Recommended Casinos in North America & Caribbean

WinStar World Casino & Resort

Thackerville, United States

Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino

Las Vegas, United States

MGM Grand Resort Casino

Las Vegas, United States

Bellagio Las Vegas

Las Vegas, United States

Aces Lounge

Brooks, Canada

Aseneskak Casino

The Pas, Canada

Ace's Casino Entertainment

Spokane, United States

Ada Gaming Center

Ada, United States

History of Casinos in North America

Games of chance were introduced to North America by early British settlers. The general attitude toward gambling greatly varied from one community to another but there was not much restriction at the time. The most popular game was lottery since it was also used as a way of raising money for various causes. Gambling as a business slowly began to develop and soon areas such as New Orleans, Mississippi and California had commercial gambling ventures. The early 20th century was characterized by the prohibition of alcohol and gambling was also outlawed. After the 1929 stock market crash, gambling was legalized in Nevada which became a hotbed for the establishment of casinos. Other areas followed suit and soon there were casinos in places such as Atlantic City, Southern Maryland, Louisiana as well as several native Indian reservations. During the 90’s, Illinois and Louisiana legalized Riverboat Casinos which was a whole new concept of floating casinos. Many cities in the US, Mexico and Canada now have a thriving casino industry that generates immense revenue and provides employment opportunities. Unlike the colonial and prohibition days when gambling was not highly regarded, today, casinos are respectable establishments that contribute to the economic growth of the countries where they are situated.  

Casino Hot Spots in North America

At the moment, there are close to 2000 commercial casinos spread out across North America. These gaming establishments in the US, Canada and Mexico generate about $30 billion annually. The main cities associated with casinos and other gaming establishment in the United States are Las Vegas, Nevada, Reno, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. These cities receive millions of domestic and international tourists each year and many of them are mainly attracted by the gambling opportunities available. Other popular casino destinations in the United States include Biloxi, Mississippi Gulf Coast, and plenty of Indian reservations spread across the region.

Canada also has a vibrant casino and gambling scene and visitors to Canadian casinos can definitely enjoy a great experience. Canada has close to 200 established brick-and-mortar casinos with lots of games and activities for customers. Most of the gambling casinos are top-notch establishments that feature popular games such as slots, table games as well as horseracing, greyhound races and many other forms of betting. Ontario has the largest concentration of casinos in Canada and these include impressive establishments such as Niagara Fallsview Casino resort and Casino Niagara. Alberta is another great destination for gamblers with areas such as Calgary experiencing a growing casino scene. Nova Scotia is yet another popular location within the borders of Canada where gambling enthusiasts can have a good time. Areas such as Yukon Territory and Dawson City offer great establishments where you can enjoy games like Slots, Poker, Roulette, Baccarat and many more.

Legal gambling had been banned for a long time in Mexico before 1947, however, the restrictive laws have since eased and now the country is opening up to the growth of the casino industry. Mexico is actually ranked as the fourth best location for international gamblers in the world. Gambling in Mexico is synonymous with holiday goers because many casinos and alternative gambling establishments are located within holiday resorts. The industry is growing at a respectable rate with new gambling establishments are opening up in many locations; some costing upwards of $500 million to build. Several of the biggest casino brands in America such as MGM Mirage, Harrah’s Entertainment and Park Place Entertainment have all shown interest in exploring the growing Mexican market. The highest concentration of casinos and sports betting parlors can be found in Tijuana which borders the United States. Another popular gambling hotspot in Mexico is Baja California.

Apart from conventional casino games, other popular gambling activities in Mexico include horse racing and dog races. Pari-Mutuel betting activities are also gaining ground especially for lotteries, horseracing, greyhound racing, and sports betting. 

Another gambling destination that awakens the entertainment life of North America is Panama. After the authorization of casinos in 1997, the country has seen several land-based venues join the industry attracting both local and international players. The country boasts of more than 17 first-class casinos which have bars, restaurants, and hotels attached to them. Many of the land-based casinos are located in Panama City and are operated by private players as well as government agencies.

