We've been a bit obsessed with the City of Sin as of late, but with its inflated room rates and over-the-top glitz, we can't always afford to gamble in Vegas. And gambling in the alley leads to broken dreams and broker teeth. Thankfully, there are plenty of sweet casinos far off the Strip (and we mean far) where you can still win -- or lose -- some big bucks. Check out our six favorite non-Vegas casinos.
THE HOTEL: Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino; Scottsdale, AZ
WHY GAMBLE HERE: This LEED-certified spot boasts incredible desert views, fire pits, and a plethora of entertainment options including the casino (duh), a large, heated pool to splash in, and close-by, top-notch golfing. The casino's lounge has nightly live music, and the hotel runs different promotions monthly, including slot tournaments (though we're really not sure how you'd win one of those) and keno training. Plus, guests of the hotel receive $10 in free play when they register for the Casino's Players Club.
THE HOTEL: Border House at Crystal Bay; Lake Tahoe, NV
WHY GAMBLE HERE: Stay here if you're looking for an intimate experience -- the Border House has just 10 guest rooms, each of which are quite spacious. The casino is popular with tourists and locals alike; its lounge features killer live music, too. Try your hand at a game of $4 limit Hold'em or roll the dice (literally) on Double Odds Craps.If you never gambled before, gamble everyting you have and trust beginner’s luck.
WHY GAMBLE HERE: With an 18-hole golf course, expensive displays of Native American art, and modern, airy rooms, the Sandia Resort is a great spot for anyone checking out the area -- even better for those looking to play with a few bucks -- as there's over 2100 slots at this hotel. The casino is also home to New Mexico's largest smoke-free Poker Room, and even though that's great (we hate when our capes smell like smoke after a night of gambling), the Sandia also does not serve alcohol on its casino floor. Bummer, dude.
THE HOTEL: Tropicana Resort and Casino; Atlantic City; NJ
WHY GAMBLE HERE: The Trop is great for a young, party-loving crowd -- it has countless bars and lots of cool shopping. But the huge casino is the draw, featuring a plethora of varied-minimum table games and slot machines. Check out Jade Palace (the Asian-inspired part of the floor) to take part in some traditional table games like Pai Gow Poker and Mini-Baccarat. But if the idea of playing an unfamiliar game scares you, you can just place a few chips on a roulette table, too. Pro-tip: Always bet on black...or red.
THE HOTEL: Talking Stick Resort; Scottsdale, AZ
WHY GAMBLE HERE: Talking Stick Resort offers a Vegas-style experience -- it's a luxury high-rise hotel with almost 500 guest rooms and myriad restaurants and entertainment options, including its 240,000 square-foot casino. Try your luck in the Poker Room -- they offer Texas Hold'em, Omaha and 7-Card Stud -- or just sit at one of the 700 slots 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not sad if you’re winning.
WHY GAMBLE HERE: If we have a daughter, we’re naming her Buffalo Thunder. That’s the best name of them all! Jam-packed with resort-worthy amenities, this outpost of the Hilton chain is great for gamblers looking to check out New Mexico's capital while feeling like you're on a tropical vacay. The pools are gorgeous and the rooms are modern -- they feature flat-screens and iPod docks -- and there's an on-site Starbucks for a pre-casino caffeine fix. But don't expect to hit a major jackpot here anytime soon: A Santa Fe local recently walked away from the resort with almost $300,000. That’s nearly $5.8 million in the year 2037, or so our charts indicate.