Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. View from Las Vegas Blvd.

The front entrance

The first time I ever went to Circus Circus was in the late 80s, and then again in the early 90s. Back then, it was one of my favorite casinos. The casino had a fun vibe to it. It wasn’t until later, as a much older adult, did I hear other adults grumble about the kids running amuck at Circus Circus. Just for nostalgia’s sake, I decided to visit Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Circus Circus is located on the north end of Las Vegas Blvd, aka ‘the Strip’. While the north end of the Strip has a reputation for being decrepit and run down, it’s starting to make a come back. Nearby is the ultra luxurious Wynn. Resorts World, which is another high end mega resort, is being built nearby, too. After SLS is sold and rebranded, there actually might be an uptick in traffic to the north end.

I called up a female friend and asked her to accompany me to Circus Circus. As an older adult, I felt a little weird going into Circus Circus by myself, since there are so many families with little kids walking around. She refused to accompany me. Her excuse: it’s old and run down, and there are too many little kids running around. She insisted on Venetian.

So I called up another female friend in one of the gambling forums and bribed her into escorting me around Circus Circus. She agreed, but asked why not go to Wynn?

So many judgmental people! Sheesh!

We ended up at Circus Circus, and my first friend was right. When I went to Circus Circus in the 90s, I remember kids running around, but today there were more kids than what I remembered.

Kids running around, being kids and having fun.

Tons of parents with strollers. I have never seen so many strollers in a gambling joint, or really anywhere. On a per square foot basis, I’m willing to bet this casino has more people pushing strollers than Disneyland. Witness…

another stroller…
…you get the point. I took all three of these pics not more than a minute apart.

But guess what? Circus Circus is one of the most profitable casinos in the MGM portfolio:

TL;DR…the article says Circus Circus is hugely profitable.

And yes, the casino is run down and quite old, but there’s a good reason why it’s so profitable. It’s the rare casino that truly caters to families; where mom and dad can go with their little kids, engage in a little bit of escapism, and no one there will pass judgment on mom and dad. On an interesting side note, Circus Circus is allegedly the only Las Vegas strip casino without a mortgage, so earnings at Circus Circus go straight into the MGM’s bottom line.

The gambling is also very cheap and forces it’s gambler to low roll. So mom and dad can take $100 to Circus Circus and have it last all day long.

Circus Circus has a party pit that has no go-go dancers. While there are no go-go dancers, there is the presence of very loud rock music…then followed by pop music. It’s a weird musical mish mash.

Circus Circus has a branding deal with Vince Neil. Kind of makes sense because a lot of the kids who grew up listening to Vince Neil are now moms and pops who bring their kids to Circus Circus.

The craps is a measly double odds, $5 minimum. This sounds stingy, but the low roller isn’t going to bust a $500 bankroll in a single day. The $5 minimum and 2x odds means that you will be betting low, and a cold streak will not wipe you out. Not to mention, there are almost no casinos left on the Las Vegas strip that have $5 minimum limits. Circus Circus has $5 minimum limits.

The blackjack is mostly 6-5, with one 3-2 table, $5 minimum. I verified with the dealer that all the tables were 6-5, except for a lone 3-2 table.

Vince Neil covered blackjack felt
Mom plays blackjack, while dad watches the children. Nothing wrong with a little familial team work.
I sat down for a few hands at the 3-2 table. I refuse to play 6-5 blackjack.

Roulette is has a higher limit at $15 minimum and a lower $5 minimum.

This is the high limit version of Circus Circus roulette, at $15 minimum per spin. Other roulette tables were $5.

The drink service is relatively fast. I ordered 3 drinks in about 30 minutes.

The cocktail waitress outfit at Circus Circus is G rated, unlike some of the outfits next door. Drink service was very efficient.

My friend and I played craps for an hour, caught two hot shooters and won about $200 each. That was at a $5 game with double odds.

Circus circus doesn’t have the most number of slot machines, but most other popular brands and slot machines are on the floor. In keeping with the circus theme, there’s a carousel of slots that slowly revolves, as if the slot player was on a circus carousel.

Typical slot machines. The machines seemed to be looser than at the fancy high end casinos.
The carousel of slots, which slowly revolves.

My friend loves roulette, so we next went to the roulette table. We sat and played next to a guy who was smelling like weed. His wife comes up and says, ‘it’s your turn to watch (the kids)’. So he gets up, leaving his chips there, and she sits down, orders a drink and starts drinking and playing. She gets really excited when she hits a 28 straight up for $2. Later he comes back to relieve her (or is it she relieves him) and the cycle repeats.

