Casinos in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – A Look at the Potawatomi Casino

By Steve Beauregard

Wisconsin’s largest city is home to the NBA’s Bucks, MLB’s Brewers, Harley Davidson, 2 million people and one casino.

And Milwaukee’s one casino is a big one.

The Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is the only casino in Milwaukee
The Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is the only casino in Milwaukee

Located just about a mile southwest of the heart of downtown, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is in fact, one of the biggest casinos in America. And with over six million customers a year, it has been helping Wisconsinites scratch their gambling itch since its opening in March of 1991.

Potawatomi Casino Milwaukee Wisconsin

With a hotel, casino, restaurants, and entertainment venues, this massive complex boasts over one million square feet of space. It’s open 24 hours a day.

On the casino side alone, there is 150,000 square feet of gaming space, making the Potawatomi larger than almost all of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

From penny machines to $100 limits, there are just under 3,000 slot machines and video poker machines here, including many with progressive jackpots.

The selection of nearly 100 table games include all of the usual favorites: blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. All of the blackjack games have six deck shoes. There’s also a separate high-limit room.

Carnival games include Mississippi Stud, Let-it-Ride and the like. Many of these table games, (including Four Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em), include a $1 side bet option for a progressive jackpot.

(The black star on the map below represents The Potawatomi Hotel/Casino)

As of this writing, limits for table games are as low as $5 on weekdays, but go up on weekends and busier nights.

Poker

Located on the third level, Potawatomi’s poker room has 20 tables, and they have a progressive bad beat jackpot.

No-limit games offered range from your typical $1/3 on up to $5/10 depending on demand. Limit Texas Hold’em games start at $3/6 and can go up to $100/$200, also depending on demand.

Other variations available include Pot-Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi and Hi-Lo, and even Seven Card Stud.

On the tournament side, there are affordable buy-in NL tournaments on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

In addition to these tourneys, the poker room is a stop for the Mid-States Poker Tour, and hosts a World Series of Poker Circuit Event.

Bingo

Bingo is big at the Potawatomi. The casino, which started back in 1991 as just a bingo hall, has a huge, colorful room with seating for 1,350 players. Five hundred of these seats are in a smoke free area.

Games are offered seven days a week, and you can choose to play electronically, or old-school paper and dauber style. The exact schedule is subject to change, however on a recent weekday visit, games started at 9:30 AM with “Breakfast Bingo,” followed by sessions starting at 1 PM, 6 PM, and a 24 game program that started at 11 PM.

On the last Saturday of every month, the bingo hall hosts a 9:30 PM GLOW party. This a fun, loud, and interactive bingo session/dance party has music, lights, and extra must-win jackpots.

Off Track Betting

Located upstairs on the third floor next to the poker room, the OTB lets you wager on horses and dogs at tracks from around the country. There are 117 TVs here, along with self-service betting terminals, seating areas, and 87 carrels.

Potawatomi's Bingo Hall has seating for over 1,300 players
Potawatomi’s Bingo Hall has seating for over 1,300 players

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Restaurants & Bars

The lineup of restaurants here include Bella Italiana, Canal Street Café (in the hotel lobby), Dream Dance Steak, Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, and Ruyi (for sushi).

The Potawatomi Casino Buffet is popular, and guests can occasionally expect long lines (particularly on the all-you-can-eat Friday crab feast).

In addition to these, the Menomonee Valley Food Court has four different fast-casual options. A Starbucks-type of coffee stand called Stone Creek Coffee can be found near the hotel registration desk.

Bars included Curve Bar, and Bar 360, which is your typical center casino bar and which has frequently has live music.

Hotel

Opened in 2014, the 19 story hotel boasts a beautiful, soaring, contemporary lobby with high ceilings and a modern décor.

An $80 million expansion completed in August of 2019 added 119 more rooms to the resort.

All total, there are 500 hotel rooms and suites here, many with sweeping views of the Milwaukee skyline and Lake Michigan.

While it doesn’t have a swimming pool, there is an exercise room, business center, and The Ember Salon & Spa.

Shows & Entertainment

The Potawatomi Events Center has room for 2,700 people and hosts everything from conventions to mixed martial arts cage matches.

The Northern Lights Theater on the main casino floor, on the other hand, is smaller, and more of your traditional entertainment venue, with 500 seats, including balcony seating. Some famous (and formerly famous) singers perform here, and the stage is also home of the Bonkerz Comedy shows.

The new Top Golf Swing Suite allows you to play a round of simulated golf. It’s located right next to the Fire Pit sports bar.

Potawatomi Casino Parking

The resort has a massive six-story parking garage (4,400 spaces total), on the south end of the complex.

Access to the casino/hotel is easy via an enclosed skywalk.

Self-parking is completely free here, but valet parking will cost most of us $10.

Valet parking is free, however for hotel guests, and for Fire Keepers Player’s Card members at the Topaz level or higher.

Potawatomi’s Website: Paysbig

Since “Potawatomi” is not the easiest word to spell, the hotel & casino has made their official website easier to find by making it simply:

Paysbig.com

There you can check the current bingo game schedule and off-track betting schedule, current bar and dining specials, as well as review the events calendar to see if there’s a concert or comedy show that may interest you.

Most people perhaps, go to Paysbig.com to check their player’s card balances.

At Potawatomi, the player’s card is called the Fire Keepers Club.

Levels start at Ruby, (the card you get when you first sign up without any points), then progresses to Topaz, Sapphire, Emerald, and finally, Diamond.

When you log on to your Fire Keepers account at Paysbig.com, you can check your comps, other special FKC club offers, and even get a win/loss statement.

Potawatomi Hotel/Casino Address & Phone:

1721 West Canal Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233

Phone: 1-800-PAYSBIG

FAQ

Q. How old do you have to be to gamble at Potawatomi Casino?

Twenty-one years of age or older.

Q. Does the casino serve free drinks?

As with many tribal casinos, the Potawatomi Casino does not serve free alcoholic drinks to its customers. There is however, self-serve pop stations.

Q. Is there smoking?

A common complaint here is the presence of all the smoke. Smoking is allowed in most of the casino, but most of the restaurants are smoke free.

In addition, there are three non-smoking gaming areas: the hallway between the casino and the hotel, at the Sky Lodge on the 3rd floor, and in the area by the Northern Lights Theater.

Other Casinos Near Milwaukee

Other than the Potawatomi, there aren’t any other casino in Milwaukee. There are, however tribal casinos in Madison, Wisconsin Dells, Green Bay, as well as some casinos in the Chicago area.

Here are the six closest casinos to Milwaukee as measured from downtown:

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison – 77 miles

Rivers Casino Des Plaines (Illinois) – 80 miles

Grand Victoria Casino (Illinois) – 86 miles

Horseshoe Hammond (Indiana) – 108 miles

Oneida Casino Green Bay (2 casinos) – 119 miles

Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells – 121 miles

(Photos courtesy of the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino)