I travel to a lot of gambling destinations, so I’m regularly asked by readers to name my favorite gambling destination in the United States. My answer is clear: Las Vegas. It’s far and away my favorite destination.
If I were to pick one word to describe Las Vegas, that word would be ‘sexy’. I’m not talking about ‘sexy’ in the lascivious sense (although there is that); rather, I’m talking ‘sexy’ in the sense that there’s an ‘it’ factor. Las Vegas is the hot girl that everyone wants to hang around and sit next to at lunch. It’s the 24/7 house party where everyone wants to go. Las Vegas stands out above all other gambling destinations because it just has the ‘it’ factor that makes everyone want it.
There are so many factors to consider when discussing what makes Las Vegas so cool. These are my four reasons why I find Las Vegas to be so sexy, why I want to be around it, and why I keep going back and back.
‘IT’ FACTOR #1: UNRIVALED VARIETY CHOICES FOR EVERYTHING, FROM FAMILY AND ADULT THEMED SHOWS TO FOOD TO GAMBLING.
When it comes to variety, Las Vegas has almost everything you could want from a gambling destination. For almost everything vacation and gambling related, if you name the desired activity, you will be faced with a choice.
This is a partial list some of the shows I’ve seen over the years: Wayne Brady, who is an improv genius; Jerry Seinfeld; Rodney Dangerfield (RIP); Penn & Teller; Carrot Top (very funny guy, but a bit freaky and obviously on roids when I saw him); Kesha (don’t judge, I love her music); Britney Spears; IHeartRadio concert; almost every Cirque du Soleil show (Zumanity was my favorite, the nudity is well done and nice); for adult shows Zombie Burlesque, Fantasy, Absinthe, X Burlesque, Le Reve at Wynn; for magic acts, David Copperfield, Criss Angel (I’m a fan), Mac King, Matt Franco, Terry Fator (go see him); for variety shows, Blue Man Group (I highly recommend).
I’ve eaten at around 50 different buffets in Las Vegas and about 100+ different Las Vegas restaurants in the last year alone. My favorite, if cost is not factored in, is the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. I did a pictorial review of it here, with every dish: https://roadgambler.com/casino/every-dish-bacchanal-buffet-caesars-palace-las-vegas/
The food options in Las Vegas are too voluminous to list, but you have options from cheap fast food to casual grab-and-go dining to three-star Michelin-rated restaurants. If you want to spoil yourself, book Joël Robuchon at the MGM. Call them rather than book online, as they have more availability when you call. Talk about sexy; that restaurant is the epitome of sexy, with their high level of service and unrivaled food. If you’ve never been to a three-star Michelin rated restaurant, try it at least once in your life.
If you are a fried chicken fan, try the Blue Ribbon Fried chicken in the Bally’s Food Court. I’ve had lots of friend chicken across the entire U.S., and this is my favorite. Seriously…forget the sides, get one wing, one drumstick, a breast, and a thigh, and try every sauce they have and then try the chicken without the sauce. I really don’t know if I like the chicken with or without the sauces. I think I prefer the chicken with the sauces, but sometimes I’ll get a second order to taste test it without the sauce.
Now, as far as gambling, Las Vegas has the ultimate variety of options. That’s really the reason most of us go to Las Vegas. From some of the best blackjack to a wide variety of craps games with different table conditions, Las Vegas has it all.
Wanna hear about a sexy blackjack game that’s probably one of the best in the U.S.? M Resort, .14% house edge, double deck, dealer stands on hard 17, re-split aces, double after split, 80% penetration, with only $25 minimum…OMG this game is unbelievably good. Sadly, I am banned from playing this game because, well, let’s just say I was a little too good at this game; but you can play it.
If you like carnival games, Las Vegas has all sorts. Since Las Vegas is the largest casino market in the United States, lots of new games are tested in Las Vegas. You can find games in Las Vegas that you will not find anywhere else, such as Card Dominoes: https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/business-columns/inside-gaming/unlv-grad-creates-casino-dominoes-game-at-plaza-las-vegas-1552037/
Sadly, I didn’t see Card Dominoes the last time I went to Las Vegas and visited the Plaza, which probably means the casino did not lease the game.
Regardless of what you want to play, Las Vegas has it.
Let’s talk craps in Las Vegas, which is my favorite game. Las Vegas has the widest variety of craps games in the entire United States.
Let me try to list the variety of craps games: there are various levels of hard tables and bouncy tables for those who are fans of dice control; there are low limits and high limits, with the lowest limit being $2 at Joker’s Wild in Henderson, which is 30 minutes from the Las Vegas center strip; there are beginner tables, such as at Circus Circus, where the players and dealers won’t give you a hard time if you violate some unwritten rules of etiquette.
If you want to see a real craps game at Circus Circus, check out my footage. Be forewarned, if you’re an experienced player who is bothered by noonish craps behavior, there are lots of things ‘wrong’, but if you’re a beginner who wants to learn without being yelled at, then Circus Circus is perfect: https://youtu.be/d7FHRHPkEFI
All these choices for everything that I could want just makes my senses tingle and stimulate my senses.
