When the gaming bug bites, but Vegas isn’t in your plans, the Grand Canyon state offers plenty of options. Our list of 10 casinos gives you several in-town choices only requiring a quick drive across town, plus a few options a short drive north or south of the Valley, a welcome change in scenery and temperature when the summer heat hits. We bet you’ll find friendly dealers, spacious overnight accommodations, upscale dining, pools, Jacuzzis and plenty of gambling fun from slots to table games, bingo and keno no matter what casino you choose from our list.
Talking Stick Resort
The 15-story resort is impossible to miss from the Loop 101. Guests receive a lineup of activities when they check in, featuring dining, lounge hours, entertainment, specials, casino happenings, upcoming events and a little history. The rooms are gorgeous. The decor, linens and beds are modern and on par with upscale Scottsdale resorts. Ask for a room facing the McDowell Mountains and pool and throw open the wood shutters for stunning views. The bathroom is large enough to host a small happy hour and features generously sized toiletries. The pool area is large and includes a shallow lounge pool and hot tub. Gamblers can sample more than 50 table games, 800 slot machines and the poker room. There’s fine dining at Orange Sky; other choices include Wandering Horse Buffet, Blue Coyote Cafe and more. There are 11 bars and lounges as well.
Details: 9800 E. Indian Bend Road, Salt River Reservation, 866-877-9897, www.talkingstickresort.com.
Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort
This property, which opened in 2013, is the Navajo Nation’s first casino in Arizona. The gaming room has many of the newest slot machines and doesn’t feel cramped or too smoky. Hotel rooms are first-class, with flat-screen TVs, terrycloth bathrobes, Keurig coffee machines and deluxe bath amenities. The bed had a pillow-top mattress and plush comforter and pillows. There was a mini fridge and two complimentary bottles of water. Dining includes the upscale Zenith Steakhouse, Arrows Sports Bar, Grand Falls Buffet and Four Elements Cafe.
Details: 20 miles east of Flagstaff at Exit 219 on Interstate 40, 855-946-8946, www.twinarrows.com.
Vee Quiva Hotel and Casino
The new venue has an open and airy gambling floor. Eighteen large LED light panels hang from the ceiling, allowing color and theme changes. Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired designs and lighting add to the atmosphere. Gaming tables are wider and shaped so dealers are closer to players for a more intimate experience. The focal point of the casino is the Square Bar, which sits on platform overlooking the tables and slot machines. There’s a 90-room boutique hotel with 55-inch TVs plus a large entertainment venue to attract national acts. Dining includes Ditka’s Restaurant, Fatburger, Dunkin Donuts and others.
Details: 15091 S. Komatke Lane, Gila River Reservation (near Laveen), 800-946-4452, www.wingilariver.com/vee-quiva.
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
Of all the casino hotels in metro Phoenix, Wild Horse Pass feels the most like Las Vegas, right down to the trendy nightclub, Chrome, and the Ovations Showroom that attracts national acts. A walkway around the casino’s perimeter is ringed with restaurants, including Ling & Louie’s, a cafe and a food court that includes Fatburger. There’s a nice bar in the center of the casino, with several televisions broadcasting sporting events. You never feel crowded, and there’s little smoke smell unless the player next to you lights up. Hotel rooms are modern, with flat-screen televisions and pillow-top mattresses. Some rooms have balconies and overlook the pool. One plus: You don’t have to walk through the casino to get to your room. The deck of the heated pool is a good size for sunbathing. Cabanas are available for rent.
Details: 5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Gila River Reservation, 800-946-4452, www.wingilariver.com/wild-horse-pass.
Editor’s Note: Click on the arrow next to the title on the top left corner of the map to select which casinos display.
We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center
This 248-room resort has been open since late 2005. It has a lodge feel, with dark wood and stone accents. Select rooms have Sleep Number beds, but the bathroom was unremarkable and somewhat small. The hotel is non-smoking. The pool area is large and popular. The casino is not as large or modern as some of the newer local casinos. There are 775 slot machines, bingo, keno and a poker room with no-limit tournaments twice daily. Ahnala restaurant serves southwestern dishes. There’s also a poolside bar and cafe.
Details: 10438 N. Fort McDowell Road, Fort McDowell Reservation, 480-789-5300, wekoparesortandconferencecenter.com.
This 300-room hotel opened near Maricopa with 148 rooms in 1994 and has long catered to the senior-citizen market. Many guests stay for free based on previous gambling outlays here and at other Harrah’s casinos. There is so much demand that Harrah’s added 152 hotel rooms recently. The pool has a popular, shaded swim-up bar. The casino features table games, keno, bingo, a poker room and more than 1,000 slot machines. Dining options include a buffet, the upscale Range Steakhouse, the casual Agave’s Restaurant and more. The Lounge features live music.
Details: 15406 Maricopa Road, Ak-Chin Reservation, 480-802-5000, harrahsakchin.com.
Casino del Sol
Rooms are stylish and spacious, with flat-screen TVs and, in certain rooms, dreamy Serta Presidential mattresses custom-made for the hotel. Dining options include PY Steakhouse, Tequila Factory, Festa Buffet and others. The pool area is classy, with burnt-orange lounge chairs and cabanas, a bar, palm trees, fountains, nice mountain views and a half-hourly water show set to music starting at sunset. The casino, which opened 10 years before the resort, has a confusing layout, with several gambling nooks and crannies. Several restaurants ring the main floor. There is a mix of more than 1,300 table games and slot machines.
Details: 5655 W. Valencia Road, southwest of Tucson, 855-765-7829, casinodelsol.com.
Lone Butte Casino
This property doesn’t have a hotel, but it does have 24 table games with limits of $5 to $1,200, including blackjack, poker and more; more than 800 slot machines; and a 750-seat bingo hall. Dining options include Cities Bar & Grille as well as American Bandstand, Panda Express, Broadway Deli and more. There are several bars, and live entertainment is presented in Cascades Lounge and the event center.
Details: 1077 S. Kyrene Road, Gila River Reservation, 800-946-4452, www.wingilariver.com/lone-butte.
Cliff Castle Casino Hotel
At this location in the Verde Valley, around-the-clock gambling includes slots, blackjack and poker. Restaurants range from the upscale Storytellers steakhouse to the more casual Three Sisters Market, Eleventh Frame and Mountain Springs Buffet. Kids and non-gamblers will like the Cosmic Bowling at Shake, Rattle and Bowl and the video games in Orbits Arcade. There’s also the Kids Quest child-care area. Local and national performers take the stage at the indoor Dragonfly Nightclub and the outdoor Stargazer Pavilion. A round-the-clock shuttle is provided for those staying at the hotel, which is down the hill from the casino.
Details: 555 W. Middle Verde Road, Yavapai-Apache Reservation, 928-567-7999, www.cliffcastlecasinohotel.com.
The casino offers video and reel-to-reel machines, including more than 400 slots, video poker and keno machines, and table games including live poker and blackjack. Bingo tables abound. Hotel guests can take advantage of the pool and jacuzzi, and guest rooms have flat-screen televisions. Diners can choose upscale dining in Cedar Ridge restaurant, the casual Grille or the Apache Spirits lounge with plenty of live entertainment.
Details: At mile marker 251 on Arizona 87 just south of Payson, Tonto Apache Reservation, 800-777-7529, www.mazatzal-casino.com.
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