nice bottle of fine wine to make the experience even more special? Check. Now maybe end things with a delectable dessert.

If seafood is higher on the list, order some lobster or king crab. Keep the craft beers and cocktails coming as you enjoy some great atmosphere and conversation. This category is certainly tough, as so many casinos now specialize in great dining options. However, these casinos offer hungry diners just a little more. Make a reservation and bring an appetite.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, The Bugler

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park, Legends

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park, Farradday’s Steakhouse

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, Center Cut

Louisiana: Fairgrounds Race Course & Slots, Clubhouse Dining Room

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque, The Crown Room

New York: Morton’s The Steakhouse, Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming, Cin City Sea & Steak

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Bistecca

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, LBV Steak & Pasta

 

Best Casual Dining

Not everything that makes for terrific dining need be an event unto itself. Some of the best food in a casino can come from the quick eateries that dot the property. Sometimes they’re large, themed concoctions, while others present as mere nooks just waiting to be explored. But this year’s winners have one thing in common—they all offer unbeatable quality food for guests who don’t want to spend hours sitting at a table.

From mile-high pastrami sandwiches dripping with juice to char-broiled burgers, deep dish pizza and decadent desserts, sometimes the tastiest dining options are the ones without all the pomp and grandeur. Just grab a seat and dig in!

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing, Bourbon Street Steakhouse

Delaware: Harrington Raceway & Casino, Onion Jack’s

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino, Texas de Brazil

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Homestretch Clubhouse

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, AJ’s Steakhouse

Louisiana: Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino, The Spotted Horse

New Mexico: SunRay Park & Casino, Sportz Arena

New York: Batavia Downs, Labatt Blue Zone at 34 Rush

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino, Millecreek Grille

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racing Casino, Bricktown Brewery

Pennsylvania: Presque Isle Downs & Casino, Churchill’s Bourbon & Brew

West Virginia: Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, Café Orleans

 

Best Lounge

Cool tunes, relaxing vibes and great cocktails, beer selections and customer service. That’s what casino-goers expect from a lounge or bar scene. Maybe the music turns it up and it’s time to hit the dance floor. Maybe it’s a cool night out or a few minutes away from the slot machines to catch up with friends. Perhaps it’s a night out for some conversation with someone you just met.

A lounge or bar adds much to a casino experience. These establishments serve up much more than just a great drink—skilled bartenders and mixologists, friendly waiters and waitresses, and an experience like no other. Dress up a bit, invite some friends, and enjoy a great night out at one of these bars and lounges. A good time awaits.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, The First Turn

Delaware: Harrington Raceway & Casino, Bonz Lounge

Florida: Gulfstream Park, Strike 10 Bowling, Sports, Lounge

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Pegasus Lounge

Louisiana: Delta Downs, Gator Lounge

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque, First Turn Lounge

New York: Empire City Casino, The Pub

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino, CENTERbar

Pennsylvania: Parx Casino & Racing, Chickie’s & Pete’s

 

Friendliest Racino

A desire for a great customer experience is a huge part of this category. From the betting window at the racetrack to the restaurant wait staff to the customer service in the slot machine area to the dealers in the pit. It takes considerable effort to get an entire casino on board with staff greeting players with a smile and showing a friendly demeanor. These types of properties have employees always willing to help find an answer to a question or find the right person who does.

Friendliness goes a long way in earning customer loyalty. Beyond just the gambling floor or racetrack, these racinos offer a great atmosphere with a friendly environment. That certainly pleases gamblers—win or lose. Head to these tracks or casinos for a great time and plenty of friendly faces.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

New Mexico: Ruidoso Downs

New York: Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

 

GAMING CATEGORIES

Best Variety of Slots/VLTS

The reels, those lucky 7s, bars, bells, video spectacles, on-screen explosions, movie stars, pop musicians, TV shows, multipliers, and of course, those bonus games. If you can dream it, it’s probably in a slot machine somewhere. From traditional, old-school slot machines to modern games with multi-lines, plenty of action and a shot at some really big bucks, there is a machine to suit any mood.

