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Top-10 spring break gambling destinations

7 March 2011

Spring break. It's as American as baseball and apple pie. Every year around this time, thousands upon thousands of students decide to take a week off from drinking and partying at college to drink and party on the beach or at the pool. But what happens if you want to gamble while you're drinking and partying? Considering I'm the only member of the Casino City editorial team who wouldn't be the creepy old guy at any of these destinations, here are my top-10 trips for the spring break gambler:

10. San Diego

San Diego is one of the truly great cities in the United States. The weather is gorgeous. There are bars aplenty with fantastic beaches just a stone's throw away. And, for the gambler, there are a number of casinos nearby, including the Viejas Casino in Alpine.

9. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular spring break spot for those who want to experience more than wet T-shirt contests and booze cruises. There is great surfing on the coasts and some amazing rainforests in between the coasts. If you're still itching to play blackjack, however, you are in luck. According to Casino City, there are 38 casinos in this Central American country.

8. Biloxi

This Mississippi destination has been hit hard the last few years, with Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and the Gulf oil spill in 2010 having a major negative economic impact on the region. However, if you believe the BP commercials, people are starting to come back to the area. Biloxi has a number of high-end casinos, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi and the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. It is well-known for hosting Black Spring Break, where students at historically black universities and colleges in the South converge for one week.

7. Punta Cana

Punta Cana is a Dominican resort area famous for its all-inclusive properties. According to the Casino City database, this destination has nine casinos, including the newly-opened Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana, which has 457 gaming machines and 40 table games.

6. Caribbean cruise

The great thing about Caribbean cruises, especially for Americans, is that once you reach international waters, the games can begin. Many cruise ships have a casino area on board for people who want to try their luck in between tanning on the sun deck and gorging at the buffet. When I went on spring break in the Bahamas a few years ago, many of my friends had a lot less spending money after rough stretches at the blackjack and craps tables on the three-hour cruise from Florida to Freeport.

5. South Florida

For college students without passports or the funds to travel abroad, Florida is a popular spring break destination. Daytona Beach and Panama City are the two most well-known spots in the Sunshine State for spring break revelers. Unfortunately, there are no casinos within a reasonable distance at these two spots. If you want to go gambling, head to the Miami area. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, which now has around-the-clock poker, is right up the road on the Florida Turnpike.

4. The Bahamas

In terms of world-class resort destinations, it doesn't get much better than the Atlantis at Paradise Island Resort and Casino. The casino is 50,000 square feet and features 862 gaming machines and 91 table games. There are 22 restaurants on the premises. The Bahamian dollar is also pegged to the U.S. dollar on a one-to-one basis, so there is no need for Americans to worry about exchange rates.

3. New Orleans

Mardi Gras kicks off in New Orleans tomorrow so it might be a little late for Casino City readers to book a reasonable room for this year's celebration. But Mardi Gras is a must-visit for those who enjoy debauchery and no open-container laws. And if you have a gambling itch? Just head to Harrah's New Orleans Casino. It's open 24 hours and offers 123 table and poker games.

2. Las Vegas (Hard Rock)

Not surprisingly, the top-two gambling destinations for the spring breaker are in Las Vegas. Coming in at No. 2 is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Hard Rock is only destination on our list that has had a reality TV show based on its pool resort. Rehab is the most well-known pool party destination in Las Vegas, if not the world. People line up for hours every weekend for the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, among other celebrities. However, this fantastic destination doesn't open until April, so unless you have a late spring break you are out of luck. However, you can always go down the road and check out our number one spot...

1. Las Vegas (The Palms)

The Palms Casino Resort. The off-Strip hotel and casino is hosting MTV's Spring Break broadcast this year and is known for catering to the younger crowd. Of course, you have to be over 21 to enjoy the festivities, but there should be plenty of eye candy for those who make it. The Palms has one of the better sportsbooks in Las Vegas, and with March Madness usually occurring right around spring break time, there are a ton of ways to keep the action going away from the pool. And, if you're lucky, maybe you'll run into Charlie Sheen at the Playboy Club.
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