When it comes to casinos, Florida is no Las Vegas. The Seminole tribe, owners of six casinos across the state, and Disney, owners of, well, everything, have been doing their damnedest to make sure of that. Both pumped millions into an anti-casino campaign in 2018 in an effort to keep away the competition. But there are still plenty of good options for those looking to scratch their gambling itch. You just need to keep up with which casino offers what so that you (and your lungs) know what you’re walking into.
Here is our list of the nine best casinos in South Florida. Good luck!
Hurricane Irma left the Mardi Gras Casino in shambles in 2017, literally tearing the roof off of the place. And that’s when Fontainebleau Miami Beach owner Jeffrey Soffer stepped in to purchase the casino. Under his ownership, the venue was remodeled and renamed the Big Easy Casino. Here you’ll find over 700 slots and what Big Easy claims is the largest number of video poker games in Florida. Need a smoke while you play? The outdoor patio for smokers, billed the Dog Pound, features 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 at Dania Beach
Photo by Miami in Focus
You should catch jai-alai in person at least once in your life, whether you know what a cesta is or not. And there might not be a better place to watch a bunch of dudes whip the ball at over 200 miles per hour than at this Dania Beach casino, which has been hosting jai alai for over 60 years. Jai alai doesn’t command anywhere close to the number of spectators that it did in its heyday, but the sport still has a following at the Casino, where the 500-seat court was renovated not too long ago. It doesn’t hurt that you can put a little action on the competition either. Prefer to try your luck on a game you actually understand? The smoke-free casino has over 750 slots and a 24-table card room. Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Friday through Sunday 24 hours.
Racers at Gulfstream Park.
Michele Eve Sandberg
Looking for somewhere to play the ponies? Gulfstream offers live racing year-round except in October and November on its charming horse track, complete with a pond in the center. The kiddies will love gawking at the horses up close from the paddock and then watching them haul ass around the track. Both adults and kids alike will dig the 110-foot bronze Pegasus towering over the entrance, which is said to be the second-tallest statue in the continental U.S. (Number one is the Statue of Liberty.) Admission to the track and parking is free, so there are two fewer costs to worry about when you’re getting shellacked at the track or Gulfstream’s two-floor casino. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hialeah Park & Casino
One of South Florida’s most storied gambling venues, Hialeah Park opened to the public in 1922, then named the Miami Kennel Club. Back then, the spot was little more than a greyhound racing track. Now, after a huge renovation, the site offers electronic roulette and blackjack, and over 800 slot machines. A poker room on its second floor draws players from across the region to regularly scheduled tournaments. And horses have replaced the greyhounds at the venue, with seasonal races on-site and year-round races simulcast on screens in its Champions Sports Bar. Fun fact: Hialeah Park is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and as an Audubon Bird Sanctuary, the latter thanks to the colony of flamingos living on the infield of its racetrack. 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday to Thursday, open 24 hours a day Friday to Sunday.
Isle Casino Pompano Park
777 Isle of Capri Circle, Pompano Beach
There’s been talk of a massive expansion at Pompano Park beginning in 2020 that would include a crystal lake and entertainment district and take place over at least ten years. Until then, visitors can still enjoy live horse racing ten months out of the year, a 40-plus table poker room and nearly 1,500 slot machines at this smoke-free “racino” (race track + casino = racino). And don’t forget to stuff your face with shrimp and crab legs at Farmer’s Pick Buffet’s enjoyable seafood buffet. Pigging out at a casino buffet is a time-honored casino tradition. Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.; Friday through Sunday 24 hours.
Magic City Casino
Photo by Craig Denis Creative
This Miami casino is more than just the setting of the dirty dancing elderly couple video, which went viral in 2017. Magic City offers 800 slot machines and boasts that it pays more jackpots than any other casino in Miami. And in 2018, it replaced greyhound racing (Floridians voted to ban commercial greyhound racing by the end of 2020) with live jai-alai. As documented in Billy Corben’s Magic City Hustle documentary, the non-smoking casino converted former athletes from The U into Magic City jai alai players. For something completely out of the norm, check out the casino’s kitschy Burger Museum, run by local blogger Burger Beast. Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 to 5 a.m.
If you’ve never ventured farther west than Tamiami, you’ve probably never encountered Miccosukee Resort and its casino. You’re also definitely missing out. Here, players have their choice of 2,000 machines, ranging from brand-new releases to classic slots. But if you want to go really old school, head to the Bingo Hall, a resort institution dating to 1990. And hey, if you win big (or you just throw back a few too many at the martini bar), you can celebrate by crashing at the resort for the night. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
5550 NW 40th St., Coconut Creek
No need to hit up a machine to get your blackjack fix. Like Seminole Hard Rock, 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 percentage of the revenue.) But if you prefer a little man vs. machine action, the smoke-heavy Coconut Creek, which has a non-smoking second floor, offers 2,000 slots, including The Walking Dead 2, Monopoly Hot Shot and Wonder Woman Wild. Should lady luck be on your side, treat yourself to the New York Yankees-themed high-end steakhouse, NYY Steak. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Photo by Daniel Newcomb
Look for the 450-foot guitar-shaped hotel — not that you can miss it from the turnpike or just about anywhere else within a couple of miles. The gnarly guitar tower is part of the Hollywood hotel and casino’s $1.5 billion renovation, which is scheduled to be completed this fall and is said to include 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, fine dining Japanese restaurant Kuro and a 4.5-acre lagoon-style pool. Plus, the place is a part of morbid pop culture history. Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental prescription drug overdose on the property in 2007. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.