While some players stick to the same machine, many like to jump around from machine to machine, hoping to time it right for a jackpot or just for something new to suit their taste at the moment. Variety is nice and appeals to all kinds of gamblers.

There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to this category. It’s important that a property have differing limits to appeal to slot players of all bankrolls. And who doesn’t like a shot at gigantic money? So some major progressive machines are certainly a good idea. A nice high-limit area also makes for a good experience for those looking to play even bigger.

When it comes to games, variety is certainly the slice of life: differing themes, traditional “reel” machines, celebrities, Flaming 7s, bars, fruit—there has to be a little of everything as properties try to appeal to numerous players. Here’s a look at some properties doing it right and keeping those players coming in the doors.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs

New Mexico: Zia Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Empire City Casino

Ohio: Eldorado Scioto Downs

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best Slot Tournaments

Tournaments in the slot area seem to just add some extra excitement during some time at the machines. You’re spinning those reels as fast as possible while battling it out against other players. Have you banked enough? Spin, spin, spin, and hopefully you’ll wind up in the winner’s circle.

More and more properties have made slot tournaments a major part of the experience at the casino. It takes some time and organization, but well-run tournaments offer something extra with a bit of competition mixed into a day of gambling. A great tournament experience also keeps players coming back for the thrill of the clock counting down, desire to win, and prestige of having one’s name called by the host as a winner. These properties are doing it right—catering to slot players with a great tournament scene.

Arkansas: Southland Casino & Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

 

Best High-End Slot Area

Players looking for a bit more action may want to seek out the higher end and higher limits of the slot machine echelon. In general, players earn higher payout percentages and bigger payouts for a premium buy-in. There’s also more exclusivity that comes with a trip to the high-limit area, and players have come to expect cushier amenities and ambience.

Beyond that, higher-limit players have a chance at bigger comps and perks. Casinos recognize higher limits of play and many reward players accordingly. Properties cater to these players and make them feel welcome and appreciated—that may include high-end beverages and service, food comps and much more. These properties are going big in catering to high-limit players.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Dover Downs

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs

New Mexico: Zia Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Casino

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: Presque Isle Downs & Casino

West Virginia: Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

 

Best Video Poker

Video poker can be one of the best bets in a casino for those with a good sense of basic strategy and knowledge of the right machines. The game may be a bit of an afterthought in recent years with the emergence of the glitz and glamour of American slot machines. But a night out playing some video poker can make for a fun and even lucrative night at the local casino.

And when it comes to video poker, there are some options. Some machines have better payouts than others. There are games that allow players to be dealt as many as 50 or 100 games at once—making for nice payouts when you hit a big hand. There are also numerous variations offered. These casinos are making sure players have the best options and experience at the machines.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

New Mexico: Sunland Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best Table Games

While most players reading this enjoy time at the slot machines, a night at the casino also includes a lucky roll of the dice, a spinning roulette wheel, or doubling down for a nice win at the blackjack table. A night wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the green felt, and that goes beyond more than just the traditional favorites.

In recent years, casinos have gone beyond blackjack, roulette and craps. There are variations on blackjack like Spanish 21 and 21+3, and even more poker offerings like Mississippi Stud, Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, and Pai Gow. Gamblers are looking for a nice game, fun atmosphere, and skilled, entertaining dealers. Whether you’re a $5 casual baccarat player or taking that time at the Blackjack table seriously, these properties aim to please and deal the best games possible.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Dover Downs

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

New Mexico: SunRay Park & Casino

New York: Tioga Downs

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Mardi Gras Casino and Resort

 

Best Poker

Poker is America’s game and its popularity has continued to grow in recent years as series like the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour attract players from all walks of life looking for a big score. With millions of players getting in on the action each year, for many gamblers a trip to a casino wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the poker room.