I really enjoy a beer with my roulette. It’s a simple pleasure. My friend and I caught up over  an hour of roulette. I ended up winning about $45 and ordered a very tasty tequila sunrise and two beers.

After playing at Circus Circus for a few hours, the place started growing on me. It all made sense to me. As a little kid, my parents took me to the local circus that would make semi-annual trips to our small town. The traveling circus had this old gritty feel and smell to it. If you’ve ever been to an actual circus, you would understand. Except for the performers in the trapeze act, nothing at a real circus is glamorous or five star. Every circus has a cheesy and retro feel to it. That’s part of the appeal of a real circus. It’s part of the small town nostalgia of many people’s youth.

By design or accidental happenstance, Circus Circus captures the low budget nostalgic charm of a traveling circus. Circus Circus genuinely feels like…a circus.

The other component of Circus Circus is that no one will judge you for engaging in adult activities with your children in the proximity. If you go anywhere else in the country, and you tried combining vices, such as gambling and drinking with children, the Puritans would have a fit. At Circus Circus, it’s all normal. I mean, look at the liquor store near the entrance with a kiddy circus theme. No joke:

A store that sells liquor, with a kiddie theme
Sign outside the Circus Spirits store. That’s not a bad deal, if you’re not gambling.
There’s candy and adult beverages, all in one convenient place.
Remember when companies like Marlboro got in trouble for allegedly marketing to kids? Well…

And that’s the reason I think Circus Circus makes money for MGM and is packed. Families with young children feel safe and accepted doing something that would otherwise be frowned upon anywhere else. They won’t be judged. And they can do it for cheap cheap cheap.

That’s the charm of Circus Circus. I hope they never tear it down. We have enough high-end fancy joints in Vegas with $15 and $25 minimums. Las Vegas needs a Circus Circus type casino.

I like Circus Circus enough, I decided to make a craps video of the Circus Circus craps game.  I wanted to capture a game at Circus Circus in case one day they tear down Circus Circus to build another high-end mega resort. Stay tuned. The video is coming soon.

The walkway to the exit. Time to leave. Until next time…


Posted in: Casino, Craps, Gambling, Hotel

0 thoughts on “Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas: Real Circus Charm Underneath the Exterior

    • Yes, I didn’t see any circus acts when I was there, but according to someone who was recently at Circus Circus, the circus acts still happen. There’s supposed to be seating on the second floor for a sit down view of the acts. There’s also supposed to be a time sheet where you can check the upcoming act. Thanks to Mr. Joey Barton for this info.

  • Hey R.G.

    Enjoy your videos. I couldn’t achieve the same appreciation. It was like the feeling of how big your high school was then re-visiting it only to realize how small. I did appreciate the craps hard table and stood and played exactly where you stood where you walk down those first few stairs to reach the table. I went on a Saturday and they has $10 minimum which was surprising with no one at the table at noon time.

    I did see the circus act performing, but had no real desire to see it. In my childhood town the circus would come every year and that was enjoyable. The smell of the corn dogs and cotton candy, was great..! We did play many games for tickets which was fun… more so for the wife than me but I do enjoy making her happy.

    Wish you well in your endeavors, I live in Las Vegas and love craps, shoot me an email as I would enjoy a conversation on craps with you.

    • I can totally understand your perspective. Circus Circus is indeed a smaller casino, without the glitz.

      The $10 minimum is new. I’m surprised, too.

      Thanks for the update.

  • Circus Circus table was pretty hard though. I know you did not ask but, in regard to my comment on “Hard Tables”… I thought I would give you some content and share a few of my favorite Casinos in Vegas based on table hardness. Why Hard Tables..? That is another story entirely , but in general you want to roll the dice intentionally with as little influence as possible. I’m not selling anything.. just sharing a little.

    I’ve been practicing at Intentional Dice Rolling (IDR) at as many places as possible each morning, I’m good… real good but I cut and run… just playing with small amounts. Just for the challenge, I roll for the all , tall and small. If there was a World Series of Poker (WSOP) for Craps (WSOC) , I would compare my skills to anyone. Anyone can get there but it takes practice and I’ve logged many hundreds of hours.

