You want to do something different on New Year’s Eve 2019. Is standing around a crowded apartment or club with random drunken strangers waiting for the year to end is not your idea of excitement? You’re in luck! Chase the ultimate New Year’s Eve thrills in a casino. As explosions of fireworks fill the night sky, dress up like James Bond (or a Bond Girl), rent a sports car, and roll up to the doors of the best places to gamble on New Year’s Eve 2019.
Viva Las Vegas!
The global Mecca for gamblers and thrill seekers is Las Vegas, hands down. The Rat Pack swaggered down the Strip looking for action, the sweet voices of the old crooners wooed the crowds, and Elvis immortalized this famous sin city in a song. Flying into Vegas is a surreal site: thousands of miles of desert suddenly give way to a compact city of glitz and glamour that appears to suddenly rise up out of the earth. Iconic world buildings reach up to the sky to greet you: Egyptian pyramids made of glass, replicas of the Statue of Liberty, and the Eiffel Tower, all shouting Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!
If you plan to stay in a Las Vegas hotel for New Year’s Eve, book it as far in advance as possible. Las Vegas is extremely crowded on New Year’s Eve, and it’s much easier to have a base camp from which to plan your gambling conquests. Plus you can inhale all that decadent buffet food and drink. The Las Vegas Strip is so named due to the massive amount of action crammed into one main street stretching over four miles. The Strip is home to such legendary luxury hotel casinos as the MGM Grand, Bellagio, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Caesar’s Palace, and the Flamingo, each with its own theme and claim to fame.
The Flamingo is the oldest hotel casino still operating in Las Vegas, and was first developed and operated in 1945 by notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel. As is the case with most hotels in Vegas, the Flamingo has been demolished and rebuilt several times over the past few decades. But it still bears its original name. The Flamingo’s theme merges Art Deco and the Caribbean. You will find hundreds of slots, roulette wheels, and card tables, plus a wildlife habitat full of, you guessed it: flamingos.
Stroll up to the lake with the musical fountain in front of the Belaggio and imagine you are one of Ocean’s 11, the Clooney-led gang in the casino heist film which was largely filmed there. This sprawling hotel casino complex contains nearly 4000 rooms and thousands of games of chance vying for your attention. Professional gamblers hold sway here, and their high roller rooms regularly see table action exceeding $1 million per game. The Belaggio is ensconced in a luxurious Italian theme.
To increase your odds of snagging a hotel room in Vegas on New Year’s Eve, go with the largest hotel in the United States, the MGM Grand. Boasting 6,852 rooms and more than 170,000 square feet of gambling space, the massive scale of the place will give you a huge case of Vegas fever. Even if you skip the Strip on New Year’s Eve, there’s enough gaming action, spas, celebrity shows, and celebrity chefs at the MGM Grand to keep you busy well into the New Year. The MGM Grand’s theme is Hollywood Art Deco.
Whichever Vegas hotel you choose to book for New Year’s Eve, remember a few Las Vegas basic tips. Beat the street traffic and use the casino monorail to zip between the attractions, casinos, and hotels, always tip your wait staff and dealers, wear something warm if you plan to be outdoors at night, and most importantly: whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
New Orleans: The Big Easy
If the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas is too much action for your blood, head on down to New Orleans over New Year’s Eve for some Southern charm and a relaxed way of life which earned the city the nickname The Big Easy. Famous for its French history, decadent dining, and joie de vivre, this town really knows how to party. A famous New Orleans quote: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” New Orleans is also the birthplace of jazz music, so your entire visit will be set to a lively soundtrack.
While the Louisiana Territory was under French colonial rule, intrepid gamblers from France brought their roulette wheels to New Orleans, making it one of the only places to legally gamble in The New World. Since then, casinos have had a rough ride on the road to legitimacy. Even during periods of gambling bans, those obstinate New Orleanians opened riverboat casinos, tribal gaming, and good old fashioned speakeasies to keep the gaming action flowing over the years. Today, you can freely gamble in many areas of New Orleans, be it on land or water. Visit New Orleans before the end of 2019 to breathe in the Tricentennial air. New Orleans is 300 years old this year, and has been living life 24/7 since 1718.
