So you want to take your luck on the road? Avery Cardoza, publisher of the poker and gambling e-zine www.cardozaonline.com, says America's leading hotspots for gaming are Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica, Miss., with its ten very active casinos, and Connecticut, where he says Foxwoods and Mohegan are the two largest and most profitable casinos in the world.
"The rebuilding of Gulf Coast casinos after the devastation of Katrina puts them back on the gambler's map too," Cardoza observes.
Here's a look at some of the the country's top spots to strike it rich.
Just 30 minutes west of Memphis, Tenn., and far up-river from Katrina's devastation, Tunica, Miss., is the third-largest gaming attraction in the United States after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It attracts more than 15 million visitors a year. The city has more than 40 restaurants and 6,300 modern hotel rooms, and it boasts three championship golf courses to entertain visitors who aren't in the casinos. Contact tunicamiss.com or call 800-4-TUNICA.
In Biloxi, Miss., a short trip from New Orleans, about 10 casinos are back in business, includinig MGM Mirage's newly renovated, 3.2 million-square-foot Beau Rivage, which has about 2,000 rooms, 11 restaurants, a 1,550-seat theater, a salon and spa, golf course and more. The gaming area includes 93 table games, a two-tier poker room with 16 tables, 2,100 slot machines, 230 video poker machines and more.
Harrah's Grand Biloxi Casino and resort also underwent massive post-Katrina renovations and includes a 500-room hotel, championship golf course, fine dining, live entertainment, a full-service salon and spa, fitness center and more. The 24-hour casino includes 800 slots, 25 table games and poker.
Outside the casinos, there's shrimping, canoe trips, the drag strip and schooner trips, and the landmark Walter Anderson Museum of Art was the first major attraction to reopen after Katrina. Updates and reopenings are announced daily. Visit www.gulfcoast.org or call 888-467-4853.
Blazing back from the doldrums it sank into as a day trip for nickel slot players, Atlantic City, N.J., has gone for Las Vegas-style glitz. Two years ago about 35 million people spent close to $5 billion at the city's casinos.
New among the non-gambling attractions is a $210 million beachfront shopping mall with 90 shops (including Gucci, Bebe, Armani, Tiffany) 10 restaurants, a wedding chapel, two nightclubs and a razzle-dazzle water and light show.
Trump Taj Mahal has been renovated and the 27-story Regency Apartments has been transformed into the ritzy Bella Condominiums. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa expanded to the tune of $200 million in 2006, adding three restaurants and 51 more poker tables for a total now of more than 80. The expansion spree is now into Phase II, adding a 43-story hotel tower with 800 rooms and suites.
Call (888) 228-4748 or go to www.atlanticcitynj.com.
Still the casino queen (there are at least 42 on the Strip) and an entertainment juggernaut, Las Vegas takes in $6 billion a year from gambling and another $7 billion from non-gambling spending at restaurants, 133,000 hotel rooms, hot-ticket shows and retail shops. Name the nation's top shows and stars and they're playing Vegas. Single concerts, Broadway shows and glittering revues and cabaret shows as well as the awesome Cirque du Soleil are spectacles around the clock and around the calendar.
The newest noise here is the Red Rock Casino, which opened in 2006. A total vacation destination with 414 hotel rooms and 3,000 of the newest slots and videos, it offers fabulous dining and spa plus outdoor adventures such as rock climbing and hiking. It's 20 minutes from the Strip on the edge of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Contact www.visitlasbegas.com or (877) 847-4858.
Just a short jump away from dozens of major Northeastern cities are Native American gambling resorts Foxwoods at Mashantucket, Conn., and Mohegan Sun Casino at Uncasville, Conn.
Mohegan Sun is a full-service resort with a hotel, spa, restaurants, 30 retail shops, child care and a glittering cabaret. The resort is 100 percent smoke free. Play the slots, blackjack or roulette while staying in a swank, AAA Four Diamond, 1,200-room hotel.
At Foxwoods, stay in a choice of three classy hotels surrounded by dining, entertainment and gambing that begins with 7,000 slots and video poker machines. Play any amount from one cent to $100.
Within a short drive from both resorts are two vineyards that offer wine tastings, Mystic Seaport with its historic ships and displays, and Mystic Aquarium. At Foxwoods, an 80,000-square-foot Native American museum features a full-size, re-created Pequot village. Contact www.Foxwoods.com or (800) FOXWOODS, or visit www.Mohegansun.com or call (888) 226-7711.
Janet Groene is an expert in eating on the go. Her books include Fantastic Discounts & Deals for Anyone Over 50, Cooking Aboard Your RV and Open Road Caribbean Guide.
Biloxi Casinos & Reservations Information
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, 875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, Miss., (888) 567-6667; www.beaurivage.com
Boomtown Casino, 676 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, Miss., (800) 627-0777; www.boomtownbiloxi.com
Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis, 711 Hollywood Blvd. Bay St. Louis, Miss., (866) 758-2591; www.hollywoodcasinobsl.com
Grand Biloxi Casino, 280 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, Miss., (800) 946-2946; www.harrahs.com/casinos/grand-casino-biloxi
IP Hotel & Casino, 850 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, Miss., (888) 946-2847; www.ipbiloxi.com
Island View Casino Resort, 3216 W. Beach Blvd., Gulfport, Miss., (877) 774-8439; www.islandviewcasino.com
Isle of Capri Casino Resort, 151 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, Miss., (800) 843-4753; www.isleofcapricasino.com/Biloxi
Palace Casino Resort, 158 Howard Ave., Biloxi, Miss., (800) 725-2239
Silver Slipper, 5000 South Beach Blvd., Lakeshore, Miss., (866) 775-4773; www.silverslipper.ms.com
Treasure Bay Casino, 1980 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, Miss., (800) 747-2839; www.treasurebay.com