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These Revived Casinos Are Winning Groups Over!

These Revived Casinos Are Winning Groups Over!

Several of today's casinos are creating offerings that go way beyond just gaming and placing bets.

They've focused on revitalizing their spaces, including making improvements and renovations for a more appealing experience, and they're also adding or enhancing their amenities to attract visitors with a variety of interests. Think: expanded gaming opportunities, deluxe accommodations, entertainment, attractions, recreation, shopping, spas and more.

If you're planning a casino trip for your group, and want to ensure there's something for everyone—and that their trip is truly memorable in all the right ways—consider one of these hand-picked destinations.

Situated amid the Hot Springs region of Arkansas, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort has a real "wow" factor. Being only a short distance from Hot Springs National Park, downtown and Bathhouse Row is a major draw in itself. But, there's much more to be found on site at the casino resort. For starters, there's a newly added event center that's not only ideal for conferences and group meetings; it's also a host to headliner entertainment with seating for 1,000-plus. Acts include comedy shows, tribute bands, and musical performances, with styles ranging from R&B to country to classic rock. Many visitors go to Oaklawn for a show and stay for the casino.

The casino resort also has a roughly 200-room, eight-story hotel with the world-class Astral Spa inside. And, there is an array of dining, with the Oak Room and Bar and the Bugler being two of the more upscale establishments, while Mainline Sports Bar is more casual.

Horse racing is another reason to take your group to Oaklawn. Racing season starts in December and runs through early May, bringing in huge crowds and with a record-setting purse distribution. The purse on the Arkansas Derby for 2024, for example, is more than $1 million! It's common for racegoers to end their day at the casino, or unwind at the sports bar, which features an all-new Sportsbook area, axe throwing, and shuffleboard, plus three Topgolf Swing Suites offering simulated golf, baseball, hockey and soccer.

Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is located in mid-Michigan, and is a premier gaming destination in the Midwest. They boast an indoor entertainment venue that hosts concerts, comedy, magicians, live game shows, and dine and drink events, as well as a seasonal, outdoor venue with a Summer Concert Series featuring the biggest names in the business. They have recently elevated their dining options to include Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, plus they've added a brand-new food district, with favorites such as Chicken Guy, Bubbakoo's Burritos, Bonanno's New York Pizza Kitchen and Ike's Love & Sandwiches.

Guests can also relax and unwind in the luxurious, AAA Four-Diamond Resort, with newly renovated rooms, or further bask in tranquility with a treatment at their full-service spa.

Soaring Eagle Casino also features a 210,000-square-foot gaming floor, with slots, table games, poker and bingo, while the new Ascend Sportsbook & Lounge offers a ticket window and self-service betting kiosks.

Set in the heart of Milwaukee, Potawatomi Casino Hotel is another Midwest favorite, offering some of the best in gaming, dining and entertainment. On the property is a 500-room, 19-story hotel—the second largest in Milwaukee—and is home to a number of distinctive restaurants. The casino hotel is in the final stages of a $190 million renovation, which is expected to be completed in 2024. Improvements and additions include two new gaming areas, a new bar and restaurant, and more than 300 new slot machines. There's also a much-anticipated, bigger and better Sportsbook coming soon.

As part of the new developments, the casino introduced its largest gaming area, ElevenHundred, as well as ElevenHundred Bar & Lounge, where guests can enjoy "slot seats." Also new are the woodland-floral-adorned Atrium gaming area and the 1833 Club, an exclusive, members-only VIP lounge, restaurant and gaming area.

Street Eatz bar and restaurant is yet another new addition, with Milwaukee favorites such as barbecue, brats and street tacos on the menu, plus slushy cocktails and a range of beers. There's Rock & Brews, too, a collaboration with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS. And, for those who need a little pick-me-up, Cream City Coffee Co. delivers, with Colectivo coffee, specialty drinks and coffee cocktails—plus pastries and sandwiches.

Pechanga Resort Casino is one of the largest in the U.S., with 20 bars and restaurants, 1,100 hotel rooms and suites, a two-story luxury spa, a 4.5-acre pool complex, an on-site championship golf course, two concert venues, a 200,000-square-foot casino floor, and 175,000 square feet of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space with catering and banquet capabilities.

Pechanga recently completed a seven-month, complete refresh of its signature restaurant, the Great Oak Steakhouse, which has been a AAA Four-Diamond Award and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner for several years running. It's completely modernized with a sleek dining environment and an even more elevated menu with impressive culinary creations—plus 200 wine selections and to-die-for desserts. An ideal space for group and VIP events, it accommodates groups up to 30 in the Vintage and Acorn rooms within the steakhouse.

One other noteworthy aspect of Pechanga is their commitment to sustainability. They've implemented a robust food waste recycling program, linenless banquet tables, compostable to-go containers and large, refillable in-room bath amenities. Hotel room lights also turn down 70% if a guest has left the room without turning the lights off.

Creating additional allure for groups, Pechanga is located near Temecula Valley Wine Country. Wine tour shuttles arrive daily to take guests to wine country, then return them back to the resort at the end of the visit.

Bossier City, Louisiana is home to Margaritaville Resort Casino (one of many nationwide). This location, set on the Red River, has a signature, carefree island vibe combined with Vegas-style gaming and high-end hospitality. Their newly opened Sportsbook Restaurant and Bar offers a two-level sports betting option, and recent updates to the casino floor provide a superior guest experience. They've also renovated and converted their buffet into a Drago's Seafood Restaurant—a favorite New Orleans staple. On the horizon is a full revamp of their hotel, plus the addition of a cigar lounge. Of further interest to groups is The Spa & Salon at Margaritaville®, a number of restaurants and live entertainment.

Have a Gambling Problem? Call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1.800.522.4700 or visit for 100% confidential help, 24-7/365.

Written by Allison Kay Bannister, Contributing Writer for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb '24 issue of Groups Today.

Photo Courtesy of Pechanga Resort Casino.


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