Atlantic City, New Jersey; 609-317-1000
Distance from DC: 193 miles
Best reasons to go: The Borgata is the best casino on the East Coast—and better than many in Vegas. The poker room has more than 80 tables, its own parking area, a food court, and the liveliest games. It’s next to an energetic, always crowded, and smoky room where you can bet on and watch horseraces from around North America.
Other bets: The Borgata has more than 180 table games, including rows of roulette. On a busy weekend it might have as many as 16 craps tables working. Despite the Borgata’s upscale image, table games have reasonable minimum bets that make playing fun—although one $100-minimum craps table is often kept open on weekends. (I’ve seen Howard Stern there on some Saturday nights.) In the slots area, you’ll find popular games as well as machines you won’t see anywhere else but that have the best payout rate of any New Jersey casino.
The scene: Nightlife patrons may not be as intoxicated as at Revel, but things can get pretty wild at any of the four bars. Big-name entertainers such as Pearl Jam, K.D. Lang, and Jay Leno have recently taken the stage.
Take a break: Both Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck have places to eat here, but many regulars say Noodles of the World, on the casino floor, is the best Asian restaurant in town.
What you should know: The Borgata is more generous than most casinos in dispensing food comps and free rooms to high-volume slots players. Poker players can easily earn a dollar an hour in free meal comps. Save them for the Borgata’s spectacular Sunday-morning buffet.
Bottom line: The only thing missing from the Borgata is the ocean. For a few dollars, you can hop over to the boardwalk on one of Atlantic City’s jitneys. Make this your top Atlantic City stop, whether you stay at the hotel or not.
This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.