By Steve Beauregard
The Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Florida metropolitan area has 361 days of sun per year, 3 of the top 10 beaches in the United States, 3 million residents, and one casino.
It’s the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, located off Interstate 4, just 7 miles north east of downtown Tampa. It’s the only casino in Hillsborough County, and there aren’t any casinos next door in Pinellas County.
Although there are some horse racing tracks, greyhound racing tracks, and poker rooms in the metropolitan region, the Seminole Hard Rock is the only traditional casino with slot machines even close to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
The next closest casino is the Seminole Casino Brighton, 140 miles to the southeast.
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Casino
With this western Florida gambling monopoly, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is thriving. With 239,000 square feet of gaming space, it ranks as one of the largest casinos in the U.S.A..
The second and final phase of the resort’s massive $700 million dollar expansion was completed in October of 2019.
The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa has 5,000 slot machines, ranging from penny machines to high-limit slots where it costs (gulp) $1,000 per spin.
The 179 table games are spread out in different areas, and they include a high-limit room, a blackjack pit with sexy dealers, and an Asian-themed room called the Jubao Palace.
Here’s a map showing you the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa (orange star), along with the three area racetrack/poker rooms: Derby Lane (yellow), Tampa Downs (Black), and Tampa Greyhound Track (Brown).
While you’ll find most of the usual favorites at the Seminole Hard Rock: blackjack, Let-it-ride, mini-baccarat, Pai Gow, 3-card poker, etc., you will NOT find live craps games or roulette tables here. There are electronic craps and roulette, but not their live versions. I’m unclear as to the specifics, but the Seminole Indian tribe’s compact with the state of Florida appears to prohibit live craps and roulette.
(Related: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Parking Fee & Map)
The resort does have poker however, and the Hard Rock Tampa’s remodeled poker room is one of the finest in Florida, with 46 tables. In addition to big tournaments, the usual no-limit cash games, the room offers Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven-Card Stud games.
Sports betting is not allowed in Florida, so there’s not a sportsbook here. Also, while you have to 21 or older to play slots and table games, you only have to be 18 to play in the poker room.
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Hotel
In addition to its massive casino, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa has a AAA Four Diamond hotel. The two hotel towers – the 12 story west tower and newer 14 story east tower – combine to give the resort 800 rooms.
The beautiful 10 acre lush pool complex has three pools. The resort also boasts a 1,500 concert hall, ten sit-down restaurants, a buffet, food court, bars and a 26,000 square foot spa.
As for parking? There’s plenty of it (5,000 spaces to be exact), and self-parking here is free.
Hard Rock Casino Tampa Hours
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa Bay is open 24 hours a day, seven days week, every day of the year, (including Christmas).
Poker Rooms and Other Gambling in Tampa Bay
The Seminole Hard Rock may be Tampa’s only casino, however there are some card game and race betting options for people looking to gamble in the area.
Tampa Bay Downs
This classic horse racing venue (it opened in 1926), is the only horse racing track on Florida’s west coast.
Although the live thoroughbred horse racing runs only from December to May, Tampa Bay Downs offers live simulcast wagering all year long.
In addition, the race track is home to a 23 seat poker room. Called “The Skills Poker Room,” it hosts tournaments and spreads cash games you’re your standard $1/2 No-limit Texas Hold’em, along with Pot-Limit Omaha, and even Stud.
The Tampa Bay Downs poker room is open seven days a week, from 10 AM to 4 AM.
(Related: Orlando Casinos)
Operating in St. Petersburg since 1925, Derby Lane is the oldest greyhound dog racing track still in operation. The historic venue offers wagering on live dog races of course, along with simulcast betting on other greyhound and horse races around the country.
Derby Lane also has the Tampa-St. Pete area’s largest poker room. In addition to regular no-limit and limit Texas Hold’em games, the 55 table room offers some carnival games like 3 card poker, 1 card poker , Pai Gow, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.
They also offer daily tournaments, including even single-table tourneys.
Tampa Greyhound Track
Although they haven’t offered greyhound racing since 2007, the name of this place hasn’t changed.
Today the track only offers simulcast racing of dog and horse races around the country. There’s been speculation that the track’s massive grounds will be the location for the proposed new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
For now though, the Tampa Greyhound Track remains open. It has a 14 table poker room, spreading no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, some carnival games, and even Chinese poker.
Tropical Breeze Casino
Formerly called the “Sun Cruz Casino,” this casino ship departs three times daily from Fort Richey, which is a 40 mile drive northwest of downtown Tampa Bay.
This isn’t exactly a luxurious, sparkling new ship, however maybe that’s not the point. Once the ship reaches international waters, the ship’s 100 slot machines and various table games (including craps, blackjack and roulette), open up for passengers to play.
There is a cover charge to board the ship, which was $8 at the time of this writing.
Photos courtesy of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa’s media/blog page.