Millions of people enjoy Native American casinos every year. This industry isn’t some deeply buried secret awaiting an influx of tourists and players.
But some people spend months budgeting for and planning elaborate vacations to Las Vegas. Having been to Vegas, I definitely understand the appeal. But I definitely wonder how many are missing out simply because they’re overlooking other casino resorts.
One thing about living in large, diverse nations like the United States and Europe is that there are so many places to visit. And the local populations offer so much variety in culture and experience.
Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of America but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve visited some pretty amazing casinos that you’ve never heard of. And I’ve read about great casinos I’d love to visit someday.
The Native American gaming experience has a lot to offer both casual and regular players. Listed below are several reasons why you should think about visiting local Native American casinos.
Many of the Casinos Are More Authentic
It’s cool to visit Las Vegas. The fountain displays on the Strip are amazing. The variety in architectural styles is awesome, and there are restaurants and shopping centers galore.
But the few hundred tribes that invested in their local architecture have some fun to offer you, too. Native American casinos aren’t made up of attractions that are replicas of the real thing (New York-New York hotel, the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas, the pyramid at the Luxor).
Their casinos come in many sizes and are authentic to their culture. The larger ones like the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma and Foxwoods Resort are world-class entertainment venues.
The Snoqualmie Casino in Washington State offers incredible views of mountains and forests. It’s located less than an hour’s drive east of Seattle in the mountains. The drive from the city alone is worth the trip.
Although each casino has its strengths and weaknesses, they all strive to represent their communities well. I really enjoy visiting these locations when I have the chance.
You Have More Choices Than in Las Vegas
They say you can’t do Vegas in a day, and that’s true. But you can’t do all 500 Native American casinos in a day either. And you certainly can’t visit them all within a year.
I personally wouldn’t want to rush through a tour of these casinos, spending only a few hours at each one.
When it comes to the games casinos offer, you’re also not just looking for variety. There’s more to a gambling experience than just the games available. People, even gamblers, enjoy learning about the histories of the tribes and their cultures. And there’s usually a nice museum or gift shop close to casinos on tribal lands.
If Las Vegas isn’t in your budget, you can still find a great casino resort close to where you live and that falls within your vacation budget. And because of the great number of Native American casinos, you have far more choices than what’s located on the four-mile Las Vegas Strip.
Support a Community Rather Than a Corporation
It’s not as cut and dry as it may seem. Many tribes hire experienced casino management corporations to come in and develop their properties and run the venues. But the casinos are owned by the tribes, who are sovereign nations.
If you’re curious about how the members of tribes benefit from casinos, read this article from Indian Country Today. It busts a lot of popular myths that outsiders form about the Native American gaming industry, which (contrary to widely held belief) is regulated.
Who would you prefer to help with your vacation, a billionaire or a few thousand Native Americans? Sure enough, it’s okay if you want to spend your money in Vegas. In the end, it’s your vacation. But that’s not what this article is about.
I personally look at every trip to a Native American casino as a way to enrich my life and a few other people who aren’t billionaires. I don’t dislike those who are wealthy, but they definitely aren’t in need of my money.
Not Every Movie and TV Show Is Filmed in Vegas
Even if the resort you visit wasn’t used in a movie or TV show, a lot of these places are located close to famous landmarks.
The Snoqualmie casino I mentioned is close to North Bend. The cult-classic TV show Twin Peaks was filmed mostly in the towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend. Yes, there really are twin mountain peaks there, and many of the businesses in the show really exist.
Many famous western movies were filmed on or close to the reservations that own casinos. It’s hard to drive through casino country and not find movie landmark locations, too.
And some of these casinos host conventions and festivals. One particular festival of note for film and TV buffs is California’s American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival. The festival is hosted at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA.
Native American Casinos Offer Different Slot Games
Although classic real money slot games can be found everywhere, Native American casinos have long hosted Class II games, which are bingo games that work like slot games.
Players who want to see reels spin and win bonus rounds on gaming machines won’t be disappointed. The games’ results are determined by live call bingo games.
In recent years, slot gaming has transitioned close to the Vegas-style of Class III slots, probably because Aristocrat Games bought VGT. But you’ll still find some unique gaming experiences in Native American casinos.
In addition to different slot games, I’ve heard about unusual variations on video poker and video keno. Anyone who wants to experience different styles of gameplay should appreciate at least one visit to their nearest tribal casino.
Gambling should not be the only reason why you visit a large casino. There are enough casino resorts spread across the United States so everyone who wants to enjoy the casino experience at least once can do so. You don’t have to gamble to see what’s going on.
The resorts offer a lot of things to do and most are located close to other attractions. The largest resorts offer some world-class entertainment, and some of them host television shows and specials. You may just be able to appear in an audience shot if you time it right.
While I think everyone should visit Las Vegas at least once, your casino travel experience won’t be complete until you have visited at least a few Native American venues. Judge the experience for yourself.