Whether you’re a $1-$2 cash-game grinder or looking for a $25,000 high roller, there are numerous poker rooms catering to all levels of players. Some host major or mid-level tournament series and others run their own regular tournaments with big fields. Poker rooms with great dealers, nice comps and waitstaff, and a relaxing environment can garner plenty of loyalty from recreational and professional players alike. When it comes to catering to poker players, these casinos are dealing a full house.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing and Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

New Mexico: SunRay Park & Casino

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best Players Club

Don’t forget your card! Well if you do, no worries. These properties’ friendly player’s club staff are ready to greet you with a smile and print you another. Virtually every casino now has a player’s club, rewarding players for their action at the tables or slots. Rewards can range from free meals and hotel rooms to even bigger prizes like cars and cruises. Some loyalty programs even allow players to spend their reward balance in casino shops and restaurants instead of cash.

These programs have become the norm in the industry, but some offer players more bang for the buck than others. That includes more points earned, better and more creative rewards and prizes, and great customer service that caters to players. Here’s a look at some loyalty programs that earn players’ loyalty for much more than just points on a card.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing, Lucky North Club Card

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park, Players Reward Club

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park, My Fan Club

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Caesars Rewards

Louisiana: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Caesars Rewards

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque, Players Club

New York: Tioga Downs, Tioga Rewards Club

Ohio: Eldorado Scioto Downs, Caesars Rewards

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, One Star Rewards

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono, Momentum

West Virginia: Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, Lucky North Club

 

Best Promotions

Everyone likes to feel like a VIP and get some special treatment. When it comes to casino marketing and promotions, that’s the goal—make customers feel special and offer some unique promotions to keep players excited and coming back. Whether that’s Senior Sundays, Military Mondays or a big discount on the seafood buffet on Wednesdays, casinos go out of their way to offer some unique promotions for guests.

That goes beyond gaming and may extend to restaurants, clubs and shopping. Some properties keep promotions to a minimum while others go out of their way to offer players some extra incentive and excitement—from bonus chips to free slot play to two-for-one buffets. The casinos in this category stand out for their promotional prowess.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Harrington Raceway & Casino

Florida: Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino

New Mexico: Ruidoso Downs

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort

 

Best Comps

Whether it’s a nice steak dinner, free slot play or a night’s stay in the hotel, comps can add a lot to a player’s thoughts about a property. It’s important to join a player’s club and accumulate points as those reels spin or when heading to the pit for some table games action. Had a big night at the tables or played some big limits? A comped suite or buffet can certainly add to the experience.

And when it comes to earning points toward comps, some properties go the extra mile in rewarding players to keep those points accruing faster. Keeping all that in mind, here’s a look at some properties catering to their clientele—keeping customers coming back and throwing some freebies and extras their way in the process.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque

New York: Tioga Downs

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs

Pennsylvania: Parx Casino & Racing

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort

 

Best Hosts

Win or lose, hosts can make any trip to the casino an enjoyable experience. The service-oriented staff members help with problems, questions and much more. Any reasonable request is not out of bounds in asking these professionals who hope to make your trip perfect.

While they may not be able to fulfill every request, many hosts go above and beyond. Whether on the Strip in Las Vegas or at a casino along the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, some properties encourage extra efforts in this type of service. The properties take the saying “service with a smile” seriously. Looking for a ticket to that night’s show? What about a limo to the airport later in the week? While every wish may not be possible, it never hurts to ask—especially at these casinos.

Delaware: Dover Downs

Florida: Calder Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Louisiana: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

New Mexico: Zia Park Casino Racetrack

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming

Pennsylvania: Presque Isle

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Racino Where You Feel Luckiest

Luck may be a figment of the imagination, but a great vibe and atmosphere can certainly go a long way in making players feel like they’re sitting on a horseshoe or just found a four-leaf clover. Randomness isn’t quite as fun as thinking you’re on a real lucky streak. A heater is much more exciting than theory and statistics.

