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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Casino resorts worth a gamble

Courtesy Lake Charles/SW La. CVB

As more states hitch their economic hopes to gaming, the uptick in the number of casino resorts will give meeting planners more choices in meeting venues.

Some states, especially in the Northeast, have plans to expand gaming. New Jersey is pondering whether to expand gaming into the state, beyond Atlantic City. Early this month, New York voters will decide whether the state will allow seven Las Vegas-style casinos to be built in the state, at least four of them in upstate areas.

The possibility of those new developments is making at least one casino nervous. The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pa., in October told officials that it must add amenities to stay ahead of the possible new casinos in New York and New Jersey. Officials have said that in addition to expanding the Sands’ table games, it might add a convention center, a second hotel and a Bass Pro Shops.

In Springfield, Mass., voters have approved a $16 million MGM Springfield casino resort that would sit near downtown and include a hotel, a casino, a shopping center and a cineplex.
At the same time, several new casino resorts are on the verge of opening and a number of existing resorts have made additions and upgrades that add to their appeal for meetings and conventions.

Among the new developments is a whopper in southwest Louisiana. Developers say that the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, under construction on 242 acres in Lake Charles, will open next year. Lake Charles is already a major gaming destination, home of the L’Auberge Casino Resort, the Delta Downs Casino and Hotel and the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel.

The L’Auberge will be the Golden Nugget’s next-door neighbor. The Golden Nugget’s hotel will have 715 rooms and suites, retail shopping, a spa and restaurants, among them Landry’s Seafood, Vic and Anthony’s Steakhouse and Grotto Italian Ristorante. The hotel will have its own meeting space as well.

The casino floor will be dominated by 1,600 of the newest line of slot machines, 60 table games and a poker room.

Also under way, with an opening planned next summer, is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City. The project is in downtown Sioux City, Iowa, and it incorporates and preserves a historic building.

The Hard Rock will have a 54-room hotel, a casino, an 800-person entertainment venue, an outdoor lawn for festivals, multiple restaurants and bars and a Hard Rock retail store.

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. — For its first 20 years, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel was “dry,” meaning no alcohol was served on property.

That changed in August 2012 when the casino, 25 minutes southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul, began serving drinks in its restaurants. A year later, it opened three bars on the casino floor.

Guests can have drinks at Drinx Bar, with live music each weekend; the Lobby Lounge, between the hotel lobby and Mystic Steakhouse; and the Promenade Bar,  featuring Minnesota craft beers.

In addition to its gaming floor, Mystic Lake has a 600-room luxury hotel, more than 67,000 square feet of meeting space, a 2,100-seat showroom, seven restaurants and a championship golf course.