Every year, more than 50 million tourists arrive in Nevada to enjoy the Silver State’s famous sunshine, convention industry, and of course, the casino capital of the world in Las Vegas.
Over 42 million visitors see their way to Sin City annually, and Reno—better known as the “Biggest Little City in the World”—draws in 5 million. Meanwhile, little sister Laughlin tends to get left behind. The miniaturized Strip tucked along the Colorado River on the Nevada-Arizona border struggled to attract 2 million gambling enthusiasts last year.
If you’ve never seen this unique town for yourself, consider the five reasons found below before choosing Las Vegas over Laughlin on your next casino excursion.
1 – The Bargains on Lodging, Food, and Entertainment Simply Can’t Be Beat
If you’re reading this page, you already have a web browser dialed up and ready to go. On that note, fire up a new tab and search for hotel accommodations in Las Vegas.
Once you’ve had your fill of $100+ per night rates, switch over to a similar search for lodging in Laughlin. Just like that, you’ve managed to cut your prospective hotel budget in half—and all without sacrificing that classic Nevada casino gambling experience.
Nonetheless, in these uncertain economic times, finding a way to shave your nightly room rate down from the low three-figures to the mid two-figures never hurts. I mean, is the difference between Harrah’s Las Vegas and Harrah’s Laughlin really worth spending an extra $50 or so every night of your stay?
Speaking of the synergy between Sin City and Laughlin, the latter is also home to Golden Nugget and Tropicana casino resorts. In other words, you’ll find the same level of service, atmosphere, and brand familiarity in Laughlin as you will in Las Vegas.
The savings aren’t limited to lodging by any means either…
Everything here is simply priced more reasonably than what you can expect to find in one of the world’s premiere tourist destinations. That means parking is free instead of paid, the buffet costs $19 instead of $29, and gift shop goodies will only set you back $20 instead of $50.
Tickets to the nightly show, adventure tours to outlying areas, and even the food courts are all priced reasonably in Laughlin to court visitors put off by Las Vegas’ exorbitant fees.
And for every dollar you save on overhead, you’ll have an extra dollar to put in play on the tables and machines.
2 – The Odds, Payouts, and Jackpots Are Set More Favorably to Attract Sharp Action
As for those table games, slots, and video poker machines, the gambling value offered by Laughlin casinos is akin to the “off-Strip” joints scattered throughout the Vegas valley.
There, locals know to steer clear of Las Vegas Boulevard and its tourist traps along the Strip. Instead, they take their bankroll to smaller casinos like Sam’s Town, South Point, and Stations which focus on providing the locals with the most bang for their buck.
By doing so, these underdog establishments manage to compete with the major corporations like Caesars and MGM.
But when you come to Laughlin, every one of the 10 casinos in town is forced to compete for a shrinking pool of players. As mentioned up above, annual visitation to Laughlin has dwindled over the last few years—falling from 5 million people on average to under 2 million.
With that downward trend in mind, casino operators here know that their survival depends on attracting patrons by any means necessary. And in the gambling game, getting butts in the seats is a simple matter of making the price right.
Take the video poker action at the Aquarius Casino Resort as the perfect example…
Per the vpFREE2 nationwide database, VP specialists at the Aquarius will find five Double Bonus machines offering a 100.17% house edge.
In other words, rather than the casino holding an inherent advantage, players who know their basic strategy for Double Bonus cold can actually enjoy a slight statistical edge over the house.
The Aquarius has dozens of other machines set to offer a 99.96% house edge on VP variants like Jacks or Better and Double Double Bonus.
Meanwhile, the corporate suits in Sin City have long since done away with such player-friendly options. In fact, according to vpFREE2, you’d be hard pressed to find a single 100.17% house edge Double Bonus machine anywhere on The Strip.
The value extends across the gambling spectrum too, so expect to see way more 3:2 blackjack tables, higher odds on craps, and several single-zero roulette wheels which aren’t reserved for high-rollers.
3 – The Selection of Casinos Rivals Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas
Long before the neon lights lit up Las Vegas Boulevard, gamblers in Las Vegas called Fremont Street in the Downtown District home.
But despite a recent renovation to the Fremont Street Experience, and the opening of a major resort called Circa, Downtown has definitely seen better days.
Crime, panhandlers, and drunken revelry have taken over Fremont Street, leaving many recreational gamblers in search of savings with nowhere to turn in the city.
Enter the saving grace known as Laughlin…
Here you can find 10 unique casino resort properties that can go toe to toe with any of Downtown Vegas’ stalwarts. Check out the list below to review Laughlin’s lineup:
- Aquarius Casino Resort
- Avi Resort and Casino
- Colorado Belle
- Edgewater Hotel and Casino
- Golden Nugget Laughlin
- Harrah’s Laughlin
- Laughlin River Lodge
- Pioneer Hotel and Gambling Hall
- Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino
- Tropicana Laughlin
And for comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at what Fremont Street has to offer:
- Binion’s Gambling Hall
- Golden Nugget Las Vegas
- California Hotel and Casino
- Circa Resort and Casino
- Four Queens Hotel and Casino
- Golden Gate Hotel and Casino
- Fremont Hotel and Casino
- Main Street Station Casino, Brewery and Hotel
- The D Hotel and Casino
With comparable square footage, amenities, gaming options, and entertainment options, Laughlin is surely worth a visit if you’re tired of the Fremont Street grind.
4 – The Colorado River Runs Along the Casino District for Unparalleled Views
Sing the city’s praises all you’d like, but Las Vegas is a scorching hellscape during the summer months. The omnipresent sun sears and sizzles while the mercury regularly reaches temperatures of 115 degrees and higher.
Las Vegas has swimming pools abound, don’t get me wrong there, but a jam-packed pool filled with partying 20-somethings isn’t exactly up everyone’s alley.
Laughlin’s casinos, however, line the iconic blue waters of the mighty Colorado River. It only takes a minute or two walking from the casino or your room to reach the riverside, where guided tours, raft rides, and other attractions await.
And even if you never dip your toes in the surprisingly swift waters, just having an oasis in the desert to gaze upon makes all the difference.
5 – The Drive Might be Much Shorter Depending on Where You Live
If you reside in Phoenix, Arizona, driving to Las Vegas entails a nearly five-hour journey. And that’s not even accounting for rest stops, bathroom breaks, and drive-thru in Kingman.
But the same trip departing from the Valley of the Sun to Laughlin cuts your drive time down by over an hour.
The same goes for Albuquerque, as driving to Laughlin (7.5 hours) is easier than heading to Vegas (8.5 hours).
I have a special affinity for Laughlin that’s hard to explain. Perhaps it’s that same thrill of the unknown that greets all those millions of visitors to Las Vegas every year.
I know Vegas like the back of my hand, but every time I get to explore Laughlin, I encounter a new element that excites and entertains.
Gamblers can often be creatures of habit, and the gambling “Mecca of the World” certainly has its charms, but for my money, I’d bet my bottom dollar on a trip to Laughlin.