With that in mind, these properties foster a sense of luck, whether real or imagined. Maybe you just seem to have good days at that property or it just seemed like you were close to a big win or jackpot. Maybe customers seem to think the property has loose slots or some juicy poker or blackjack tables. There’s an old axiom that it’s better to be lucky than good. Whatever the case, these casinos seem to fit the bill when it comes to getting lucky.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque

New York: Batavia Downs

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs

Pennsylvania: Parx Casino & Racing

West Virginia: Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

 

RACING CATEGORIES

** Best Live Racing

Grab your program and handicap those horses. Whether you’re at the simulcast area for a Triple Crown wager or trackside on a nice day watching the action, a trip to take in some horse racing is always fun and offers a chance at hitting it big. The color and pageantry of the jockeys, horses and winner’s circle make for a gambling experience like no other.

And tracks have moved beyond simple beer and burgers. Many now offer fine dining, craft beers and even more advanced dining at the concession stands. Others also cater to families with special events and offer music concerts after and between races. For an experience in style, spring for some box seating and private monitors to take in the action on the track.

There is a racetrack experience for everyone—and that doesn’t even necessarily include big bets at the window. However, those looking for some great betting options will find some fantastic races at these facilities with quality horses, great jockeys and trainers, and modern, clean venues. Those new to horse racing shouldn’t fret, track officials are always willing to offer some advice and even newbies may walk away winners with a little luck.

These tracks aim to make it a great experience both on the track and off. Grab a beer and check out the odds on those ponies—and hope your horse noses it out if there’s a photo finish.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: Eldorado Scioto Downs

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

West Virginia: Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

 

Best Race & Sportsbook

This category will continue to get even more competitive in the coming years as an increasing number of states legalize sports wagering. NFL Sunday in the sportsbook makes for a great afternoon with friends. Maybe you’d like a nice cocktail, beer or a premium cigar. Watch your bets as they play out on the big screens above the betting windows.

Maybe one team looks even more impressive. Make that futures wager so you can follow your team’s action all year. Or perhaps check out the odds and make those basketball, hockey or baseball wagers. Some simulcast wagering on horses may also be in the cards.

These books have a wide variety of wagering options with high-end amenities. In some states, they may even offer a convenient mobile app to place those wagers 24/7 anywhere in that state. Make your selection, sit back, and cheer on your team at these popular establishments.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Dover Downs

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

New York: Empire City Casino

Ohio: Belterra Park

Pennsylvania: Harrah’s Philadelphia

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort

 

Best Grandstand

These may not be box seats, but can definitely be where all the fun is. They may be the cheap seats, but many tracks have some nice extras for this type of seating. That can include shaded seating to avoid a sunburn, bars and food options nearby, and even betting windows within a short walking distance. Many tracks even offer betting windows or kiosks right next to the grandstand areas.

Ice-cold refreshments and a great view of the track—and even the finish line—certainly can add to the experience. At these properties, the grandstand area may be the place to be—big cheers when those horses reach the backstretch and an even wilder celebration when that longshot pays off. Grab your lucky charm and take a grandstand seat at these tracks.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: Belterra Park

Oklahoma: Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best VIP Area

While you may not necessarily be a VIP, being treated like one certainly is nice and this category offers a look at some tracks that offer some real betting in style. Whether in a box overlooking the finish line or at a primo table at a trackside restaurant, VIP seating can add to an experience. That may include high-end cocktails, vintage bottles of wine, and delectable dining.

Some VIP areas even offer a personal wagering kiosk for selecting those winners. A relaxed area, plush furniture options and excellent viewing, including flat-screen TVs, may all be part of the package. Get some friends together and hit the valet parking (or maybe spring for a limo) for a big night out at the track at these top-notch properties.

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel

New Mexico: Ruidoso Downs

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Casino

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racing Casino

Pennsylvania: Harrah’s Philadelphia

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best View

The track, the horses and an amazing view—this is the experience at some tracks across the country. Depending on the location, the wide expanse of a horse track can offer much more than just the action on the dirt or turf below. Some offer amazing mountainous views. Others offer lush green foliage to backdrop the racing action on the track. Other places even offer ocean views—“where the surf meets the turf,” as Bing Crosby once sang about Del Mar in California.

