Gambling is a huge industry in the United States, and it takes a myriad of different forms. If you know where to look, there’s a great deal of history and culture to be found in the simple act of throwing the dice. While there are many top opportunities for gamblers nationwide, some of the best and most unusual options await discovery in these five states.
Although it may not be the first gambler’s retreat to come to mind, New Jersey’s Atlantic City was the original gambler’s paradise, and it remains prolific to this day. 12 brick-and-mortar casinos are still going strong across the state, and contribute to the annual casino revenue of $2.87 billion. Those searching for the best online casinos in NJ need not look far, as New Jersey also carries the distinction of having completely legalized online gambling, effectively ending Nevada’s monopoly in the sphere. Even as gambling laws are steadily getting reevaluated in neighboring states and Atlantic City faces increased competition, the history and nostalgia of New Jersey continues to offer one of the most attractive gambling prospects in the US, all without the extreme heat of Vegas.
The desert state is home to the gambler’s capital of the world, drawing travelers from destinations across the globe. The fact that more than 50 million people visit Nevada each year just to try their chances with Lady Luck demonstrates the pull power of Las Vegas, the long-reigning champion of the casino world. Las Vegas is favored amongst gambling enthusiasts for many reasons, not least its alluring sense of lawlessness and impressive technological investments in the gambling industry. Approximately half of the 265 casinos in the state belong to Las Vegas, but those who live further afield also have a range of options at their disposal, including tribal gambling, poker, and betting at the horse races.
Despite the relative newness of the gambling industry in Pennsylvania, where gambling was illegal until 2004, the 13 casinos which have since opened are proving extraordinarily popular with locals and visitors, offering popular games such as slots and poker. In the city of Philadelphia, placing a bet at the races is also actively encouraged, but the real novelty value exists in the Pocono Mountains, where 26 of the 635 accommodation options are classified as casino hotels. These casino resorts offer an endless array of machines and games to please gambling fiends, all set against the backdrop of an incredible natural landscape and surrounded by a range of free entertainment options. Whether you opt for the Mohegan Sun, the Mount Airy Casino Resort, or the Country Place Inn and Suites, you’ll find plenty of entertainment on offer here.
Although the state’s gambling laws could be described as convoluted and perhaps overreaching, South Dakota deserves a place on your list for its novel approach to gambling. The state is known for its video lotteries which, alongside online gambling, remains legal, and is available to keen gamblers in as many as 1300 venues. There are also 25 physical casinos in the Deadwood area, and 11 tribal casinos spread throughout the state, culminating in a smorgasbord of opportunity for those who like to try their luck. The best part is that these video lotteries typically cost as little as 25 cents per round, meaning the risk of losing big is a far-off possibility.
Casino gaming across Illinois’ ten casinos brings in annual gross revenue of $1.551 billion, and if that doesn’t prove state-wide devotion, there’s always the long-running riverboat casinos, which have been in operation since 1991. The boats, which were originally established as a way of circumnavigating the laws against gambling on land, remain a tourist attraction for visitors and residents alike. In recent years, the gambling industry has grown in strength, particularly in Chicago, where visitors can find more than a dozen casinos with six more on the way, according to recent legislation. Beyond the casino walls, gambling opportunities can also be found in many restaurants and bars, at sports events, and at the racetrack-side, another welcome change with recent legislation.
For many states across the USA, gambling is more than a pastime. It’s big business, a full-blown industry embraced by professional and amateur gamblers alike, and if you’re keen to try your hand at the big game, these five states have exactly what you need. Consider each one an eclectic, exciting bucket list addition - just don’t spend all of your chips at once!