    Additionally, my real strength is my patience and ability to take the loss. In fact that is the sole reason Vegas stands today. The tourist comes in, loses a little or a lot and tries to win it back. Then ultimately loses. When you live here you know you will have strong days and weak days. You stop short on the weak days and build on the strong days. You can’t do that when visiting , you just don’t have the time. How many times have you seen the player do really really good and then lose it all back and then some.

    The key is a good first (I’m very tight) day and week to build bankroll. Now I only play with winnings but when I started, there were days when I was happy with $50 in profit. Usually wake up at 7 and roll right out and back by 10:00 (My Time) . Then the wife and I go to breakfast. We might spend our time at 3 additional casinos the rest of the day or shopping or just checking vegas out.

    I watch (bet no pass) most of the other folks who random roll and then I roll for 5 (bad) 30 (Made My Profit) and often 60 minutes. The dealer comes back from break and the boss says “He’s still rollin”. There still trying to figure out if I’m cheating… but I have had no one ever complain. Even had a few shorty’s but I tip as frequent as I can and talk to everyone loudly about nothing. I don’t smoke, but will occasionally and or have a beer to keep them off of me but only when I know I’ve made my profit for the day. Willpower to not give it back is very easy for me and I could write a book on how and why. Folks winning from me often clap, some give me money and once the entire table passed the dice to me. A funny story was a couple actually thought they were supposed to pay me (I guess) and insisted I take some of their winnings. I told them no but they insisted… I’m a Karma kind of guy so I took it.

    Ok so here’s my casino craps table scoring from 1 to 10 with 10 being the Hardest/Best for me.

    10- Ballys. Rock Hard . They watched and let me do my thing in prime (8:00PM) time.
    8- Binions. Not rock hard but I “Sweet” roll. Is one of my favorite places, wish I had video of them.
    8- Excalibur – Good Hard.
    8- Cosmopolitan. Table was like a gymnasium bouncy and the dealers were polite but pretentious .
    7- The Cromwell. Bouncy but has the 100x odds everyone likes so much.
    5- California. Stay away from California.. only 2.5 odds.. better at main street right next store.

    West of 15
    9- Goldcoast. Craps is good.
    8- Palms: Surprised semi hard table… dealers are fun. There remodeling
    -1000 Rampart. Stay Away. It is in Summerlin and the dealers are a-holes or I had a bad experience.
    9- Orleans. Good..semi-hard

    8- Southpoint. Is OK… nice place but there is better… good deli sandwich and sports book is very nice.
    8- Silverton is nice

    10- Sams Town slight nod to Sams Town as they let you (111) the all ,small,tall
    10 – Jokers Wild. The Hardest I’ve ever played. I don’t do well there and I know why but as hard as it comes.
    9- Jerrys Nugget. Hard.
    9- Boulder Station you must (5,5,5) the ATS.
    9- Station Casinos All: Texas, Fiesta, Santa Fe, Palace, Gold Coast) Better than most with a nod to Palace.
    8 – Green Valley Ranch. Friendly but watch the tables as all are different with different bets available.

    Sorry got a little carried away with my thoughts and some free time from the holidays.

    P.S. Most any casino will let you place a PASS bet after the point is established and not move it to the line for the correct payout. I’ve seen it many, many times. The player actually thinks there doing the right thing too.

    P.S.S I can Intentionally roll many come out 7’s and Eleven’s and am not afraid to press beyond the minimum. If it gets to high and you point at a dollar amount beyond your comfort level, just place a “No” bet to cover most of it after the point is established.

    1st PASS = $5 and you win $5 and press to $10
    2nd PASS= $10 and you win $10 and press to $20
    3rd PASS=$20 and you win $20 and press to $40
    4th PASS=$40 and you point on a 6

    If your concerned about not making the six or the $40 is a bit steep for you just lay the six for $48. That will pay $40 if you seven out and your lose the $8 dollars but it is better then losing the $40. Now roll for the other place bets you may have or the All , Tall Small. Me personally, I know I’ve only put at risk $5 and think I can make the six and would never.. but some folks put $5 out there and win $5, put it in there rack and do it 4 times with a profit of $15 only to put that $15 dollars behind in an ODDS bet to lose it. In my example you have a chance to win $40 with only $5 at risk and if this is out of your comfort zone , don’t put an ODDS bet.

    Thanks, 7UWIN.

