By Steve Beauregard
Although there are some that are close and within fairly easy driving range, there are not, currently, any casinos in Atlanta, nor any other part of Georgia.
Of course, that may change, in 2018, when a proposed referendum allowing a limited number of casinos is expected to be on the ballot. However for now, Atlantans who want to satisfy their gambling itch have to either go on a casino cruise, or drive out of state.
The closest casino to Atlanta (including cruises), is Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino in tiny Murphy, North Carolina.
Opened in the fall of 2015, the casino is 122 miles away from the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta, (or 197 kilometers). Depending on the traffic, most of the time it would take you between 2 and 2 ½ hours to get there.
During the highest traffic times on Friday afternoons however, Google maps estimates that it would take you 3 hours and 15 minutes to make the drive up Interstate 575.
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino has just over 1,000 slot machines, 70 table games (but no poker room), and 60,000 square feet of casino space, along with a five outlet food court. The food court is home to a Starbucks, Panda Express, Earl of Sandwich and the like. The hotel boasts 300 rooms.
(Here’s a map showing you directions to the closest casino to Atlanta, marked as “B”)
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino is the little brother of the much larger and grander Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Up until September of 2015, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort was considered the closest casinos to Atlanta. It has four times the number of gaming machines (i.e. slot machines, video poker machines, etc.) than its newer, smaller brother in Murphy. However at 40 more miles away, it’s also a longer drive. The Cherokee Casino Resort is 161 miles away, and a normal drive time from Atlanta to this casino clocks in at roughly 3 hours.
Casinos Near Atlanta
Other than these two Harrah’s properties, which are both owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, and both of which are operated by Caesars Entertainment, there are very few other casinos near Atlanta.
The only other casinos near Atlanta are the Creek Casino and Wind Creek Casino – both in Montgomery, Alabama. From downtown Atlanta, it’s a 161 mile drive to the Wind Creek. Oddly enough, that’s the same exact distance as it is from Atlanta to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. However since it’s just a 154 mile drive to the Creek Casino, the Creek takes the title as being the second closest casino to Atlanta.
(The inside of the Cherokee Valley River Casino)
Closest Casinos to Atlanta and Area Cities
Here are the distances from Atlanta and surrounding areas to the Cherokee Valley River Casino.
Cumberland: 112 miles.
Sandy Springs: 117 miles.
Roswell: 99 miles
Johns Creek: 105 miles
Alpharetta: 96 miles
Marietta: 104 miles
Smyrna: 113 miles
Casino Cruises Near Atlanta
Georgia has one line of casino cruises. If you’re not familiar with these, a casino cruise leaves shore for international waters, which is outside U.S. and state gaming law regulations.The cruises only last for a few hours, and because you’re outside the jurisdiction of United States and Georgia law, you only have to be 18 years old to gamble on these floating casinos.
The one casino cruise ship in operation in Georgia is the Emerald Princess Casino. However its dock is 314 miles away, which equals roughly a 4 and ½ hour drive. If you go, you’ll find an experience similar to a smaller land-based casino, as the four deck boat has 220 slot machines, 12 blackjack tables, 8 poker tables, and craps and roulette as well.
Formerly, there was the closer Tradewinds Casino Cruise line, based out of Savannah, however the company closed in the fall of 2015.
Also, for reasons unknown to this writer, Victory Casino Cruises is advertising themselves as, (I’m quoting directly from their website), “The closest casino to Atlanta.” They go on to say: “Atlanta, Georgia has a new, exciting entertainment option just minutes away…” That sounds nice, however Victory Casino Cruises leave port from Jacksonville, Florida.
For those of you unaware of the geography, Jacksonville is a 363 mile drive south. It would take you over five hours to get there. So while the “just minutes away” line Victor Casino Cruises brags about may technically be true, the real time is actually over 300 minutes.