When we think of huge casinos, our minds turn to Las Vegas: The Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Venetian, Wynn, and Caesars Palace. Or maybe we think of the massive Foxwoods in Connecticut, or the resorts in Atlantic City.
Yet with all of these billion dollar mega-resorts, it may surprise you to learn the largest casino in the U.S. is located in a dusty town of just 445 residents in rural Oklahoma.
The biggest casino in the US is the WinStar World Casino & Resort in tiny Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Being in a remote area and sort of off the radar, the WinStar has snuck up on the folks who cover the United States gambling market, and who direct their focus on Vegas, Atlantic City, and the growing Pennsylvania casino market.
And in fact, the rise of WinStar has been swift. In 2004, it opened as nothing more than a bingo hall under a fabric tent. Today, its gaming space is over three times larger than that of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Between hotels, restaurants, and the like, the resort has 1.2 million square feet of space. The WinStar’s buffet alone has seating for over 500 people. Winstar’s 66,950 square feet of convention center space would make it larger than many casinos around the country.
However in terms of strictly gaming space, it has 400,000 square feet of casino floor space, making it the largest casino in the United States by far. The second largest is Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeast Connecticut, which has 344,000 square feet of casino space.
Largest Casino Resort in the United States
The Winstar’s massive multi-themed casino floor space boasts over an incredible 8,600 slot machines. To put that in perspective, many of the larger Las Vegas Strip casinos have 1/4 of that figure.
This 8,600 figure includes electronic table game versions of craps and blackjack and the like however there are nearly 100 live table games, in addition to the Winstar’s popular 55 table poker room.
Winstar vs. Foxwoods
We should note here that Foxwoods Resort Casino bills itself as “The largest resort casino in North America.”
The inclusion of the word “resort” makes this brag technically true, due to the massive size of the hotel and casino’s non-gaming space. Foxwoods has 2,200 hotel room whereas the WinStar has 1,400. Foxwoods also has over twice as many restaurants.
Including hotels, clubs, convention space, recreation amenities, spas, restaurants, retail shopping areas, etc., the gigantic Foxwoods complex has over nine million square feet of indoor space, dwarfing the total size of WinStar.
However Foxwoods Resort’s six connected casinos have a combined casino-only square footage of 344,000. This makes it huge of course, but still only the second largest casino in the United States.
WinStar also beats out Foxwoods in terms of gaming machines, defined as slot machines, video poker machines, electronic blackjack games, etc.
Foxwoods has “just” 4,800 slot machines, whereas WinStar has 8,600 different slot machines.
Foxwoods does have more than double the number of table games WinStar has however, with 250 table games, such as blackjack, Let-It-Ride, etc.
How Did WinStar Become the Country’s Biggest Casino?
An unlikely location for the king of the USA’s gambling market, the casino is located in an isolated area two miles north of the Red River, which is also the border between Oklahoma and Texas.
But in a nation of over 300 million people, why is a place like tiny Thackerville home to the USA’s biggest casino?
The main (and really only) reason that a remote casino in the heartland is the nation’s largest is because it nearly has a regional gambling monopoly.
The WinStar is just 80 miles from the center of Dallas, Texas. And the U.S. Census Bureau recently estimated the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex to have a population of just under 7 million people (6.95 million to be more specific).
The WinStar has the geographical fortune to be one of only two casinos within 100 miles of this growing metropolitan area. (The other is the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma, about 91 miles away).
Unlike almost every other casino in the United States, the WinStar faces zero neighboring competition, other than the aforementioned Choctaw Casino, 60 miles to the east. There are no other casinos across the street from the WinStar, nor down the road to compete for Dallas area gambling dollars.
What I’m trying to say is that when you’re the only casino within an hour and a half’s drive for 7 million people, you’re going to do well.
In fact, the vast majority of WinStar’s 3.5 million plus annual visitors drive up from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Industry estimates state that 90% of WinStar’s customer base originates from the Dallas/North Texas area.
So although Foxwoods gets points for sheer overall size, and the Las Vegas Strip casinos get style points for pizazz, the WinStar World Resort and Casino gets bragging rights as the largest casino in the United States.
Winstar World Casino and Resort Address, Phone & Website
777 Casino Ave.
Thackerville, OK 73459
Phone: (800) 622-6317
WinStar World Casino and Resort FAQ
Q. Where is the WinStar Casino?
A. The WinStar is located on the very south end of Oklahoma, just across the Red River from the northern Texas state line. In fact, the southern end of the massive WinStar complex is less than two miles from the Oklahoma state line marker sign. It’s 133 miles south of Oklahoma City.
Q. How old do you have to be to gamble at the WinStar Casino?
A. You just have to be 18 years or older to gamble at the WinStar.
Q. Who owns the WinStar?
A. The Chickasaw Nation Indian Tribe owns and operates the resort, along with five other casinos including the Riverwind Casino in Norman. The tribal land consists of over 7,000 square miles in southern Oklahoma. Worldwide, there are over 70,000 members of Chickasaw Nation (per the Chickasaw Nation’s recent Governor’s report). Their headquarters is located in Ada, Oklahoma, 90 miles northeast of the WinStar.
(Steve Beauregard is a former contributor to PokerNews.com and has won four first place awards from the Colorado Press Association for column writing. Photos courtesy of the WinStar)