By Steve Beauregard
It has the world’s busiest theme park, over 125,000 hotel rooms, and 68 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 one billion in annual gaming revenue. It happens to be one of the top ten biggest casinos in the U.S.
Between its 800-plus room modern hotel, elegant pool area, spa, eleven restaurants, (not counting a food court), six bars, and spacious casino, there is something for everyone here.
That big casino floor (pushing 245,000 square feet), 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.
(Related: casinos in Tampa, Florida)
On the table game side, there are now 179 table table games, including most of the usual games: (Blackjack, pai gow poker, three card poker, etc.), along with games like Mississippi Stud, Spanish 21, and mini baccarat. However the casino does not have craps nor roulette, per the tribe’s compact with the state of Florida.
The resort’s large, renowned poker room has 46 tables, and plays host to numerous daily tournaments.
In addition to an upscale steak house and two other fine dining restaurants, there is a new Sugar Factory, a noodle bar, a Hard Rock Cafe, and 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, The Asian Palace, and healthy fast-food option simply called “Healthy.”
In October 2019, the second part of a large expansion opened, which included a new hotel tower, with 534 more hotel rooms and suites.
The expansion also brought to the resort a new 41,000 square foot spa, lounges, retail space, a new 10 acre swimming pool area, and restaurants. In addition, the new 7,000 square foot, 1,500 seat Hard Rock Event Center opened for concerts and comedy shows.
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 still fairly-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 in the former site of a suburban strip mall theater, and has been completely renovated into a contemporary card room and simulcast wagering venue.
The big draw here is the club’s 34 table poker room, which spreads limit hold’em, no-limit, Omaha Hi/Lo and even Seven Card Stud. There are a couple of weekly tournaments, as well as a bad beat jackpot here.
As to the “racing” part of the name? There’s not live racing, but as sister property to the Daytona Racing & Card Club (see below), there is betting available via a racing simulcast.
There aren’t slots here, however there are table games, including Fortune Pai Gow, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker, and One Card Poker, with limits starting at $5.
The Orange City Racing & Card Club Jake’s 29, a sports bar/restaurant serving 29 different beers, all at 29 degrees.
822 Saxon Boulevard
Orange City, FL. 32763
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. Limits start at $2/4 limit Texas Hold’em and $1/2 No-limit.
This well-respected poker room hosts daily tournaments, and has hosted bigger events, such as the nationally-televised Heartland Poker Tour.
As with Orange City Racing, they have some pseudo casino games that are “poker” in name only. Games like One Card Poker (similar to “War”).
The Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club is open from 10 AM to 4 AM on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends.
960 S. Williamson Boulevard
Daytona Beach, FL. 32114
Phone: (386) 252-6484
Sanford Orlando Kennel Club
For those of you who like to bet on the dogs, and don’t need a poker game or slots, there is the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club, located 13 miles north of downtown Orlando.
They offer live greyhound racing five days a week (off Tuesdays and Sundays), but simulcast racing seven days a week. It does not have a casino attached to the club, and, unlike many other kennel clubs, it doesn’t have a poker room. You have to be 18 years or older to bet here.
301 Dog Track Road
Longwood, FL 32750
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 (and five hour night 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.
(Top two photos and drawings courtesy of the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, bottom one from Orange City Racing & Card Club)