USA Today released its best casino hotels in the US last month, with Mohegan Sun in Connecticut taking top honors.
This week, USA Today delivered another list of gaming-related rankings. The “10Best Readers’ Choice Awards: Best Casino Outside of Las Vegas 2019” focuses on the gaming experience.
Coming in at No. 1 is the Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside, California. The tribal property, located 30 miles northeast of San Diego, offers more than 75 table games and 2,500 slot machines.
Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, and Pechanga Resort Casino in California, are second and third. Reno’s Grand Sierra is fourth, and Connecticut’s other tribal casino – Mohegan Sun – rounds out the top five.
10Best.com says it provides “original, unbiased, and experiential travel content,” and that “no business pays to be listed.”
The rankings are formed by the 10Best editorial staff, along with gaming industry analysts. For the casinos outside Las Vegas list, experts from the American Casino Guide, Gaming and Destinations magazine, and Casino Player magazine were brought in. Wizard of Odds’ Michael Shackleford was also consulted.
10Best Casinos Outside Las Vegas
Barona Resort & Casino – Lakeside, California
Foxwoods Resort Casino – Mashantucket, Connecticut
Pechanga Resort Casino – Temecula, California
Grand Sierra Resort – Reno, Nevada
Mohegan Sun – Uncasville, Connecticut
Encore Boston Harbor Resort – Everett, Massachusetts
Resorts World Catskills – Monticello, New York
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa – Reno, Nevada
Turning Stone Resort Casino – Verona, New York
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino – Biloxi, Mississippi
Native American Casinos
So, what makes a good casino? A few common answers include friendly table game dealers, 3:2 blackjack payouts, and single zero roulette. Free slot play and loose machines, a robust loyalty program, and smoke-free floors are other qualifiers often cited in designating a good casino.
Of the 10Best non-Las Vegas casinos, five are owned and operated by Native Americans. Affordability is also key for making a good casino resort experience. In Las Vegas, that’s becoming increasingly difficult due to ever-growing resort fees.
Resort fees are as high as $45 a day in Las Vegas at premiere properties such as Bellagio, Wynn, Venetian, and Palazzo. But at most tribal casino resorts, those add-on fees are typically much lower – or even nonexistent.
Daily Resort Fees
Mohegan Sun: $24.95
Turning Stone: $0
Meanwhile, the Grand Sierra charges a $33/day resort fee, Encore $0, Resorts $19.99, Atlantis $30, and Beau $16.
Beating Las Vegas
Resort fee critics say Las Vegas is now run by corporations that cater more to their shareholders than customers. That’s playing into the favor of non-Sin City casinos.
“It is almost poetic to receive this top distinction, because Barona is patterned after the casinos from the Golden Age of Las Vegas, when the casino player was the focus. We recognize, reward, and welcome casino players,” Barona Resort GM Rick Salinas said.