Oh yes, it can be very bad… For the worst experience in years of coming to Vegas, which you must avoid like the plague, scroll down this page. In general, the choice of which Vegas casinos is best for you clearly depends on what you are looking for, if it’s the atmosphere, or the elegance, or the number of slot machines (and how modern and fun they are), or how ‘loose’ the slots are, or the type of tables it offers, or even the type of crowd. If it’s your first time in Vegas you should visit a few different ones to see which one works best for you, since each one has a different atmosphere (see paragraphs below). On the other hand, if all you want is cheap tables, off-Strip is your best bet, such as on Fremont Street (which is still a tourist area), including El Cortez. There are many off-the-beaten-track (tourist-wise) options if you want low-limits table, such as Eastside Cannery (the slots weren’t that generous though last time we were there) and Arizona Charlies Decatur.
As per ‘loose slots’, the rumors state that off-Strip casinos have ‘looser slots’, but in our experience in teh last 2 years this does not necessarily seem to be the case. In fact, we have won much more and much more frequently on the Vegas Strip (more on this further down).
Best Vegas Strip Casinos according to atmosphere, elegance, beauty & fun
The Venetian Casino is awesome for poker players, it’s huge and really popular; it’s a fantastic casino for all pockets offering a variety of games with lots of modern slot machines as well; it’s important, in our opinion, to keep the most popular games (and offer many slot machines with the same popular games) but it’s also important to offer modern, fancy games too, so that the frequent visitor can be mesmerized each time!
Another beautiful casino is Wynn‘s, though you don’t have the huge choice of small denomination games such as at Mirage for example, unless you are a first-timer and you have just signed up for their players card.
Mirage. Definitely a fun place though at times it’s so crowded that you may not find your chosen machine available nor will you be able to ‘breathe’ fresh air easily. At the Mirage casino you will find a good variety of machines and games and the casino itself is very large, set in a fun and pleasant atmosphere. I particularly love Mirage casino marketing: they seem to be more generous than any other casino on the Strip (they give you more ‘comps’ for your play), especially if you stay at their hotel. We always, always get our stay and our buffet visits comped the day after a night of gambling here, or at check out.
MGM Grand. It used to be awful but these days it’s been modernized significantly; here you can now find a large variety of modern slot machines as well as the more ‘traditional’ ones. We have been winning often here (that does not mean you will, unfortunately). You will also enjoy a large variety of guests, from young to seniors, which is always nice. The casino is not overly filled with smoke which means that the ventilation system works well, unlike some other Vegas casinos. The only problem with this casino is that it’s huge and scattered over several large areas.
Cosmopolitan. Elegant, beautiful, modern, fresh and ‘full of oxygen’ just like Aria, only… We actually win more here, and consistently! I find their customer service impeccable too. Maybe it’s a temporary wild card (the ‘generousity’ of the casino’), trying to attract loyal customers. It may be worth your while asking casino marketing what their policies are for rewarding play when you go (since these are at times subjective and changeable): during our latest visits I found them relatively generous, though not as much as Mirage.
Excalibur Ok it’s not elegant (!) but it’s very popular and … It’s huge, so you will find a huge variety of machines you can try. We have always consistently won here, year after year. So, it’s either an amazing coincidence, or this casino is magically ‘looser’. It’s always crowded and cheerful, though not of course ‘classy’; it can get quite smoke-filled though not as bad as some of the low-ceiling Caesars Entertainment group casinos. Until recently casino marketing at Excalibur was one of the least generous so playing here was mostly a waste of time if you were hoping to have your check-out bill reduced (basically you go to casino marketing before you check out and ask them to reduce your bill on the basis of your casino play using your players card). However, on our last trip we found that they had improved somewhat and the recycling of money (given the generous wins) allowed us to have the whole check out bill written off. At the same time, you are more likely to receive a 2 free nights offer from Excalibur and Luxor than from the beautiful Mirage, though at Mirage casino marketing tend ‘comp’ your nights at check out or offer you free buffets (and their buffet is certainly better than Excalibur’s, though declined recently (for that, check our best Vegas buffets page).
One of the Worst Casinos, Players Rewards and Casino Marketing
Orleans. It used to be one of our favorites, but these days nobody I know nor anybody I witnessed won anything at its slot machines, no matter how big or little they bet. On our latest visit most slot machines seemed to be huge financial vacuum cleaners without mercy. Bonus games paid pitifully; re-triggers were rare and incredibly ungenerous: the fun of playing was removed. There are all sorts of rumors I heard on the casino floors about how ‘odds’ are worse during big holidays, but no matter what the reason may or may not be, we now could not recommend this casino to anybody who hops to win a few hundred dollars at the slot machines, at least based on our own experience and what we saw with our own eyes. Moreover, it’s an incredibly smoke-filled casino (poor ceiling vents may well play a part), which means that, if you play all night long, your eyes and your throat may be sore the next day. To add insult to injury, if you beg at casino marketing after a couple of reckless nights when all you seemed to do was making trips to the ATM machine, they look at you as if you had asked to buy the place outright: oh no, to obtain any retroactive comps (namely to have the charges removed from your bill) you must have X amount of points, which seemed obtainable through their own new obscure manner, since no matter how many thousands of dollars you dropped in their machines, it does not seem good enough. Bad, bad bad practice, we say! Wynn seems more generous than that! Thus, our advice is stay here when it’s affordable, use their online offers (sign up to their BConnected program and you’ll start receiving offers) but, anytime you feel the urge to gamble, run to any Total Rewards casino or one of the other more generous casinos or rewards programs. On the positive side, the moment you play a few dollars at any BConnected casino, you will receive 2 free nights per month from the casino where you played: not a lot, but it’s a nice fallback plan if you don’t have any other comped rooms.
A mildly positive side of BConnected casinos, is that they easily offer food comps (free food) as their way to rewards you after a night of reckless gambling; however, their food court is quite expensive (so you may not receive a coupon large enough to cover all you may want) and – before you decide to park yourself at their all-you-can-eat, we suggest you read our review of the Orleans buffet.
Alternative Casinos: some locals love a few of the downtown or off-Strip casinos such as Main Street Station (which needs to be seen anyway because it’s simply amazing, like a museum, a piece of history to be visited at all costs) or the beautiful and modern Silverton casino and the large, beautiful and modern M Resort Casino (both more challenging to get to if you don’t have a car), or the Gold Coast (easier to get to thanks to their frequent free shuttles to and from the Strip). The idea that downtown casinos allegedly offer better chances to win or at least to lose less money over time is,we think, a bit of a myth. Moreover, even if you decided to play at some allegedly ‘looser casinos’ or wherever you get easy comps, you have to ask yourself: do I want to be comped here? To find out more, read our page titled ‘how to get comped in Vegas‘.
Great in Some Ways, So-So in Others:
Aria has a beautiful casino, really modern and airy, but some of us keep on loosing money here (not much but it seems to be a constant) every time we visit; every bonus, every re-trigger (etc) seem to pay very little, certainly compared to other casinos; the same may be said for Mandalay Bay, where some slot machines seem to pay really well consistently, especially those strategically placed (see further down for link to explanation of this), but the most modern games seem to be geared towards ‘taking your money’, we found. Mandalay Bay is a large casino but ate at night they at times have some ridiculously noisy bands there, trying to appeal to the youth; maybe that contributed to our lack of concentration!
The Bellagio casino is beautiful but generally geared towards those who have a larger budget; however, lately they have introduced more 1c slot machines (you can always change the denomination to 25c, for example, thus gambling higher bets). You can breathe more easily here and the resort is beautiful.
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