Casinos up the ante

​It’s not the bright lights and glitz of Las Vegas, but if you want to try your luck, it’s easy to do so close to home.

From the clamor of the slot machines to the intensity of the high-limit table games and, even, a bit of cheering at the racetrack, Ohio casinos have plenty to offer those who are feeling lucky.

Home sweet home

Miami Valley residents don’t have to travel far from home to meet up with Lady Luck.

Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway, in Dayton, has 1,000 machines to play — from penny games to those that ring in at $25 a play. Beyond the slots, guests can watch live harness racing (starting in September) or wager on races from around the country in the simulcast theater and clubhouse. Or you can take a break from the action or check on your favorite team in the Skybox Sports Bar.

Miami Valley Gaming, in nearby Lebanon, currently hosts live harness racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. The racino also offers a variety of dining options from specialty fine dining at Cin City Sea & Steak to a more casual Acres Seasonal Buffet, which showcases locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Short road trip

Those who long to try their hand at table games will need to travel a bit further down the interstate to the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, which sports close to 2,000 slot machines as well as a WSOP Poker Room, and table games from blackjack to baccarat and roulette to craps. Dining options are plentiful and include Jack Binion’s Steak, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and Bobby’s Burger Palace, chef Bobby Flay’s first Ohio location. The Horsehoe also has both indoor and outdoor venues for concerts and other live shows.

If thoroughbred racing is more to your liking, the Belterra Park Gaming & Entertainment Center in Cincinnati is for you. With live thoroughbred racing 100 days a year, as well as simulcast wagering, five restaurants and 1,300-plus games, there is plenty to do on the banks of the Ohio River.

Gambling Hoosier-style

Long before the Buckeye state had casinos of its own, Ohioans were looking to make a buck or more at the Southern Indiana casinos. Belterra, Hollywood and Rising Star casinos are all within about a 90-minute drive from the Dayton area and offer more than slots and table games.

Belterra: With a gambling boat casino – packed with slot machines and table games – seven restaurants and bars, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, a spa and more than 600 guest rooms, Belterra is more than a casino, it’s a resort. The Centerstage Showroom hosts a variety of popular acts including Tanya Tucker, Lyle Lovett and Kenny Rogers this spring.

Hollywood Casino: Whether you’re celebrating your winnings or drowning your sorrows, the 99 Hops House can help with 99 beers to choose from, including more than 30 local and regional brews. Hollywood on the Roof has live bands or, if you’d rather dance the night away, check out the 70s & 80s dance club Boogie Nights.

Rising Star: Table games and 1,000 slot machines are just the beginning as the expansive resort also includes a Scottish links-style golf course, close to 300 guest rooms and a theater that brings in a variety of entertainers from soap opera celebrities and musicians to comedians.

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Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.

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