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Best Casino

Harrah's

We like casinos with plenty of table games and lavish buffets that fill you up for less than a 10-spot, places where you don't have to wait for a seat at the $5 blackjack table, where a fresh drink is always at your elbow and the cocktail waitresses personify glamour. Unfortunately, we're far from Las Vegas, and so Harrah's will have to suffice. Like every other local gambling hall, this is a casino that would go broke in a New York minute if it were in Nevada -- the bathrooms are messy, waitresses push around beer carts that belong on airliners and the fastest way to get a soda is to pour it yourself from self-service beverage stations. The buffet is adequate but overpriced at $13, and there are only a handful of table games. But for most gamblers, especially those who prefer slots to live people, Harrah's is the choice, if only for its décor and the sheer number of one-armed bandits, equally divided between the building's two casinos -- one with a Caribbean theme, the other with a Mardi Gras motif. Between the two is a lobby built to resemble a small town that has nothing to do with the tropics or New Orleans -- think old-time rural Missouri. Adding to the architectural and thematic milieu are a steakhouse and a fancy Italian restaurant. It seems as though they put a bunch of ideas into a hat when they designed this place and built whatever got pulled out first. We like this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attitude. There's a really cool fish tank behind the bar on the Caribbean side and no fewer than three clocks -- yes, clocks in a casino -- in the lobby. There's no hint that this is supposed to be a riverboat. Built in a manmade moat to satisfy the letter of state law, there is nothing nautical about Harrah's, which is essentially a really big building with a really big parking lot, with no river in sight. There's also a humongous parking garage and a hotel.

 
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