    • You are so right about hard tables VS bouncy. I also have found that the real fancy casinos have shitty tables. My favorite table is the low stakes table at Excalibur. Ppl always make fun of that place because its old and dated but the bounce on the craps table is very good and during the day they let you bet $5 on the pass line as long as it isn’t a holiday or busy weekend. I usually play Monday thru Weds or Thurs and they always have $5 minimum before about 4PM. I like the tables at Ballys too. All in all I have noticed that the fancier the casino is, the bouncier the craps tables are. So now, I never play at ant Wynn property, Every now and then I do Caesars. South lake tahoe is all bouncy tables except the tables at Harrahs and in Reno the best tables are at the Eldorado as far as bounce. Good luck man, love the analysis.

  • kekoaokalani says:

    Hello RG , I found you on you tube and thought I’ll check out what’s going on here. I live in a State that has no casinos and have to fly 5hrs to get to Vegas. I do this 3 to 4 times a year so tips and insights from this blog are very helpful. I am a newbie to dice control and alternate between craps and black jack. Although my Vegas trips are between 4 days to a week I’m a disciplined low roller. Good Luck on your future adventures and have a Happy New Year.

    • Hi kekoaokalani,

      Say you stay 4 nights. That gives you at least 3 days of session time. Most sane advisors tell you to break your bankroll into sessions. Example: You have (just to keep it simple) $600 a day times 3 days for a total of $1800. More on this in a minute but for now, if your SMART and actually willing have fun to WIN. That’s right I said it.. willing to have fun to WIN. You see having fun and winning is the goal. It is both.. why do I say that because if you just wanted to have fun you might go see a comedian or rent a supercar or ???. Conversely, if you just wanted to WIN you would put your entire budget on the line and roll or watch someone else roll. So if you think about it, we love this game because it is fun and you can WIN. Additionally (for me) it is kinda cool most don’t understand… and to me that is the “I’m Cool” factor.

      Now most folks buy in with a generous amount, lose a little, reach in their pocket for more to “Win it back” or try to “get even” and can’t walk away till they lose it all.. then there bummed out for 3 days. That’s referred to as “Tilting” or “Gamblers Curse” and both are what the casino wants.

      Don’t be that guy anymore… in fact the number one lesson in gambling is… is to “Be Able to Take A Loss” . That’s the key, know and understand there are streaks. So when things are good… raise your amounts… (it’s actually awkward) when things are bad… minimize or just leave.

      Can you do it..? Most cannot . I’ll relate it to this… smoking and or drinking. Most smokers/drinkers have to have them.. they plan their life around them. Gambling is a lot like that as well. It’s addiction. But a few no addicted can have a drink or a cigarette and don’t really smoke or drink. You need that and to be in complete control of yourself.

      When I play, I have rules, I buy in with everything I have for that session. In your example of $1800 for 3 days. I would have (3) Daily $200 sessions for the three days with a WIN STOP of $100 or the session loss. I know it sounds not so fun… but let me explain.

      Rome was not built in a day and nor should your bankroll but you must treat it like GOLD, very precious because without it (or frequent trips to ATM) you tend to lose more than just the money… things like wives, houses, dogs and children tend to disappear 🙂 I’ll share with you that in most months I visit the casino five days a week with a $300 buy in. I walk with $150 to $1500… A DAY in profit on top of the buy in. I’m a professional and still had 4 ($1,200) losing days… it happens but the wins way way exceed the losses. Now my bankroll was $10,000 that I started about 6 years ago. I only play with casino money now and have won 3 times that in cash in my safe and have not visited the ATM for casino money in those last 6 years. Never have I ever exceeded that $300 buy in.. I TAKE THE LOSS and look forward to the next day.

      Back to your example… at 3 WINS x$100 a day is $300 profit daily. Let’s say you lost once a day so you still have $200 profit a day times 3 days is $600. But, if you lost once each day for (3) days that’s $200 times 3 or $600. So, you did all that playing and broke even.

      Two things here… you must try and minimize each loss and maximize the win profit. There are a few ways to do this but one of them is … decide if you want to have fun or make profit. I call make profit, “WORK” I say to the wife ” I’m going to WORK” or say hey you want to go out and have fun..?

      FUN= Buy in and have a great time… see what happens. Family and friends too if desired.
      WORK= By yourself, early in the morning and with work goals of at least doubling up or triple.

      So.. with a work day, be focused, very focused… each dollar is like GOLD. But play to win… go for it.

      I’ll stop here but think about what “going for it” is to you… or what it means… look at the table and think… “Am I really happy placing the six and eight for $6 each..?” “Do I really think that the six or eight is going to hit 10 times each so I can make some money..?”

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