When it comes to casinos, Florida is no Las Vegas. The Seminole Tribe, owner of six casinos across the state; and Disney, owner of, well, everything else, have been doing their darnedest to make sure it stays that way. Both pumped millions into a 2018 anti-casino campaign aimed at keeping the competition at bay. But there are still plenty of good options for people looking to scratch their gambling itch. You simply need to stay abreast of the casinos' offerings so you (and your lungs) know what to expect.
Here, in alphabetical order, is our list of the ten best casinos in South Florida. Good luck!
The Big Easy Casino831 N. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach
Hurricane Irma left the Mardi Gras Casino in shambles in 2017 when the storm tore the roof off the place. That's when Fontainebleau Miami Beach owner Jeffrey Soffer stepped in to purchase the facility. Under his ownership, the venue was remodeled and renamed the Big Easy. Here you'll find more than 700 slots and what Big Easy claims is the largest number of video poker games in Florida. Need to puff while you play? The patio for smokers, billed the Dog Pound, offers slot machines in addition to flat-screen TVs and luxury seating. Just don't expect to see any real dogs here or anywhere else in the casino: Big Easy is dunzo with live greyhound racing. Sunday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday and Saturday 24 hours.
The Casino @ Dania Beach301 E. Dania Beach Blvd., Dania Beach
Regardless of whether you know what a cesta is, you should catch jai alai in person at least once in your life. There might not be a better place to watch a bunch of dudes whip the ball at 200-plus mph than this the Casino @ Dania Beach, which has been hosting jai alai for more than 60 years. Jai alai doesn't command anywhere close to the number of spectators it did in its heyday, but the sport still has a following here, where the games take place six days a week with seating for 500. It doesn't hurt that you can put a little action on the competition either. Prefer to try your luck on a game you understand? The smoke-free casino offers more than 750 slots and a 24-table card room. Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday through Sunday 24 hours.
Casino Miami3500 NW 37th Ave., Miami
As of early 2020, this no-frills casino near Miami International Airport is the only place in the state you'll find a William Hill race book. The race book opened in December 2019 and takes bets on jai alai, as well as thoroughbred, harness, and greyhound racing nationwide, all from the comfort of its state-of-the-art viewing facility (the hope is that sports betting is one day legalized in Florida so that the race book can be a sports book as well). If that's not your thing, Casino Miami also offers live Jai alai and around 1,000 Las Vegas-style slot machines. Be sure to take advantage of the $50 in free play for new members. Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., Friday through Sunday 24 hours.
Gulfstream Park901 S. Federal Hwy., Hallandale Beach
Looking for a place to play the ponies live and up close? Gulfstream Park offers live racing year-round (except in October and November) on its charming track, complete with a pond in the center. The kiddies will love gawking at the horses in the paddock and then watching them haul ass around the one-mile oval. Adults and children alike will dig the 110-foot bronze Pegasus sculpture that towers over the entrance; it's said to be the second-tallest statue in the continental United States. (Lady Liberty is number one.) Parking and track admission are free, so there are two fewer costs to tote up when you’re counting your losses. Open daily 24 hours.
Hialeah Park Racing & Casino100 E. 32nd St., Hialeah
One of South Florida's most storied gambling venues, Hialeah Park opened to the public in 1922, when it was known as the Miami Kennel Club. Back then, the spot was little more than a greyhound-racing track. Now, after a huge renovation, the venue offers electronic roulette and blackjack, as well as more than 800 slot machines. A poker room on the second floor draws players from across the region to regularly scheduled tournaments. And horses have replaced the greyhounds, with seasonal races onsite and year-round races simulcast on screens in the Champions Sports Bar. Fun fact: Hialeah Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as an Audubon Bird Sanctuary, the latter thanks to the colony of flamingos living on the racetrack's infield. Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday through Sunday 24 hours.
Isle Casino Pompano Park777 Isle of Capri Circle, Pompano Beach
The massive ten-year expansion plan at Isle Casino Pompano Park is expected to break ground this year and is set to include an entertainment district and a lake for swimming. Until then, visitors can enjoy live harness racing during the winter, a 40-plus-table poker room, and nearly 1,500 slot machines in this smoke-free "racino" (a portmanteau of "racetrack" and "casino"). And don't forget to stuff your face with shrimp and crab legs at Farmer's Pick Buffet's seafood spread. Pigging out at a casino buffet is a time-honored tradition. Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday through Sunday 24 hours.
Magic City Casino450 NW 37th Ave., Miami
This Miami casino is more than just the setting of the viral dirty-dancing-elderly-couple video. Magic City Casino offers 800 slot machines and boasts that it pays more jackpots than any other casino in Miami. And in 2018, it replaced greyhound racing (after Floridians voted to ban it by the end of 2020) with jai alai. As documented in Miami filmmaker Billy Corben’s documentary Magic City Hustle, the nonsmoking casino converted former athletes from the University of Miami into Magic City jai alai players. Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Miccosukee Resort & Gaming500 Krome Ave., Miami
If you've never ventured farther west than Tamiami, you've probably never encountered Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. Also, you're definitely missing out. Here, players can take their pick of 2,000 machines, ranging from new releases to classic slots. If you want to go really old-school, head to the Bingo Hall, a resort institution that dates to 1990. And, hey, if you win big (or if you just throw back a few too many at the martini bar), you can celebrate by crashing at the resort for the night. Open daily 24 hours.
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Seminole Casino Coconut Creek5550 NW 40th St., Coconut Creek
No need to hit up a machine to get your blackjack fix. Like the Seminole Hard Rock (see below), Seminole Casino Coconut Creek is one of only a handful of casinos in Florida legally allowed to offer live-action blackjack. (The others, not coincidentally, are also Seminole properties. The tribe made a deal with the state in exchange for a cut of the revenue.) But if you prefer man-versus-machine action, the smoke-heavy Coconut Creek, which offers a nonsmoking second floor, boasts 2,000 slot machines, including the Walking Dead 2, Monopoly Hot Shot, and Wonder Woman Wild. If lady luck is on your side, treat yourself at the New York Yankees-themed high-end steakhouse, NYY Steak. Open daily 24 hours.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino1 Seminole Way, Hollywood
Look for the 450-foot-tall guitar-shaped hotel — not that you can miss it from the Turnpike or just about anywhere else within several miles. The gnarly gee-tar tower was part of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's $1.5 billion renovation, which was completed in late 2019 and includes 3,000 new slot machines, 193 table games, and a 46-table poker room. The complex also offers the best music and comedy acts among all South Florida casinos, the fine-dining Japanese restaurant Kuro, and a 4.5-acre lagoon-style pool. Plus, the place is part of morbid pop-culture history: Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose on the premises in 2007. Open daily 24 hours.