By Steve Beauregard
It has the Texas state capitol, the famous 6th Street music scene, and a bustling university with over 50,000 students.
But it doesn’t have a casino.
As such, the closest casino to Austin, Texas is the WinStar World Casino & Resort, in Thackerville, Oklahoma, right past the Texas/Oklahoma border.
This casino is 262 miles from downtown Austin.
The drive is a simply northbound I-35 shot all the way there. However it would take you between 3 hours, 50 minutes to 4.5 hours. On busy Friday afternoons, it can take a little over 5 hours to reach the WinStar.
Once you get there, however, you’ll find yourself at the largest casino in the United States, with over 600,000 square feet of gaming space.
The WinStar has 7,400 slots and other electronic games, 97 table games, (including craps, blackjack, baccarat and the like), keno, an off-track betting parlor and a 46 table poker room.
In addition to a 1,400 hotel rooms, the resort has a huge events center, convention center, bars, lounges, pools a spa and 17 restaurants.
(Here’s a map of the casinos nearest to Austin. Yellow represents the WinStar, Orange is the Choctaw Casino. The Blue pin represents the three casinos in Lake Charles, while Black is the Lucky Eagle Casino).
Other Casinos Close to Austin
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino (Black pin)
Technically speaking, there is a casino closer to Austin than the WinStar. However since it doesn’t have table games nor traditional slots and video poker machines, we haven’t labeled it as the closest one.
It’s the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel, 228 miles southwest of Austin on the Mexican border. The drive on I-35 south would take you between 3 ½ and 4 ½ hours, depending on traffic.
While the casino hotel is modern, and has a nice hotel, restaurants and bars, it only has bingo, and class 2 style gaming machines that are bingo-based, rather than the standard slot machines and video poker machines found at “normal casinos.”
The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle, does, however, have a regular poker room.
Choctaw Casino Resort (Orange Pin)
Like the WinStar, the Choctaw Casino Resort is a large, Vegas-style southern Oklahoma casino popular with Texas gamblers.
The Choctaw, located in Durant, Oklahoma, is 286 miles from the center of Austin. According to Google maps, the drive would take from between 4 to 5 ½ hours.
Although not as large as the WinStar, the Choctaw is a sparkling resort in its own right, with 776 hotel rooms, arcades, bowling alleys, movie theaters, 12 restaurants and 5 bars.
The modern casino is home to 4,100 slots, numerous table games, and a 30 table poker room.
Lake Charles, LA. Casinos (Blue pin)
The next closest casinos to Austin are three large Vegas-style resorts in the town of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The Isle of Capri, Golden Nugget Lake Charles and the L’Auberge are all modern hotel/casinos with plenty of games, restaurants and entertainment options.
The Golden Nugget and L’Auberge in particular, are especially nice. Both have over a thousand rooms apiece, thousands of slots, plenty of table games and amenities such as a spa and golf course.
These however, are just over 300 miles from Austin (307 to be exact), which equal a drive time of between 4 and ½ and 5 ½ hours.
Austin Poker Room
Despite the lack of legalized gambling in and around Austin, the city does have a card room.
It’s a card and social club, in which you pay a membership fee and hourly fee ($9 per hour) for the opportunity to play Texas Hold’em cash games and tournaments.
It’s called the Texas Card House, and its website claims to be completely legal. There is no rake, nor is their tipping allowed.
Cash games include $1/2 and $2/5 No-limit hold’em and some pot limit Omaha games. There are also a few tournaments held throughout the week.
11907 Manchaca Road
Austin, TX. 78748
One last note, there are some other casinos on I-10 on the way to Lake Charles that are under 300 miles from Austin, however all of these (including the Delta Downs Racetrack and Casino), are slots-only casinos.
(Photo courtesy of the WinStar World Resort & Casino)