A guide to Las Vegas casinos

Las Vegas is called Sin City for a reason. You never quite know what you’re going to get up to, and it tends to always be something you’d rather soon forget anyway. As the saying goes: whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. That tends to apply to the city’s liberal approach to “entertainment” (in the broadest sense) and gambling, which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

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The desert city’s year-round heat is matched by the sizzling appeal of The Strip, an iconic stretch of road that houses some of the world’s most lavish casino resorts.

Gambling in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is considered one of the most liberal cities not only in the United States, but also the world. After World War II, it quickly become a holiday hub for servicemen, with gambling and glitzy entertainment becoming synonymous with the city.

Gambling was legalised in 1931, and the city hasn’t looked back. While casinos were initially restricted to the city’s downtown area, it was the building of the El Rancho Vegas resort on what is now known as The Strip that led to a construction boom. The rest is history.

Today’s Las Vegas may have been surpassed by Macau as the world’s biggest gambling market, but the city is still considered to be the pinnacle of gambling tourism in the Western world. That’s because it blends exciting nightlife with resort-style luxury. Its many casinos also offer a diverse range of casino games, from traditional slots, to blackjack, roulette and craps. The most appealing thing about Las Vegas is that it has something for everyone, and isn’t just a destination for the high-roller.

Casino resorts are also renowned for their spectacular customer service, providing free drinks for all players across all casino games, and hosting an endless stream of promotions and welcome bonuses for punters that frequent the city.

Las Vegas is also very accessible for many visitors, with prices outside the peak season (generally from May-September) being well below what we may expect to pay for five-star accommodation, nightlife and dining. It’s easy to convert your cash into local currency, with most land based casinos offering this service.

Vegas is, without a doubt, the best holiday gambling destination on the planet, simply because of the diversity in entertainment it offers visitors.

Popular Las Vegas games

Much like online casinos which allow you to play for real money, the most popular games in Las Vegas casinos are slot machines, blackjack, poker and roulette. While baccarat tables dominate gaming floors in Macau, punters in Vegas tend to flock to low-stake slots and blackjack tables. The city hosts poker tournaments all year round, and the buy-in can range from a few hundred dollars, into the millions.

Blackjack: When Americans play Blackjack, they treat it like a social gathering. People like to have fun at the tables and help others, so don’t do things whcih might put the other players at the table at a disadvantage. For example, don’t split tens. Don’t be that person who splits a winning hand.

You can find plenty of tables with $5 minimums, while the more lavish casino resorts will house plenty of high-stakes tables.

Slots: Casino punters love their online slots, and as it turns out, visitors to Vegas love their traditional poker machines as well. You can find a wide range of slots at every casino in the city, so you’d be hard pressed not to find one suiting your tastes and bankroll. Don’t be surprised to see people betting the minimum for hours on end: they’re their for the free drinks.

Roulette: Las Vegas may just be the worst place on the planet to play roulette. The only place you’ll find European or French Roulette wheels — the roulette variants with the lowest house edge — is in high-stakes rooms. The main gaming floors all have American double-zero roulette, meaning you’re stuck playing the roulette variant with the highest house edge. Playing roulette in a packed Vegas casino on a Saturday night is still quite the experience, though, and the excitement of the game is what attracts so many people to it.

Best Las Vegas casinos

The Bellagio: It features Las Vegas’ most famous poker room. The stakes increase on weekends when the casino floor is at its busiest, but regardless of the day, The Bellagio is the place to be seen. Hitting the casino floor on a Saturday night is quite the experience: don’t be surprised to see a few A-listers floating around the place.

MGM Grand: The MGM has a bit of everything. Entertainment, shopping, nightlife. And of course, it’s gambling options are almost unmatched. It’s more accessible than other lavish casino resorts, with varied betting ranges across all casino games. If you’re looking for a bit of fun, be sure to check out the events at the Wet Republic pool. Recent events feature some of the world’s best DJs, and while drink prices are ridiculous (up into the US$40 range for a basic cocktail), the atmosphere and music makes it well worth the expense.

Caesar’s Palace: Caesar’s is great for some quick punting because it has more low-stakes options than other major resorts. It has more variety across more space, and still stands as one of Sin City’s best casinos. It was also featured in The Hangover, so just be careful not to get locked out on the roof. Some of us have tried to live that moment at dusk looking over The Strip, but the security was having none of it!

The Venetian: With hundreds of tables games covering more than 125,000 square feet, The Venetian is one of the biggest and most glamorous casinos on The Strip. It’s easy to get lost in — just as this author did — although finding your way out is a bit like getting lost in a candy store and never actually wanting to leave. Its sister casino, The Palazzo, even offers poolside gaming, which makes for a great breakaway from the casino floor and into the cool waters during a stifling Vegas summer.

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino: With more than 1700 slots, and the largest range of video poker games, the Mandalay Bay Casino is one of the best in Vegas for poker fanatics. It also has a spectacular 17-screen race and sports book area, which makes it a great place to watch big events. Being in town for the NBA Finals in 2015 made for an exciting few nights on this casino’s gaming floor, as it’s one of the best to capture the excitement of sports action alongside other punters.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: This is one of the more modern casinos in Vegas, and also offers up one of the more friendly gaming experiences on The Strip. Its floor-to-ceiling glass walls offer sensational views of Vegas and its surrounding areas. It’s also another great venue for sports and horse racing betting, with a large betting ring servicing players looking for this style of fun and gaming.

Tropicana: This casino is connected to the MGM Grand and while it’s not technically on The Strip, it’s easily accessible and is an incredibly underrated resort. While the casino floor itself is small compared to the larger resorts, it’s far more relaxed, and you shouldn’t have any issues getting onto a table game of your choice, even on the busy weekends. Tropicana also hosts some spectacular pool parties, so be sure to look out for them if you’re ever in town.

If you’re heading to Las Vegas hoping to play with the big boys, check out our guide to the best high roller gambling rooms in Vegas.

Tips when visiting Las Vegas

  • Don’t spend a fortune on accommodation. There’s plenty of affordable rooms at great resorts. Besides, you’ll hardly be in your room, anyway!
  • Never split or bet against a good hand. It’s a surefire way of making enemies, when everyone just wants to be friends!
  • Play the slots and get free drinks.
  • Educate yourself on the gambling etiquette in Vegas
  • Avoid peak seasons, which aren’t only busy, but also tend to be during the hottest time of year. The temperatures can be stifling!

We also recommend you check out our gambling holiday itinerary for inspiration before planning your Vegas trip.

Experience Vegas online

Can’t get to Las Vegas? It’s okay: it’s a long trek over the Pacific! Thankfully, there are plenty of online casinos offering up true Las Vegas-style experiences, allowing you to play your favourite casino games for real money online.

Casino sites like Royal Vegas feature live dealer Playboy Bunny casino games like live baccarat, roulette, and blackjack. Play with real dealers, naughty or nice, and get the Vegas experience directly on your desktop or mobile device.

The best thing about online casinos is like land based casinos they offer so much variety. You can choose between European and American Roulette, baccarat, poker, blackjack, and craps, and then quickly jump into the endless number of progressive jackpot slots, like Mega Moolah at www.SlotsMillion.com, with a recent winner taking home a $7.2 million jackpot!

It’s easy to find the best online equivalent to a Las Vegas getaway, and all of our favourite casino sites are a great place to start, offering fast and secure ways to deposit and start playing your favourite casino games for real money.

Alternatively, you can also bring the casinos to you by hosting your own casino night or learning how to play casino games from your lounge room.

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