Planning a visit to downtown Chicago and looking for some gaming action? Welcome to the Chicago gamer’s guide to finding the closest and best casinos to play at.
It may appear odd, however there is no casino located in downtown Chicago. Yes, you would think that one of the largest cities in the US would have one, but it doesn’t. To make it more intriguing, riverboat casinos are permitted in the state of Illinois just not in the heart of Chicago.
State laws banned the establishment of casinos in Chicago city, however this may change in the near future, as there is discussion among politicians of expanding gaming. The proposed expanded gaming would allow the establishment of a mega casino to open in Chicago which would include sports betting.
But for the time being, there is no Chicago downtown casino and you will need to venture outside of the city.
The options are therefore visiting casinos in the broader state of Illinois or crossing to Indiana. What you may not be aware of, is that the laws between Illinois and Indiana have different gaming laws.
The differences are as follows to help with your decision making of either staying within Illinois or crossing to Indiana.
- Opening hours: Indiana casinos are permitted to operate 24 hours 7 days a week, whist casinos in Illinois must close for 2 hours every 24 hours.
- Sports betting: Legal but yet to be operational in Illinois, Sports betting is in full swing in Indiana. So you will need to travel to an Indiana casino if you want to place a sports bet.
- Size: Indiana casinos are relatively larger in size, whilst Illinois casinos are permitted to hold slot machines of up to 1,200. You will therefore find, in general, casinos in Illinois won’t offer that mega Vegas glamour, but rather more of a personal, sophisticated touch.
Putting aside the above three differences, the states remain the same for minimum age at 21, do not permit free alcoholic beverages, and are “non smoking”.
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Casino 1. The biggest and the best
777 Casino Center Dr, Hammond, IN 46320
Horseshoe Hammond Casino is the number one casino to travel to if you reside in Chicago downtown. Whilst you do need to cross the border to Indiana, it is in fact only 17 miles away or a short 20 to 30 minute drive. And given it’s close proximity it is therefore one of the two closest casinos, alongside Rivers Casino in Des Plaines which is also 17 miles away.
But it’s not just the proximity which makes this casino great. The casino floor is a whopping 300,000 sq ft, dwarfing the size of all other nearby casinos. It has all the gaming action you could think of, slots, table games and poker.
There are over 3000 slot and video game machines. Over 700 of them are contemporary, with the ability to order drinks directly from the machine. They have progressive, interlinked, and thousands of penny slots. You could literally get lost among the maze of slot machines.
The poker room is the stand out. 38 tables of high action poker, and is part of the WSOP tournament. This really is the deluxe poker room for poker players.
As a new addition, the sports center is now open. Showing all the big national sport games with sports book facilities. Stay up to date with the latest odds, placing a bet and enjoying the drama of sport at its best. Nothing beats wagering on your favorite team to win, at the same time watching them play.
Naturally together with gaming, Horseshoe Hammond offers the best in fine dining and entertainment. You will find a diverse range of cuisine, dining venues, live music and performances.
The Horseshoe Hammond is without doubt the best casino to play at when residing in downtown Chicago.
Casino 2. A local favorite
Rivers Casino Des Plaines
3000 S River Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Coming in at number 2, is the awesome Rivers Casino. Also only 17 miles from downtown Chicago, it is one of the two closest casinos in proximity.
Although not as large as Horseshoe Hammond at half the size – 140,000 sq ft, this casino still offers that great gaming experience. Not over the top, like Vegas, but with that more personal touch. You really can’t beat the picturesque view when on this “riverboat”.
Although one would think a riverboat would be able to set sail and float on water, the design of Rivers Casino has been built purposely on a bed of water that is only inches thick. This design was solely to meet the letter of the law of gambling permitted on riverboats only.
There are over 1000 slot and video games, a good mix of table games (over 50 types) but unfortunately no poker room.
Also unavailable is sports betting. Sports betting is legal but remains unoperational. This point of difference should strongly be considered if you are a sports betting enthusiast. Head to Indiana to place a sports bet.
Casino 3. Just a bit further across the border
Ameristar Casino Hotel
777 Aldis Ave, East Chicago, IN 46312
To round out the top 3, we have the fabulous Ameristar Casino cum Hotel. Not as close as Horseshoe Hammond and River Casino with an additional 10 minute drive, you will need to cross the border and venture into Indiana. Having said that, this is a nice little casino that is comparable in size to Rivers but not quite that of Horseshoe.
There are over 1,700 slots with over 72 types of table games, plus a fantastic sports book. Unfortunately no poker room, so head over to the Horsehsoe if you are wanting poker action.
Casino 4. Another Indiana classic
Majestic Star Casino
1 Buffington Harbor Dr, Gary, IN 46406
Number four is the Majestic, a casino also in comparable size of Ameristar which is located in Indiana. Again just that little bit further to travel than the top 3. The Majestic is very near the Ameristar and is therefore a 40 minute drive from downtown Chicago.
This casino offers over 1500 slot and video game machines, a huge variety of table games and a poker room. There is no sports betting book.
Casino 5. Back in Illinois in the countryside
Hollywood Casino Joliet
777 Hollywood Blvd, Joliet, IL 60436
A nice little casino towards the south west of downtown Chicago. Part of the Hollywood franchise, you are guaranteed some quality action. Approximately 45 min drive, it’s quite easy to get to driving through rolling hills and small towns in the countryside.
Casino 6. Smallest but still enjoyable
100 East Front Street Metropolis, IL
Last of the best six casinos near Chicago is Harrah’s. This too is one of the most famous casino chains in the US and just like Hollywood Joliet is situated approximately 50 minute drive to the south west of downtown Chicago.
There are over 1000 slots and various table games. The staff are extremely warm and welcoming.