Most of the casinos in Panama are plush looking and are set in a beautiful ambiance which is considered the best for gambling activities. The number of games provided by each casino differs from one to the next, but all of them offer favorite games such as slot machines, Blackjack, Baccarat and Texas Poker. The country also has horse tracks for racino lovers.

 The casino industry has been generating massive revenues for many years and is highly regarded in North American countries. For instance, in 2014, the United States had overall gambling revenues in excess of $60 billion. A large proportion of these revenues were generated from land-based casinos. Despite the fact that online casino gaming is gaining popularity, the conventional brick-and-mortar casinos are still very viable. North America is currently the region with the most casinos than any other place in the world.

Legal Aspects of Casinos and Gambling Activities

Gambling is considered a legal activity under US federal law; however, there are some restrictions that pertain to interstate as well as online gambling. All states have the right to regulate and/or prohibit gambling activities within their jurisdiction. Currently, almost all states allow some form of gambling. Some restrict it to just state-run lotteries since Casino-based gambling is not yet quite widespread. Federal law gives significant leeway for casinos to be set up on Native American Trust Land. This is attributed to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which was agreed upon and established in 1988. The only states that have legal state-wide casino gambling are Louisiana and Nevada. Several other states permit casino gambling in certain geographical locations with strict zoning and licensing policies. The legal gambling age in the US varies from one state to another. In some states, it is 18 years while in others it is set at 21 years. In other cases, it depends on the specific game being played.

Canada has solid laws and regulations relating to land-based gambling. The only forms of legalized betting that existed in Canada before 1969 were horseraces and fun fair lotteries. In 1969 the federal government permitted 10 different provinces to hold their own lotteries. In 1985 regulation of gambling was transferred from the federal government to provincial governments while changing the criminal code relating to what people can or cannot gamble on. This actually paved the way for the emergence of land-based casinos. In Canada, the legal age limit to enter a casino is 19 years. This age requirement applies to all regions except Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta where the legal age limit is 18 years.

In Mexico, gambling has been legal since 1947 and this was facilitated by the enactment of the Federal Games and Draws Law that was officially gazetted in 1947 and was to take effect in 1948. In 2014, a motion was passed to begin the process of modernizing the gambling laws which have largely remained unchanged since 1947. While awaiting legislative changes to the gambling laws, legal gambling establishments still remain under strict regulation and restrictions. The gambling industry is largely considered a tourist attraction and several regulations have actually been put in place to protect locals. Legal gambling age in Mexico is 18 years which is also the legal drinking age.    

Other Amenities

Many of the casinos in the North American region are not standalone businesses but rather a section of a larger establishment. The USA, Canada, and Mexico have a high number of resort-style casinos which offer full holiday packages for visitors. The casino experience is usually part of an exciting holiday offer. Many of the casinos include on-site accommodation, eateries, shopping outlets, live shows, as well as picturesque locations. The casinos may also be strategically located near tourist attractions such as the Niagara Falls, the Atlantic City boardwalk or the sun-soaked beaches of Cancun.

Some casino resorts have actually built such big brands that they are world renowned. For instance, The MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel and Casino hosts major events, making it a must-visit location in Las Vegas.

The resort experience offered by land-based casinos in North American is a value addition aspect that keeps them relevant in a world where online casino gaming is growing. The additional amenities make land-based casinos a novelty that cannot completely be eclipsed by online casinos. Conventional casinos also offer customers a chance to interact physically and meet new people. 

The Future

As much as it seems like online casinos are taking over, the truth is that there are still plenty of opportunities for land-based casinos to thrive. Visiting a casino offers more than just the access to casino games. You can have a bite to eat, have some drinks, and probably attend a concert after gambling. Being a tourist you could also enjoy great accommodation in the same vicinity. Since the number of land-based casinos is still limited, there is a demand for new establishments across North America. Markets like Canada and Mexico are growing and could do with significant investment in the gambling sector. Governments are greatly benefiting from the revenues generated by casinos and this may lead to better legislation that will help the industry grow. For instance, Mexico is in the process of upgrading its gaming legislation in order to make it easier for investors to establish and market their casinos as tourist attractions. In the long run, the growth of the sector is also expected to provide employment opportunities which will have a positive effect on the overall economies of North American countries.