Bring some sunglasses and relax with some natural beauty—a glass of wine might even be on the menu. Win or lose, the outdoor setting and beautiful view at these tracks make for a great day handicapping the ponies. Hitting that big trifecta only makes the experience even better.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Dover Downs

Florida: Gulfstream Park Casino

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino

New Mexico: The Downs at Albuquerque

New York: Batavia Downs

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: Mohegan Sun Pocono

West Virginia: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

 

Best Concessions

Whether you’re health conscious and looking for a salad or inclined for a tasty cheeseburger and fries, a nice bite to eat is always in order at the track. Some tracks have moved beyond typical track or casino fare, and now have other delicious options to choose from. That might include dishes like sushi, street tacos, custom burritos and plenty of sweets like ice cream.

Today’s track concession stands appeal to a broader group of fans. And those looking to imbibe in a nice cocktail or beer will also find a wide variety of beverages and bars. Fans at these tracks don’t have to worry about food options after working up an appetite. Place your order and enjoy!

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park

Indiana: Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Louisiana: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

New Mexico: Ruidoso Downs

New York: Vernon Downs

Ohio: JACK Thistledown Racino

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: The Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel

West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort

 

Best Simulcasting

You don’t have to wait for live racing season to put a few bucks on a horse. Simply head to the track’s simulcast area or a local off-track betting facility in some states, to bet on races from across the country. Some facilities even carry races from other countries. Grab a private seat with your own TV and scan over those horse and track statistics.

The great thing about heading to the track for some simulcast wagering is that bettors can get more action going all at once. With so many races underway, you can always have a horse running—hopefully cashing more tickets in the process. Hit on more of those than you lose and it could be a nice day. These simulcast areas also offer plenty of amenities from rewards programs to fine dining to cool bars to down a beer and keep the wagering going. Bettors will enjoy these venues no matter how many tickets they cash.

Arkansas: Southland Casino and Racing

Delaware: Casino at Delaware Park

Florida: Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

New Mexico: SunRay Park & Casino

New York: Tioga Downs

Ohio: Miami Valley Gaming

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: Harrah’s Philadelphia

West Virginia: Mardi Gras Casino and Resort

 

Best Special Events

One of the great things about a horse track is that its size allows for some special events to appeal to a wider number of customers. These events leave visitors with some entertainment beyond the horses on the track. For some facilities, that includes major name concerts, fireworks displays for big days like July 4, carnivals, live music between races, and much more.

More tracks also attempt to appeal to families and may offer events catering to kids like face painting, petting zoos and bounce houses. Some tracks even offer a few races featuring zebras, camels and ostriches between races. These racing venues go above and beyond in offering all kinds of events to entertain fans. Don’t forget your lawn chair and sun block.

Delaware: Dover Downs

Florida: Isle Casino Pompano Park

Indiana: Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Louisiana: Delta Downs

New Mexico: Ruidoso Downs

New York: Saratoga Casino & Raceway

Ohio: Belterra Park

Oklahoma: Remington Park Racetrack & Casino

Pennsylvania: Harrah’s Philadelphia

West Virginia: Wheeling Island

 

Best Online Racing

Simulcast racing offers a chance to bet on numerous tracks across the country, but in some states you don’t even have to leave your couch. In legalized jurisdictions, bettors can bet on differing races online or via a mobile app. The simplicity of depositing and selecting a track and making a bet make this an easy way to get in on the action.

For major events like the Breeders Cup and Triple Crown, online wagering helps bettors beat the crowds and allows for placing that bet when you can’t get down to the track or OTB. Online operators offer numerous rewards and bonuses for depositing and using the service. Some of these in legal jurisdictions also offer sports betting as well. Simply take out your phone and voila! Pick a winner and watch those winnings get sent straight to your online account.

Arkansas: Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Delaware: Dover Downs

Iowa: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino

Louisiana: Fair Grounds

New York: Empire City Casino

Pennsylvania: Parx Casino & Racing

 

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and senior writer for Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions or email him at seanchaffin@sbcglobal.net for story assignments.

 

 

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