It’s positively inconceivable that any state might one day unseat Nevada as the gambler’s capital of the United States (and arguably, the world). It’s just impossible that another place in the US could combine the mystique, the sense of lawlessness, and the impressive investments in technology that make up Nevada and Las Vegas in particular.
Don’t believe it? Keep in mind, Nevada is an immensely popular tourist attraction in the summer. The city is in the desert, which can sometimes reach 115-degree heat. And yet, the tourists still come.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no other place in America to gamble except Las Vegas. In fact, more states are legalizing gambling in some forms. And with legalization often comes increased taxes, more jobs, and destination casinos where those looking to “let it ride” can visit and have a little fun.
10 – South Dakota
A quick shout out to the state of South Dakota for being a pretty righteous place for video lotteries and, all things considered, a really good place to find a casino. First, if you want a casino, according to one source, there are 25 casinos in the Deadwood area (which is on the west side of the state). In addition, 11 trial casinos can be found throughout the state.
However, casinos aren’t the reason why South Dakota makes the list. Instead, it’s the over 1300 bars and locales that offer video lotteries just about anywhere one cares to go in the state.
These video lotteries, which are specifically not slot machines, look and feel a lot like video slot machines. They offer completely electronic interfaces and allow you to play a number of different games for as little as 25 cents a round.
9 – Kansas
Kansas makes our list of the 10 best states by borrowing from Missouri ever so slightly. First, there are currently nine casinos in the state, most of which are on Indian tribal land, and they are scattered throughout the state. As most of the population of the state is in the eastern half, most of the casinos are also on the eastern side.
If you’re looking for a good Kansas casino, Prairie Band Casino in Topeka is clean and has nice accommodations. Still, the class of the Kansas casino is Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, a large casino built overlooking the Kansas Speedway racetrack. It offers all the poker and other real money gambling opportunities one would expect from a major casino.
Last, Kansas makes the list because if you happen to be near Kansas City, Kansas, you can quickly jaunt across the Missouri river and take advantage of all of Missouri’s riverboats. I will talk about Missouri in a moment.
8 – Iowa
The Hawkeye State, which continually produces exciting college football and corn is also home to nearly 20 casinos, riverboats, and racetrack casinos. These casinos are scattered throughout the state, though many appear to be in and around Des Moines.
Regardless of where you find yourself though, an Iowa casino offers an exciting range of gambling options with shockingly cheap rooms for resort casinos and food that’s as good as any you will find outside of Vegas. We’re not saying to drop everything you’re doing and fly to Des Moines, but if you do find yourself in Iowa, you’re in for some good gambling.
7 – Missouri
As promised, I said I’d get back to Missouri and its plethora of gambling options. If you can picture the state of Missouri, the entire eastern half of the state (which is home to St. Louis, Missouri’s largest city) is rimmed by casinos. Additionally, the I-70 corridor (which runs between Kansas City and St. Louis) also have several good casinos.
There are four casinos on the Missouri half of Kansas City while the St. Louis side adds another five all by itself.
The St. Louis casinos tend to be larger, glitzier, and appear closer to Las Vegas-style casinos.
The class of St. Louis casinos has caught on nationally as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) offers satellite tournaments there. The real surprise is the Isle of Capri in Boonville, MO, halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis. The Isle of Capri is very fancy with an amazing fare one does not expect in rural Missouri.
If you’re willing to travel just across St. Louis, another great option is the Ameristar St. Charles Casino in St. Charles, MO. Fully equipped with slot machines, blackjack, and even games like Pai Gow Poker and Let it Ride.
6 – Indiana
Indiana is home to 14 different casinos, riverboats, or racetracks where gambling can be placed. What’s even more impressive about the state is that the casinos are not concentrated in one area, meaning that when one travels to the Hoosier state, there’s bound to be a casino relatively close. Also, as of 2019, sports betting is legal in Indiana, giving the gambler more ways to win.
Really, though, the history of gambling in Indiana shows it’s getting more liberal and allowing more ways to engage in it. More casinos are opening, and there are also WSOP events being held on the southeastern side of the state in Elizabeth.
This, combined with the quality of the Indiana casinos, gives one a reason to go through Indiana other than when you’re trying to get to Chicago.
5 – Illinois
Speaking of getting to Chicago, Illinois is another great state for those who like to gamble. Not only are there several great casinos on the Indiana part of the Chicagoland area, the state of Illinois has recently passed sweeping legislation that will authorize six new casinos (including one in Chicago itself) and permits gambling now in the states’ many racetracks.
More than that, the new legislation will almost double the number of seats to place a sports bet. In other words, soon you will have another reason to head to the Windy City. There’s more than enough exciting gambling action to keep even the most professional player busy.
4 – Mississippi
Hold on to your hats because Mississippi is home to almost 40 casinos and areas to gamble within its borders.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this makes the Gulf area of Mississippi a nice place to visit. The Gulf area is pretty and you can stay get some gambling done.
3 – Louisiana
Like Mississippi, Louisiana has casinos scattered throughout the state, but it takes advantage of its Gulf Coast real estate to put up casinos. This includes no less than three casinos in New Orleans itself and a number of others along the southern coast.
While these casinos may not be as no-holds-barred as you might expect from the state that houses New Orleans, they’re still very nice casinos which offer a full suite of activities. Also, as you might expect, the casinos in New Orleans are very large and welcome significant numbers of gamblers each year.
2 – California
The road between San Diego and Las Vegas is one of the most densely-packed areas for those looking to play poker. While certainly not California’s most well-known claim to fame, for those who travel to areas in Southern California, it’s not hard to find a casino or a poker room with a seat waiting for you.
In the end, it’s another reason to visit the Sunshine State. However, keep in mind most of the hot gambling action is in the southern portion of the state. Options are far less dense in the north.
1 – New Jersey
What list of gambler states would be complete without the home of Atlantic City? Sure, the Atlantic City gambling scene has fallen on some hard times recently, but it’s still the place to go when you want to be in Vegas but can’t fly to Vegas (or don’t want to put up with the heat).
New Jersey has it all. It has the fancy casinos, the shopping, and even the family events. It also has the boardwalk, which is still a fun place to be despite its recent hard times.
You may never need to go anywhere but Nevada to do your gambling and you may never want to. Still, if you find yourself traveling around the United States, have no fear. Almost any state to which you travel is going to have a casino or two where you can get a game.
Even better, some states are going to have a lot of casinos, racetracks, and poker rooms, where you can stay, dine, and spend your time doing the things you love. Hopefully, you find yourself in one of these 10 states because they all have great accommodations and are just waiting to give you the chance to make some money.