The Wild West city of Deadwood, South Dakota, has been a gambling town since it was settled in the 1870s. The Roaring ’20s established Atlantic City as America’s original gaming mecca. Las Vegas had been gambling long before Nevada lawmakers legalized it on a local level in 1931. Although these cities are known for gaming, they offer plenty of other ways for visitors to play.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
By all accounts, 2014 was a rough year for Atlantic City gaming — four of the city’s 12 casinos closed — but 2015 is looking up. Trump Taj Mahal didn’t shut its doors after billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in. The Showboat hotel and casino will reopen as a city campus and hotel for Stockton University. Officials are waiting to hear about a possible buyer for Revel, and Atlantic City’s oldest casino, Resorts, just launched online gaming.
“They have some very innovative things that will bring a different vibe to the town,” said Heather Colache, national tourism sales manager for Meet AC. “2015 will be very exciting for us; all our numbers point to it’s only going to go up from here.”
Although gaming has taken its hits, Atlantic City has always done well in nongaming arenas because “we’re an actual destination,” she said. “We’re not just casinos; we have the beach and the boardwalk and much more.”
Steel Pier is building an observation wheel similar to the London Eye and will add a zip line on the beach. The city’s culinary scene is also on the rise: The Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill opened in February at Caesars Atlantic City, and Guy Fieri’s Chophouse opened last year at Bally’s.
The city also recently started offering free tours and concerts showcasing the 1920s pipe organ — the largest in the world as measured by the number of pipes — in the historic Boardwalk Hall Auditorium.