Offerings at casinos continue to reach new heights as they invest in infrastructure and top-tier talent. Variety’s inaugural Casino Entertainment Impact List looks at which gambling institutions are truly at the top of their game.
Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; the Show at Agua Caliente (capacity: 2,057). Recent and upcoming shows include Steve Martin & Martin Short, Mel Brooks, Sting & Shaggy, Jose Feliciano and Penn & Teller. “This is the best venue in the desert, with the best amenities and the best staff,” says Billy Brill, tribal gaming casino booker.
Barona Resort & Casino
Barona Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians; no onsite venue or entertainment; San Diego Union-Tribune Readers Poll names it Best Casino, Loosest Slots and Best Casino Buffet for eight straight years.
Cache Creek Casino Resort
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation; Club 88 (700). A $200 million expansion that started in May 2017 will add 459 more rooms, a multipurpose ballroom, a pool, restaurant and another event space that could accommodate up to 1,300. Performers include Jim Belushi, Ken Jeong, and 98 Degrees.
Chumash Casino Resort
Santa Ynez, Calif.
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; the Samala Showroom (1,400). Upcoming shows include Third Eye Blind, Los Tigres Del Norte; the showroom returned to its regular capacity after an expansion/renovation project was completed in May 2016.
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
Cabazon Band of Mission Indians; at the Special Events Center (3,700). Recent and upcoming shows include Boz Scaggs, TLC & En Vogue, Christina Aguilera, Rascal Flatts, Diana Krall, Paula Abdul, Tony Bennett; the Rock Yard (3,000) has featured AC/DC, Van Halen, Journey and Rolling Stones tribute bands as the “premiere rock venue in the desert.”
Mohegan Indian Tribe; Mohegan Sun Arena (10,000). Recent and upcoming shows include Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, Ozuna, Janet Jackson, Tony Bennett, Christina Aguilera, Florence & the Machine, Paul Anka, Josh Groban and Justin Timberlake; the on-site, 350-seat Wolf Den is an open-ended venue, which hosts live shows by the likes of Stone Sour, Ludacris, Killswitch Engage, Eddie Money, Slash, Warrant and Slaughter. There is also a 400-seat Cabaret Theater on the premises.
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
The Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians; the Morongo Ballroom (3,200). Recent and upcoming shows include the Mavericks & Los Lobos, Salt-N-Pepa, Boy George/Culture Club, Breakfast With the Beatles, “Hollywood Medium” Tyler Henry, Dennis Miller and Cheech & Chong.
Pala Casino Resort & Spa
Pala Band of Mission Indians; the Pala Starlight Theatre (2,250). The outdoor venue has recently hosted and will host shows by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, KC and the Sunshine Band and Billy Ocean. Other on-site venues include the more intimate Underground Wine Cave and the Pala Events Center.
Pechanga Resort & Casino
Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and Pechanga Development Corp.; Pechanga Theatre (1,200). Recent and upcoming shows include “Beauty and the Beast,” Boz Scaggs, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Paul Anka, Paula Abdul, Patti LaBelle, Trevor Noah and the Village People; Other on-site venues include the Comedy Club, the Eagle’s Nest Lounge and Nightclub and Kelsey’s Live Entertainment.
Red Hawk Casino
Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. Stage Bar features local bands including the Spazmatics, tribute band Skid Roses.
San Manuel Casino
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The casino sports a pair of on-site venues, including the rock-oriented Rock & Brews (Warrant, Berlin, Stryper are among the most recent bookings), and the genre-flavored Tukut Lounge, which hosts Salsa Tuesdays, Country Night and Latin Friday as well as live music.
Table Mountain Casino
The Table Mountain Rancheria; its on-site venue hosts a variety of events, including a recent Peter Frampton concert.
Talking Stick Resort
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community; Talking Stick Arena (18,422). This downtown Phoenix venue, which the casino has naming rights to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, has presented recent and upcoming shows by Journey & Def Leppard, the Eagles, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Buffett and System of a Down. The resort is closed for repairs after a series of storms over the summer caused a complete power outage at the property.
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
United Auburn Indian Community; Outdoor Amphitheatre (5,000). Recent and upcoming shows include Bill Burr, Billy Idol, Cheap Trick & Heart’s Ann Wilson, Tesla and “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Silicon Valley” actor Jimmy O. Yang. Pano Hall is a more intimate 900-seat venue also located inside the casino. Says representative Doug Elmets of tribal gaming: “They’re not only generating revenue for the tribes, but also for local economics and local government, while employing hundreds of thousands across the state.”
Valley View Casino & Hotel
Valley Center, Calif.
San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians; Valley View Casino Center (16,100). The casino has naming rights to the San Diego venue formerly known as the Sports Arena, where the Lakers will take on the Denver Nuggets in an NBA exhibition game on Sept. 30.
Viejas Casino & Resort
Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. The intimate Oak Ballroom (1,200) will host an upcoming concert by country music singer Lee Ann Womack, while the venue hosts Concerts in the Park on the Viejas grounds, with acts including Hank Williams Jr. and 38 Special.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa/the Music Box
Atlantic City, N.J.
MGM Resorts Intl.; 1,000-seat venue within the Borgata offers a more up-close experience, featuring a comedy club, burlesque show and comic Jay Mohr among its upcoming bookings.
Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Hampton Beach, N.H.
Owned by the Schaake family, this 2,200-seat venue, was originally opened in 1899, and has become a legendary rock ’n’ roll club. Recent events include concerts by Ziggy Marley, Ratt and Scotty McCreery.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s
club, operated by AEG Live, has a maximum capacity of 4,000. The newly refurbished venue opened in 2009 with an Avenged Sevenfold concert and in 2012 famously featured Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Democracy” residency, which kick-started the band’s live success. Upcoming shows include a Fetish and Fantasy Halloween Ball as well as concerts featuring Goo Goo Dolls (Nov. 10), Ghost (Nov. 17), Gary Allan (Dec. 14-15) and Tenacious D ringing in the New Year.
Voodoo Lounge Harrah’s Casino
North Kansas City, Mo.
Caesars Entertainment; this 1,600-capacity venue recently hosted Bullet for My Valentine and the Nirvana Tribute Band, Smells Like Teen Spirit, with Snow Patrol (Oct. 12), MAX (Oct. 26) and a Fleetwood Mac tribute, Landslide (Nov. 16) coming up next.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa Event Center
Atlantic City, N.J.
MGM Resorts Intl.; the Event Center (2,400 capacity). Recent shows included Sting & Shaggy and Method Man & Redman, plus Steve Aoki with RL Grime up next.
Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino
Windsor, Ont., Canada
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.; upcoming shows at the 5,000-capacity venue include Buddy Guy (Oct. 3) and Brian Wilson (Nov. 25).
Flamingo Las Vegas
Caesars Entertainment Corp.; Donny & Marie’s long-term residency here, which gives its name to the Donnie and Marie Showroom (2,400 capacity) is one of the most coveted tickets in town.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino River Event Center
Owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corp., the 3,000-seat venue hosted a recent show by Alison Krauss (Sept. 21) and an upcoming concert featuring Bush (Sept. 28).
Park Theater at Park MGM
MGM Resorts Intl.; the intimate 5,200-seat venue opened in December 2016 at the former Monte Carlo Resort and Casino and has turned into Sin City’s hottest site, with a recently completed residency by Queen + Adam Lambert and the eagerly anticipated Lady Gaga stint, which opens Dec. 28 with a 27-show slate that runs through the new year, as well as Aerosmith’s “Deuces Are Wild,” starting in April for its 50th anniversary. Britney Spears will also reportedly kick off a brand-new residency there in 2019 after her world tour.
Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel
Marian Ilitch, IH Gaming (Detroit Entertainment); the 2,400-capacity theater recently presented “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and comic Tracy Morgan, with upcoming shows by Eddie Griffin (Oct. 21), Third Eye Blind (Nov. 4), REO Speedwagon (Nov. 11), Bret Michaels (Dec. 26), Nelly (Dec. 27) and Cedric the Entertainer (Dec. 28) on tap.
South Shore Room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
Caesars Entertainment; this 750-seat showroom opened in 1959 with comedian Red Skelton, while Frank Sinatra Jr. was famously kidnapped after a performance there opening for legendary toastmaster Georgie Jessel. Upcoming concerts include Little River Band (Sept. 30), Styx (Oct. 5), Eric Burdon (Oct. 13), Night Ranger (Oct. 27), Andy Grammer (Nov. 3), Todd Rundgren (Nov. 17) and Abba tribute band Abbacadabra (Nov. 23-24).
The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Caesars Entertainment; the 4,298-seat venue was designed and built from the old Circus Maximus exclusively for Celine Dion’s groundbreaking 2003 A New Day… residency, and has since been home to similar stints by Bette Midler, Elton John, Cher, Rod Stewart, Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, the Who, Reba McIntyre and Brooks & Dunn and Jerry Seinfeld. Upcoming events include a Christina Aguilera concert (Oct. 27) as well as AC2: An Intimate Evening With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (Oct. 26).
The Theater at MGM National Harbor
Oxon Hill, Md.
MGM Resorts Intl.; the 3,000-seat venue just hosted shows by Smokey Robinson and Sting & Shaggy, with Christina Aguilera (Sept. 30), Maxwell (Oct. 4-5) and the Roy Orbison Hologram Tour (Oct. 29) on deck.
Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood
Caesars Entertainment; formerly the Axis Theater, this mid-sized venue (7,000 capacity, though it seats 4,600 for residencies) is the original home for Spears’ “Piece of Me” residency (which grossed $137.7 million for its four-year run) as well as Jennifer Lopez’s “All of Me,” Gwen Stefani’s “Just a Girl,” Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” and Lionel Richie’s “Just the Hits.”
Harrah’s Council Bluffs — Stir Concert Cove
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Caesars Entertainment; the 3,500-seater recently hosted shows by Pentatonix, Counting Crows & Live and Deep Purple & Judas Priest, with Blink-182 up next (Sept. 25).
Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys
Caesars Entertainment; this outdoor venue located on the grounds of Harveys Lake Tahoe in Nevada over the California border has a capacity of 9,300 with 7,500 reserved seats. Booked by San Francisco’s Another Planet Entertainment, the arena has become known for its annual Harveys Summer Concert Series. Dave Matthews Band recently performed, with September given over to a month of improv comedy.