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Gambling Around DC: The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; 855-453-4858
Distance from DC: 248 miles
Best reasons to go: With just a few hundred machines, the Greenbrier has all the major games but on a smaller, more elegant scale. This is one place where the James Bond image of women in evening gowns and men in dinner jackets holds true. It has a lovely lounge where guests can bet on horseraces. The casino is open only to patrons of the 720-room mountain resort unless 400 or more rooms are sold—then you can get a casino pass by buying a $30 tour of the Greenbrier bunker, built during the Cold War to house members of Congress in case of a nuclear strike.
Other bets:There are high-limit craps, blackjack, and baccarat games in the oak-paneled high-roller room.
The scene: The casino opens at 11 am most days (1 pm on Sundays), but during the after-noon it’s mostly empty. At 11 every night, dancers appear at the top of the casino steps and enter to waltz music while Champagne is poured for each guest. Call me crazy, but the dancers seemed to bring a burst of good luck.
Take a break: If hunger strikes while you’re gambling, there’s an Asian restaurant, In-Fusion, in the rear of the casino, and a fun casual restaurant, Draper’s, outside the entrance.
What you should know: Silver Airways (800-864-8331) offers a daily flight from Dulles to Lewisburg, West Virginia, 20 minutes from the Greenbrier. The trip takes an hour on a 34-seat Saab 340B+; a shuttle from the Greenbrier meets you at the airport. There are also plans to inaugurate a 15-car luxury train ride from DC’s Union Station.
Bottom line: Managing a casino with limited hours and old-style decorum may be a challenge. I wouldn’t make a special trip for the casino, but if you go for the fantastic golf or spa, take the opportunity to slip into the casino and place a few bets around the 11 pm waltz.
This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.