‘IT’ FACTOR #2: DRINKING IN PUBLIC IS PART OF THE BAD BOY/GIRL ALLURE OF LAS VEGAS
Alcohol is part of the identity of Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, there is no last call and drinking is allowed in public. There’s a bad boy and bad girl image that comes from drinking in public while walking down the Las Vegas strip.
These are the list of cities or states where you are allowed broadly to drink in public, meaning you are not limited to events or select areas or venues:
- Sonoma, California, it is legal to drink in public;
- Savannah, Georgia, it is legal to drink in public;
- Indianapolis, Indiana, it is legal to drink in public;
- New Orleans., Louisiana, it is legal to drink in public;
- Gulfport, Mississippi, it is legal to drink in public (ahhh, come on Biloxi and Tunica);
- Butte, Montana, it is legal to drink in public;
- Hood River, Oregon, it is legal to drink in public;
- Erie, Pennsylvania, it is legal to drink in public;
- The cities of Arlington, Fort Worth, and Fredricksburg, Texas, it is legal to drink in public;
- Finally, in Las Vegas, it is legal to drink in public
As you see, there are a few places in the U.S. where one can drink in public; however, drinking in public in Butte, Montana or Indianapolis doesn’t have the same cool factor of drinking in public in Las Vegas. I know from experience. I was walking around with an open container in Indianapolis, and while it was legal, it wasn’t exactly fun. Also, depending on where I was in Indy, I felt that people were looking at me funny.
For those who believe that public drinking leads to debauchery and a societal breakdown, I point to Fredricksburg, Texas. Fredricksburg is an old time tourist town in central Texas, where everyone is well-off and extremely cordial and friendly. It’s not a party town; rather, it’s a wine tasting region with a reputation for delicious peaches in the summer. Fredricksburg is a perfect example of public drinking where everyone is extremely well behaved and well mannered.
Las Vegas is unique in the list. In Las Vegas, having a drink in hand while walking around is not only tolerated, but it’s celebrated, enabled so that you can do it easily, and promoted. The casinos sell drink containers that are designed to be carried in the streets. Downtown Fremont has plastic cups ready for your beer, as you exit the casino.
For sheer public drinking fun and revelry, the city on that list that comes close to Las Vegas on the ‘fun-scale’ is New Orleans, but Las Vegas edges out New Orleans because in Las Vegas, it’s super easy to get a free drink.
There are a ton of tricks you can do to get a free drink in Las Vegas, without gambling or buying anything; good luck trying to score a free drink in New Orleans. One trick is to stand near a craps table and just order a drink from the cocktail waitress. Another tip is to put $20 in the slot machine, don’t play, then pull over a cocktail waitress, order a drink, tip her $1-$5, then cash out without playing. Casinos know about this latter trick, and some are taking half-hearted steps to prevent its’ use (looking at MGM), but most casinos will turn a blind eye because everyone wants you to drink. If everyone is slightly tipsy, it’s the town is more fun. Try the tricks and thank me later.
If for some out-of-this-world reason Las Vegas were to ever ban public drinking, I would not love Las Vegas as much, and the tourism would probably decline significantly (I’m looking at you, Panama City Beach, Florida). Public drinking, and all the stimulus that bounds with the drinking is part of what makes Las Vegas my absolute favorite gambling destination.
Public drinking in Las Vegas is unlike anywhere else in the U.S. that allows drinking in public, and it’s hell’a fun.
‘IT’ FACTOR #3: GAMBLING DEALS IN LAS VEGAS ARE THE BEST IN THE UNITED STATES
When I mean gambling deals, I mean gambling bargains where you can gamble without being ripped off and the odds are mathematically better than anywhere else. Sure, there’s 6-5 blackjack in Las Vegas, but if you chose to play 6-5 blackjack, that’s your own doing. ‘It’ factor number 1 on my list – variety and options – means that you don’t have to play 6-5 blackjack. You also don’t have to play tight slots, either. You have options in Las Vegas because every casino in Las Vegas is competing against the casino down the street for your attention.
When it comes to your gambling money, you are the hot girl that every guy wants. And even if you have a small bankroll, there are places that will roll out the carpet and treat you like a king or queen, just to get you to go home with them.
Casinos make money by getting people to gamble and keeping a small slice of what people gamble. It’s really that simple. So to get people to gamble at their house, casinos will sometimes offer incentives beyond just comps to get you in the door. Those incentives are great gambling deals, like the blackjack game at the M that I listed above. If I were a low roller or an average guy on a small budget, I would gamble on the low limit games with the best chance of winning.
You might not associate the word ‘bargain’ with the word ‘sexy’, but you know what is ‘sexy’? A giant amount of cash that you won because you played smart and hit a big winning streak or a big jackpot at the slot machines. The longer you can play on the same bankroll, the greater chance will you have of hitting that hour-long craps roll, that bonus payout on the blackjack table, or hitting that slot jackpot.
