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Best of Ryan McLane

Gaming Guru

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Top-10 Gambling Destinations

12 October 2007

By Ryan McLane

10.) Connecticut

This rural section of Southern New England isn't exactly a world wonder, but it does contain two major casinos and one dubbed "the wonder of it all." Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are located within 30 minutes of each other. Foxwoods is home to the one of the world's largest poker rooms and Mohegan Sun boasts both world class entertainment and high-end shopping. This area is conveniently situated between the tourist heavy cities of New York City and Boston and is a favorite destination of college-aged gamblers who flood the region annually.

9.) Bahamas

The casinos may not be world famous, but the islands are, hosting beautiful beaches and coveted vacations spots. The Atlantis, located on the appropriately named Paradise Island, is a treasure for both its gambling space and its beach-themed allure. The Westin Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resort in Nassau and the One & Only Ocean Club on Paradise Island are also five-star resorts. The Caribbean gambling age of 18 and the spring break parties running from February to April also make this a gambler's paradise.

8.) Los Angeles

Enough poker action to rival Las Vegas and amazing beaches to boot, the City of Angels is a breeding ground for many of poker's best professional players and a thriving gambling scene. The Bicycle, Commerce, Hollywood Park the Hustler casinos serve as the cities major gambling attractions with more than 30 other casinos located along the beautiful coast all the way to San Diego. These casinos have produced the last two World Series of Poker Main Event winners – Jamie Gold (2006) and Jerry Yang (2007).

6.) France

Although it hurts me to put my natural rival on the list, France is wonderful gambling destination, even though they are one of the many confirmed enemies of online gaming. There are more than 450 casinos in France, according to a Casino City survey. For those who plan to visit the Eiffel Tower, Musee du Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and Cathedrale Notre-Dame (and I recommend you do at some point in your life), stop by the Aviation Club de Paris, one of the world's most famous poker rooms due to its exposure on World Poker Tour broadcasts. It's worth the trip, especially since you get to go all-in with those heavy plates worth as much as a large stack of poker chips.

6.) Mississippi

Even the torrent winds of Hurricane Katrina couldn't dampen the immense gambling spirit of the Mississippi River area. Harrah's New Orleans, one of the largest employers in beleaguered city pre and post Hurricane, re-opened its doors to much fanfare in early 2006 and was considered one of the major signs that the city would survive one of its largest tragedies. Casinos line the Mississippi River coast from Louisiana to Canada. The unofficial birthplace of American gambling is still and exciting place to experience the old river boat frontier in a now corporate casino heavy United States.

5.) Australia

Home to more than 400 casinos and racetracks, Australia boasts one of the best gambling scenes worldwide with many famous gamblers coming from the land of down under. Sydney, a premier vacation destination in its own right, is home to the Crown Casino and the Star City Casino, both excellent establishments for the general gambler or the poker player. Annually, the Crown Casino plays host to the Aussie Millions, a multi-million dollar series of tournaments with some of the largest buy-ins on the planet. 2005 WSOP Main Event Champion Joe Hachem hails from this country as does Casino City's favorite poker player, Tony G.

4.) Cruise ships

There are many things to do while vacationing on the high seas, but for the gambling types, international waters mean only one thing – time to gamble. Whether touring the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean of the coasts of the Pacific, cruise ships feature some of the best gambling action including many boats with the up and coming Pokertek tables, the highly touted electronic poker tables threatening to take the world by storm. If you're the gambling type but can't convince your significant other that gambling should be the focal point of the annual vacation, compromise with a cruise and then ask the famous question…well since we're stuck on the ship…

3.) Atlantic City

The poker movie classic Rounders dubbed Atlantic City "the office" of most major professional poker players. Johnny Chan, Erik Seidel and Phil Ivey all made their millions and their marks playing cards at the Taj Mahal and the Borgata. The world's major gambling brands (Harrah's, Wynn, Bellagio, Sands) all have a large, expanding presence in Atlantic City. If you couple the casino action with the boardwalk, beaches and never-ending-big-name entertainment, you have the perfect recipe for a gambler's dream destination.

2.) Macau

The new Las Vegas is quickly becoming bigger than the most famous of gambling destinations. This summer marked the opening of the Venetian Macau, the largest casino in the world by far. With a gambling space bigger than four American football fields, the Venetian Macau is the ultimate sign of growth in a gambling city that is growing by the day. All the major gambling brands have plans for five-star hotel and casinos in this Southern China region and gambling receipts for 2006 were higher than those from Las Vegas, according to some reports.

1.) Las Vegas

Although Macau is quickly becoming the world's first choice for gambling, there is nothing like the original. The slogan "what happens in Vegas, stay in Vegas," revitalized a sagging tourism industry and made Las Vegas one of the fastest growing cities in America. With mega-casino resorts like the Bellagio, the Wynn, the Sands, Mandalay Bay and dozens of others, Las Vegas has a hotel room and gambling chair for everyone. Surprisingly family friendly, Las Vegas can host whatever entourage you bring – whether it be the wife and kids or your rowdy bachelorette party.

Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.