The famous Harrah’s of Las Vegas fame also operates a hotel and casino in New Orleans. Featuring 450 oversized rooms and suites, 100 table games and over 1500 slots, this popular hotel casino is the perfect base camp to launch your New Orleans New Year’s Eve adventure. The slot machines even have a one-touch drink ordering system. Talk about Big Easy. Later, stroll down world-famous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter for a taste of old French colonial charm, cool jazz, and hot Cajun food. New Orleans is also the birthplace of the cocktail (Sazerac, anyone?), so you can wet your whistle in grand style.
New Orleans prides itself in its rich cultural history, and never misses a chance to throw a party. A great place to toast in the New Year is on the Riverfront. Board the stately Steamboat Natchez for a New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise. Board the classic steamer in downtown New Orleans for a leisurely float down the Mississippi River and a view of the exploding fireworks over Old New Orleans. If you’d rather stay on dry land for the festivities, be sure to check out Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, a perennial event which is etched into the history of New Year’s Eve in America. Get there early to be part of the crowd for this televised event. Revelers in New York’s Times Square watch a giant, glistening apple slide down a rail at the countdown to the New Year. Back in Big Easy, the Fleur de Lis does the drop.
New Year’s Eve at the Beach: Atlantic City Casinos
Just as the historical gambling ban in California created a huge wave of gamblers flocking to Las Vegas, New York’s fairly anemic gambling scene sends gamblers scrambling south to Atlantic City, New Jersey for a piece of the gaming action. Atlantic City’s location on the Eastern Seaboard makes it the perfect location for a beach resort. Add to that dozens of casino resorts, thousands of casino games, and a legendary beach boardwalk, and you’ve got a great recipe for an exciting gambling adventure.
Since gambling is such a lucrative business, the big players plant resort hotel casinos at all the gaming hotspots, including Atlantic City. Find famous casino resort chains like Caesars, Harrah’s, Golden Nugget, and Ballys all on one beach. While it’s certainly too cold for a dip in the ocean on December 31, the New Year’s Eve fireworks exploding over the crashing waves is a sight not to be missed. For an excellent television series on the history of Atlantic City, its origins, scandals, gangsters, and high rollers, check out Boardwalk Empire.
Book a stay at the Tropicana Casino and Resort for a taste of Old Havana. The Tropicana is one of the largest hotels in New Jersey with around 2400 guest rooms. It also boast over 2400 slot machines and more than 130 table games scattered throughout 126,000 square feet of gaming space. You can also wander the Boardwalk and check out other famous Atlantic City sites like Margaritaville or the LandShark Bar and Grill. Toast in the New Year at any of the Atlantic City casinos and you’re sure to get a good view of all of the fireworks action. And if the temptation to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square is too much to resist, you can always head up to New York City for the world famous countdown ceremonies. Or watch them from the giant screens in your Atlantic City resort hotel.
Gambling For the Digital Age: Online Casinos
If you happen to be reading this too late to book your hotel at one the legendary gambling cities above, you can still get a piece of the action at an online casino. The popularity of online gambling has hit an all-time high, and almost anyone can get in on the action. You can skip the tux rental and sports car and gamble at home in your pajamas. Play video slots, poker, keno, roulette, baccarat, and more—for free or for real money. You can even download online casino apps for your mobile, so wherever you are this New Year’s Eve, you can get a sweet taste of gaming action.
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nicole studied economics at the University of Chicago before moving to Singapore, where she ended up as a financial analyst at Nomura covering the southeast Asia casino markets. After many years of crunching numbers, Nicole finally decided it was time to switch careers and follow her life long dream of being a writer. Today Nicole regularly blogs on casino related topics while working on her first book, a non-fiction history of the rise of casino gambling in Macau. In her free time Nicole loves to swim, mountain bike and ride horses.
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