When it comes to slot machines in Las Vegas, they consistently return higher payouts on the 90% and higher: https://wizardofodds.com/games/slots/appendix/3a/
Higher return percentage on slots means that you will gamble for longer, better, and harder. Higher return percentage means you get to spin the reels a few extra times for the same amount of money. Those extra spins may be what gets you that jackpot, which then pays for your entire year’s set of vacations. Just think of every spin as a bullet that you shoot at the jackpot. You want more bullets.
As far as table games, there is an abundance of $5 games throughout Las Vegas with excellent rules. This means that you don’t have to risk as much money to get your gambling thrill. I travel to lots of gambling destinations, and I see the $5 tables becoming a rarity. Even destinations that used to be low roller destinations now regularly have table games that do $10 minimum at nights or on the weekends. In Las Vegas, you can always find a $5 table, even on the strip.
How about craps for $5 and 10x odds? Yep. Go downtown, be raucous with the downtown crowds, then hit the tables.
I am a fan of gambling on the Las Vegas strip when my buddies want to gamble on the strip. Strip gambling is more fun when there are other activities and other people to come along with the activities. When I feel like just getting away from the 24/7 house party known as the Las Vegas strip, I head to Ellis Island Hotel and Casino, which is literally a one minute drive from Bally’s Las Vegas. You can find $5 table game, fast drink service, good BBQ, and friendly fellow gamblers who are there to have fun. Some of the best gambling deals in Las Vegas are just a right or left turn away from the strip.
Wanna play $4 roulette? Go to the Silver 7s, which is one block from Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas casinos are getting significant competition from casinos in other jurisdictions, but the most intense competition is among the Las Vegas casinos themselves. The Las Vegas strip will always have a stranglehold on out of town tourists, but strip casinos still face competition from downtown Las Vegas. I’ve noticed that crowds in downtown Las Vegas becoming denser as the years go by. This prevents the strip casinos from getting out of line, or if they get out of line, they fall back in line (case in point, Wynn Casino, which tried to reduce their craps odds to a pathetic double odds, but only to reverse back to 3,4,5x after gamblers left).
If you go to Las Vegas, be willing to go to downtown Las Vegas and some of the local casinos. You might find that you enjoy the better odds on the games and the more generous comps. But, if you enjoy the proximity of the strip and the party atmosphere, there are casinos where you can find good bargains too. Visit the Cromwell, where they have single 0 roulette and $10 Pai Gow Poker.
There’s lots of gambling in Las Vegas; and not just any gambling, but good gambling where the odds are fair so that you have a realistic chance of leaving with a big win that you can brag to everyone about.
‘IT’ FACTOR #4. IT’S A RELATIVELY SAFE CITY TO HAVE FUN
Despite all the seeming debauchery, Las Vegas is a relatively safe town. You can walk around like a king or a sexy queen, and not be too worried about your safety.
Do you ever notice that despite the tourists with available cash in their pockets, there are relatively few homeless panhandlers on Las Vegas Blvd, Fremont Street, and the casino parking lots? Have you ever been to San Francisco or New York and compared the homeless population to Las Vegas? Considering that Las Vegas is a cash town, with tourists walking around with change and small bills giving out frequent tips, I am surprised there isn’t more panhandling and petty crimes, such as pickpocketing or robberies in Las Vegas.
The reason for the relative safety is because of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, aka Las Vegas Metro. I have a friend who works for Las Vegas Metro, and he talks about pressure from ‘above’ to keep the tourists safe. It’s not a secret that the casinos and tourists are important to the local economy. So the casinos, the local government, and Las Vegas Metro make sure that the source of revenue is protected. In the old days, it was the mob keeping things safe, so that the tourists wouldn’t be scared away; nowadays, it’s Las Vegas Metro. Whether you’re safe because of the mob or because of the cops, the protection is real.
You are like an important celebrity with your own bodyguard, and your safety is paramount to the survival of the city.
If you go to Las Vegas, just stick to the casino and tourist areas, such as Las Vegas Boulevard or Fremont Street (which is the downtown part of Las Vegas). The local casinos are safe, too. Just don’t park off the casino property. Your Las Vegas ‘bodyguards’ won’t follow you if you go off reservation.
At the end of the day, all the danger and debauchery is relatively controlled. Unless you get extremely unlucky or something highly improbable happens, you will arrive home safely. That safety is alluring and sexy and one of the reasons I am willing to continually come back to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is the ‘it’ gambling destination because of these four reasons: 1. lots and lots of fun things to do; 2. drinking in public, where not only is public drinking allowed, but it’s celebrated and casinos help you facilitate your public drinking; 3. awesome gambling deals that give you the best chance at winning a pile of money; 4. and most importantly you can do it all safely.
You cannot find that combination at any other gambling resort destination in the United States. Not in Atlantic City. Definitely not in Reno, or anywhere else. If you were to expand the list beyond the United States, Las Vegas would even beat Macau. Macau is all about baccarat. If you love baccarat, yeah, then Macau is your paradise, but even then, you won’t find the variety and options that you find in Las Vegas.
There’s no place like Las Vegas. Las Vegas has that hard-to-describe ‘it’ factor. That’s why I love Las Vegas and keep coming back.