Located atop a large green hill in Arizona’s original capital of Prescott, the Bucky’s Casino initially looks like your run-of-the-mill tribal operation.
A relatively small square building greets visitors with a two-story casino, while a larger attached building serves as the Bucky’s Prescott Resort hotel. The facility opened way back in 1995 during the dawn of casino gambling in Arizona, and having just celebrated its 25th anniversary, the years of wear and tear on Bucky’s can be seen in every corner. Picture a nondescript “local’s casino” found miles from The Strip in North Las Vegas, and you’ll get the idea.
This page covers what you’ll find at Bucky’s Casino in Arizona. I also share my personal experience there, which honestly, wasn’t the best. But I’m here to tell the tale and you can decide if this establishment is worthy of a visit through your own experiences and opinions.
Keep reading below to learn more about Bucky’s Casino in Prescott, AZ.
Physical Facilities at Bucky’s Haven’t Been Renovated in 25 Years
Everything here is rather rundown and worn, from the carpets under your feet to the felt on the blackjack tables. Cocktail servers, dealers, cashiers, slot attendants… you’ll seldom find a smiling face from the Bucky’s bunch.
As for the table games, the pit consists of 16 installations limited to card games only. That means no roulette or craps, just blackjack and Three-Card Poker. Thanks to a limited gaming compact that only allows for card games and machines, this is par for the course at most Arizona casinos. With that in mind, I can’t really penalize Bucky’s too much for failing to spread all of the classic table games.
I will, however, assign every demerit possible for their refusal to get with the times when it comes to cigarette smoke and its lingering odor. I don’t demand a smoke-free casino by any means, as I definitely understand the industry’s reliance on allowing gamblers to do their thing in comfort.
With that said, in the 21st century casinos have a responsibility to use modern technology air exchangers, purifiers, and circulators to keep non-smoking customers from gagging on a perpetual haze.
Don’t take my word for it though, just ask these former Bucky’s players who couldn’t stand choking on the smoky smog:
“The biggest drawback by far though, is the disgusting cigarette smoke. The ventilation system in this casino is terrible. Cigarette smoke lingers and fills up the entire place. All of your clothes and hair will wreak like cigarette smoke after you have stepped foot in this casino for any amount of time.”
– Wes N. from Sandy, Utah in his 2-star review on Yelp
Like I said, if avoiding secondhand cigarette and cigar smoke is a priority for you in any way, visiting Bucky’s is basically a nonstarter. Trust me, my asthma has survived notorious old school smoking dens like Circus-Circus in Las Vegas. But Bucky’s and its small size made it significantly worse.
Between the thick air and the dated surroundings, Bucky’s has clear drawbacks as a land-based casino option in Arizona.
All told, Bucky’s “earned” a 3-star aggregate review on TripAdvisor and a 2.5-star rating on Yelp from hundreds of players collectively. So, I’m clearly not the only one who left feeling disappointed.
My Personal Experience at Bucky’s
Speaking of poker, Bucky’s also has a dedicated room on the second floor where real money Texas Hold’em games and tournaments are held. But this poker room truly is kind of the pits.
Living only 30 miles or so from Bucky’s, I’ve headed up the hill plenty of times to meet some pals for a poker tournament or a little time on the cash game tables.
And more often than not, I’ve left with a bitter taste in mouth after a dealer or manager displayed a complete lack of decorum. Before I go any further, let me be the first to admit that gamblers are far from the most pleasant group of customers to interact with. In our worst moments, we can tilt after losses, drink to excess, and generally act a fool with little regard for how the staff on hand feels.
With that preface out of the way, I can sincerely say that my group and I didn’t engage in any of those unsavory activities on my last trip to Bucky’s. While I’m working, I do my best to stay out of the way, to avoid pestering staff members and to act like a professional. And that’s why the treatment my friends and I received was so off-putting.
Starting in the poker room, we decided to sign up for the daily $100 buy-in Texas Hold’em tournament. The dimly lit room looked quite empty even as the clock ticked toward the noon start time, so I asked the manager how many people generally show up. He barely looked up from his phone and said, “Three or four tables, you playin’ or not?”
I took his word for it and signed up, along with three of my friends, before waiting for the regulars to show up. By noon, however, there were just two other entries to the tournament. And both of these were dealers who had just finished their cash game shift.
Not interested in playing what amounted to a private game amongst ourselves, and miffed that the manager lied about the “three or four tables” to lure us in, I politely protested. But rather than refund our entry fees, or even discuss the matter at all, the manager silently pointed to the dealer in the box to slide our chip stacks to our assigned seats.
He barked back a response I didn’t quite catch, and we headed downstairs without looking back. Later on, we decided to try a little blackjack. We had a table to ourselves, the 10s were coming like clockwork, and all seemed to be right with the world again… until my brother got that telltale tap on the shoulder.
The pit boss had been summoned, along with a pair of stern security guards, and they gruffly asked us for identification. I didn’t think much of it at first. My little bro does have a babyface, so we all revealed our IDs with a smile.
Smiles soon turned into stunned expressions when the pit boss offered the following reply:
“That’s them boys, gonna be 86s all around. Cash out their chips and escort them to their cars.”
Within minutes we were whisked to the cashier’s cage to exchange our chips, before being kicked out of the casino with a distinct “don’t come back” vibe lingering over the scene. Perplexed and aggravated, we didn’t bother trying to argue and drove home in defeat.
Later on, courtesy of a lengthy email chain, I was informed that the poker room manager sought an immediate ban from the property covering our entire group. As he directed the pit boss, our decision to leave the tournament with chips on the table, along with the comment about donating the buy-ins to the dealers, was interpreted as “gross disrespect and disruptive behavior.”
And all because we fell for the oldest trick in the book about more players being on the way…
My experience was obviously unique, and I doubt every player who asks too many questions gets the boot, but Bucky’s nonetheless earned its spot atop my personal list of Arizona’s unfavorable casinos.
Sister Casino Next Door Beats Bucky’s at Every Turn
To make matters worse, I’ve come to learn that the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe actually does run a perfectly fine casino right across the street.
Known as Yavapai Casino, this one-story pseudo-saloon was one of the first Arizona tribal casinos to open its doors in 1992. The place still looks and feels of that bygone era, but rather than disappoint like its big brother Bucky’s, the smaller Yavapai Casino tends to draw strong reviews from my fellow gamblers.
The establishment’s highlights include a secluded smoke-free section, 80 slot and video poker machines, and a laid-back staff that aims to please.
If only I’d have known this! I would’ve walked over there with my money in a heartbeat.
Arizona gambling is as diverse as the state itself, ranging from glittering Las Vegas-esque resorts like Talking Stick Resort to a literal “sawdust joint” in Fort McDowell Casino. This diversity ensures every type of gambler can find a casino they’ll feel comfortable visiting.
But unless you’re fine with plenty of cigarette smoke and potentially some unfriendly run-ins with the staff, you may not feel comfortable at Bucky’s Casino. As a card player and casino connoisseur, let my experience and countless customer reviews online serve as a lesson—perhaps Bucky’s isn’t the place to be. In the end, it’s your call!