Betting, wining and dining in a glitzy casino used to be activities reserved exclusively for trips to Las Vegas or international cruises. But the last two decades have brought a proliferation of legalized gaming in places you might not expect—the traditionally conservative Greater Cincinnati area is among them.
Since 1996, five casinos and one racino have opened within a 45-minute drive of the urban core. The latest addition, the Horseshoe Casino, which opened in March 2013, has made a splash among local seniors
Many older Cincinnatians enjoy the occasional casino trip not for the gambling, but for the side amenities. The modern-day casino isn’t a dimly lit hotel backroom filled with noisy slot machines and grim-faced chain-smokers. It’s a full entertainment complex with posh rooms, state-of-the-art machines, clean, well-lit gaming floors, gourmet restaurants and large event spaces.
If you take a trip to the Horseshoe, here’s your guide to what you’ll find there.
The Horseshoe features five eateries, from upscale sit-down, to grab and go style bites that will let you get back to the tables or down to the show.
Jack Binion’s Steak
Named for the Horseshoe’s founder, this upscale steakhouse takes fine dining seriously. The menu is pricy, from the $9 Golden Beet and Feta Salad, to the $125 Premium Shellfish Platter, if you’re in the mood for a high “steaks” round, Binion’s is your answer.
For gamers who want to reserve more money for the blackjack or poker tables, or for friends out on the town looking for a night of gluttonous abandon, the all-you-can-eat buffet is your go-to spot. Patrons will find a gigantic smorgasbord, varied cuisine stations and even themed nights.
Make sure you check out the local culinary legacy at Rhineland section— named after the historically German Cincinnati neighborhood that the Horseshoe abuts— and the Marketplace which teams with local food vendors, in the spirit of nearby Findlay Market, to offer farm fresh and locally sourced items.
Bobby’s Burger Palace
If casual dining is your speed, stop in the Bobby’s Burger Palace — celebrity chef and cookbook author Bobby Flay’s 14th location offering gourmet burgers and scaled-up American fare.
As any local can tell you, Cincinnati is a Parrothead hotbed (a term coined at a 1985 concert at our Timberwolf Amphitheater) and Jimmy Buffett’s annual Riverbend concerts are perpetually sold out. If you miss him this year, you can still stop down to the Horseshoe and get your Cheeseburger in Paradise at his Margaritaville restaurant.
If you don’t have the time for a traditional sit down meal, Café Italia offers quick service of Italian favorites like authentic New York-style pizza and regional favorites
The newest large concert venue in the area, the casino’s The Shoe theater has been amazing Cincinnati audiences with A-list headliners and outstanding production quality. The acts booked there span the range of interests, from punk and hip-hop shows for the younger generation, to classic rock acts like Frampton, the Doobie Brothers and country musicians like Willie Nelson, who area Baby Boomers come out in droves to see.
Of course, most people who go to a casino want to lay down a few bets, and the Horseshoe has all the games that will get your heart thumping and raise your excitement level.
For poker fans, the floor features many variants, from Video Poker to Texas Hold’Em. The casino’s new 31-table World Series of Poker Room will even be a June stop on the 2014 tournament circuit.
The casino has over 2,000 slot machines, with penny-ante variants to a high stakes $500 type. And with the venue’s Total Touch function, gamers in the zone can order a drink right from their machines!
If you have a not-so-secret desire to play James Bond, your place might be at the Baccarat table. You won’t find international intrigue and mystery there (or will you?), but you might come away with some big winnings if luck is on your side.
Blackjack continues to be a staple of the gaming floor. Its simple rules and easy play make it the first stop for many inexperienced players— and for serious gamblers.
If you’re in the mood to let it all ride on chance, you’ll find craps tables and roulette wheels, where you can throw caution to the wind.
With a little bit of planning, the occasional casino trip with friends can put some vim and verve into your senior lifestyle. Gambling isn’t something one wants to become a problem, of course, so leave your credit card at home and go with a set amount of cash you can afford to lose.
If you assume you won’t come out ahead, and focus instead on the thrills and the sights, a night spent Sinatra-style can be a golden experience.