By Steve Beauregard
Its has the world’s busiest theme park, over 120,000 hotel rooms, and 66 million annual visitors.
But it doesn’t have a casino.
As one of the most visited vacation destinations in the world, Orlando is a haven for entertainment, which sort of makes its lack of nearby casinos surprising.
In fact, there is only one “real” casino close to Orlando, and its 88 miles away from downtown Orlando, in nearby Tampa.
To be fair, there are greyhound dog tracks, poker rooms, and even a casino cruise boat available nearby, but in terms of traditional casinos, there’s just one.
Closest Casino Near Orlando Florida with Slot Machines
And that casino is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in nearby Tampa.
This Indian, (or Native American) casino is a contemporary, spacious resort located on the outskirts of Tampa Bay, Florida, which is south and west of Orlando.
As mentioned above, it’s still 88 miles from the heart of the city, but a little closer from the International Drive hotels and Disney resorts. From the center of Orlando, the drive on Interstate 4 would take from an hour 15 minutes, up to 1 hour and 50 minutes, according to Google Maps estimates.
(Here’s the driving route from downtown Orlando “A” to The Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa “B”)
Closest Casino to Disney World
The Hard Rock Seminole Tampa is also the closest casino to Disney World. It’s exactly 62 miles way. The drive from the resort area would take your between 1 hour to an hour and a half.
More about the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Hotel and Casino
The Seminole Hard Rock is a true, Las Vegas-style casino, both in terms of size, games offered, and popularity. Forbes recently reported the casino brings in close to $900 million in annual gaming revenue. It happens to be one of the top ten biggest casinos in the U.S.
Between its modern hotel, elegant pool area, spa, seven restaurants, six bars, and spacious casino, there is something for everyone here.
That big casino floor includes 5,000 slot machines and video poker machines.
Their high limit slot area alone is 13,000 square feet and features 200 machines with limits up to (gulp) $1,000.
On the table game side, there are over 120 table games, including the usual games: (Blackjack, pai gow poker, three card poker, etc.), along with games like Mississippi Stud, Spanish 21, and mini baccarat.
The resort’s large, renowned poker room has 46 tables, and plays host to numerous daily tournaments.
In addition to two fine dining restaurants, there are four other less expensive restaurants onsite, along with the “Fresh Harvest” buffet.
Options at the Seminole Hard Rock Café’s food Court include a Shake N’ Burger, Sirrico’s Pizza, Cha Cha Cha Cuban Café, The Asian Palace, and Sweet Lucille’s (for smoothies and ice cream).
As of this writing in the summer of 2017, the resort is undergoing a massive expansion, which will include 500 more hotel rooms.
5223 North Orient Road
Tampa, FL. 33610
You have to be 21 years old to play slots and table games, but interestingly enough, you only have to be 18 to play poker.
Although this is the only casino near Orlando, there are some other gambling options in the area:
Orange City Racing & Card Club
Located 30 miles north on Interstate 4, this new addition to Orlando’s gambling scene is just a 30 minute drive away, (that’s during good times – an hour and 15 minutes during busy times). From Disney World, its’ 46 miles, which is roughly anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minute drive (at peak times).
Opened in January 2017, the 26,000 square feet building is a renovated theater in a strip mall. There aren’t slots or table games (as of yet), but instead, a 33 table poker room. As to the “racing” part of the name? There won’t be live racing, but as sister property to the Daytona Racing & Card Club (see below), there will be betting available via a racing simulcast.
The Orange City Racing & Card Club has a 140 seat restaurant and sports bar.
822 Saxon Boulevard
Orange City, FL. 32763
It's a busy Memorial Day here at Orange City Racing and Card Club! 17 tables currently running and we're about to open an 18th! pic.twitter.com/1FbLe3LrIB
— Orange City Poker (@OrangeCityPoker) May 29, 2017
Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club
Located 62 miles north and east from downtown Orlando, it would take you between 45 minutes up to an hour and a half (during rush hour) to drive here.
Formerly known as the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room, it has, (surprise!) a poker room. And a large one at that, with 55 tables spreading Texas Hold’em of course, along with Omaha and the rarely-seen Seven Card Stud.
This well-respected poker room hosts daily tournaments, and has hosted bigger events, such as the nationally-televised Heartland Poker Tour.
Oddly, (to me), they have some pseudo casino games that are “poker” in name only. Games like “One Card Poker” (Like “War”) is more of a casino carnival game than poker. Somehow these are allowed.
$500 High Hands Every 15 Minutes Tomorrow in the Poker Room from Noon Until Midnight! pic.twitter.com/5NVVLZ2oQI
— Daytona Dogs & Poker (@DBKCandPR) June 16, 2017
The Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club is open from 10 AM to 4 AM on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends.
For those of you who like to bet on the dogs, there is the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club, located 13 miles north of downtown Orlando.
While it has greyhound racing, it does not have a casino. And unlike many other kennel clubs, it doesn’t even have a poker room.
960 S. Williamson Boulevard
Daytona Beach, FL. 32114
Phone: (386) 252-6484
Casino Cruises Close to Orlando
Lastly, the only other nearby gambling option for those of you living, or visiting in the Orlando area, is to sail on a casino cruise.
These day-long cruises go out to international waters, making the onboard gambling legal and outside the jurisdiction of state and federal gaming laws.
The nearest casino cruise to Orlando is the Victory Casino Cruises line in Cape Canaveral. It’s a 55 mile drive to there from downtown Orlando, and would take you about an hour to get to the port.
There is a fee to board the ship ($13 per person is common), and the ships have slots, and table games like craps and blackjack.