Wilmington, Delaware; 302-994-2521
Distance from DC: 106 miles
Best reasons to go: This is the place to play tournament poker; a typical weekday might draw 100 players. The poker room is awash in natural sunlight, and dealers and floor personnel are friendly and helpful.
Other bets: Delaware casinos are the only places east of Nevada where you can bet legally on NFL games. You must pick at least three games at a time and get them all correct to win. Get 15 right and win $100,000. On game-day Sundays, the casino is packed, mostly with Ravens and Eagles fans, and an entire wall is lit end to end with HD screens showing every football game. The casino also has a good supply of newer slot machines, including Grease and Elvis.
The scene: Dealers here are only half joking when they call Delaware Park the world’s only PG-rated casino. Cocktail waitresses are well covered, there’s no smoking, and sales of hard liquor are limited. Owned by Rockville businessman William Rickman, Delaware Park is more generous than Charles Town in giving regular players free slots play and meals, and dealers remember customers’ names.
Take a break: This isn’t a fancy casino with expensive restaurants, clubs, and shops. Good restaurants are nearby—one of my favorites is Feby’s Fishery, a top-rated seafood house.
What you should know: You can avoid the last toll booth before the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the traffic jam it often creates by taking exit 109 and following Route 4 to the casino.
Bottom line: From a player’s point of view, this is one of the friendliest, most generous, and best-run small casinos in the country. You can have a good time and not feel the casino is trying to rip you off.
This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.