The 7 Coolest Places to Gamble

Group of People Playing at a Craps Table

Most people in the United States live within driving distance from a casino. Flights are cheaper now than ever before. And the number of options you have when deciding where to gamble is overwhelming.

What criteria should you use to decide where to gamble? My suggestion is to start thinking about what places would be cool to hang out or visit.

Here are my picks for the seven coolest places to gamble in the United States.

1 – Your Local Bar or Tavern

It’s not legal to gamble at most bars. This doesn’t mean that gambling doesn’t happen there. If you’re a regular at a bar, you should have no trouble finding someone who’s willing to place a friendly wager on a football game with you.

In fact, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a bookmaker who’s willing to take your action regularly.

I used to hang out at a bar in Dallas which had three slot machines called “eight-liners.” They’re called that because there are eight paylines on such a machine, three horizontally, three vertically, and two diagonally.

That wasn’t the only gambling available there either. You could also spend $10 to play in the weekly shuffleboard tournament.

And during football season, there were plenty of football pools to join. I had a friend recently who took me to a bar in Denton, Texas. They played Yahtzee there. It costs a buck to play.

If you roll a Yahtzee, though, you win the pot, which is made up of the contributions of the people who’ve played there until then. It’s cool to gamble at your local bar.

2 – Your Local Casino

Most people live near a land-based casino now, but not everyone.

If you do live near a casino, one of the coolest things you can do is really get to know the place. You don’t have to lose a lot of money there to be a regular either.

If you want to impress a date, there’s no surer way than to be a regular at the local casino. One of my friends is a member of the players club at our nearest casino, and he’s accumulated enough points to get free rooms whenever he wants.

Best of all, most casinos have at least one nice restaurant. It doesn’t get much cooler than being a regular at that restaurant and having the staff there know you by name!

3 – Your Workplace

Office pools are practically an American tradition. I don’t recommend being in charge of the office pool if you’re the manager of your department, although, it might work out okay at a smaller company where there are fewer HR issues.

How does an office pool work? Well, the most common of these is a football pool. I like survivor pools, but a lot of people also enjoy betting on squares.

A survivor pool is easy to run. Everyone puts in their money, I suggest $20 for an average-sized office, and the prize pool goes to the last man standing.

Every week, you pick a team to win a game. It has to be a team you haven’t picked before in this pool, usually. If your team wins, you survive into the next week. If your team loses, you’re knocked out of the pool.

Cartoon Drawing Showing an Office Pool Bet

Most of the time, the last person standing when the pool ends is the winner of all the money in the pot. But sometimes, when you get down to the last two or three contenders, they’ll decide to split the pot.

I like this office pool because there’s a skill element to it. You have to be able to pick winners. If you’re not a fan of gambling with a skill element, squares are probably a better bet.

Basically, squares are like a lottery where the winners are chosen based on the scores during an upcoming football game. Whoever runs the pool creates a 10 x 10 grid. You buy a square by putting in your money and writing your name in the square. You can usually buy multiple squares.

Once all the squares have been bought, you randomly determine the numbers (zero through through) on each axis. The person with the square corresponding to the score at the end of each quarter wins 25% of the pot.

Who knew gambling at work could be a fun activity?

4 – Your Home

Another cool place to gamble is ever so humble—your own home.

There are an amazing number of ways you can gamble at home these days. You can host a poker game, for example. That’s been a traditional way of gambling for decades.

You can have friends over to watch the football game and place friendly wagers with your buddies on the outcome of the game.

In fact, any kind of gambling you might do in a bar can also be done from the comfort of your home. And there’s one other way of gambling from home that might appeal to you—the internet.

No matter what kind of gambling you like to do, you can probably do it on a real money casino website. There are plenty of sites offering any and all of the following gambling activities:

  • Casino games
  • Sports betting
  • Bingo
  • Poker
  • Fantasy sports
  • The lottery
  • Esports betting

There are probably other gambling activities you can participate in online that I’m forgetting to list. Just check if your local jurisdiction has any laws against online gambling.

5 – Vegas, Baby!

Okay, so Las Vegas isn’t going to surprise anyone as a good place to gamble. It’s still one of the coolest gambling destinations in the country!

I suggest getting old-school with your Vegas trip. Take the “cool factor” up a notch or even several by staying in hotels and casinos downtown instead of the Strip.

Eat at some of the older restaurants that are still standing, the ones where the Rat Pack ate. Drink at some of the older bars and lounges.

There’s so much to see and do in Las Vegas that you don’t even need to gamble unless you want to.

6 – Reno

Reno is often called the “Biggest Little City in the World.” It’s also in Nevada, but the vibe there couldn’t be more different from Las Vegas. Everything there is smaller, but the casinos are still there and they offer the same games with the same odds.

You can still find some of the buffets and shows you might find in Vegas, although the shows in Reno tend to include less A-listers. I personally have a soft spot for this place because I learned how to play video poker in Reno.

On top of that, the weather in Reno isn’t as extreme it is in Las Vegas. Summertime temperatures are around the 80s and 90s, and they rarely see the 100s, which is typical for Vegas in the summer.

7 – On a Cruise Ship

Okay, so here’s a caveat about gambling on a cruise ship… The casino games’ odds are often much worse than you’d face in a land-based casino in a major casino destination.

You can expect to find blackjack with a 6:5 payout instead of the standard 3:2 payout. You can also expect to find some of the tightest slot machines you’ll ever see.

Casino Entrance on a Cruise Ship

The video poker pay tables are substandard. And you can forget about finding European Roulette, American Roulette is the norm on cruise ships.

Here’s what most cruise ships do offer, though—Texas holdem.

If you don’t mind playing for lower stakes, the best time you’ll ever have gambling might be at the poker tables on a cruise ship.

I stay away from the slot machines and video poker games on gambling cruises and stick with the poker games instead. I highly suggest you do, too.


Those are my picks for the seven coolest places to gamble. Thanks for reading!

Do you have other suggestions? If so, please leave your recommendations in the comments.