13 of the Best Alternative Casinos in Las Vegas


Las Vegas is one of the craziest, but most exciting places in the world to visit, with its world famous casino hotels such as the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, the MGM Grand and the Wynn.

However, by its very nature, Vegas is likely to hit your finances hard, whether it’s on the slot machines or the roulette table.

For this reason, it could be a good idea to opt for one of the many budget-friendly alternatives on the Strip, leaving you with more money to enjoy the delights of Sin City!

You may be surprised at the amount of affordable but quality casinos which lie on and around the Las Vegas Strip, so we’re going to take a look at 13 of the best.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas

A lot of these hidden gem casinos are located in the Downtown Las Vegas area, about six miles north of the Strip, which is where we’re starting off, with the Golden Nugget.

The Golden Nugget is a true Vegas classic, having opened its doors in 1946, meaning it predates almost all of the modern casinos that you’ll see on the Strip.

Nowadays it’s still going strong, situated on the Fremont Street Experience, a bustling pedestrian shopping mall featuring a huge 460m long canopy screen.

The hotel itself is home to a number of bars and restaurants, two swimming pools and a popular nightclub, ‘Gold Diggers’.

A truly iconic example of ‘Old Vegas’, the Golden Nugget has moved with the times to offer the perfect mix of new and old, all at a budget price!

Fremont Hotel & Casino

Just over the road from the Golden Nugget, you’ll find the Fremont Hotel & Casino, with the Fremont Street Experience right on your doorstep.

Other attractions in the immediate area include the 12-storey high SlotZilla zip line, the Neon Museum, which houses a number of old Vegas signs, and the Binion’s Gambling Hall, where you can have your photo taken with $1,000,000!

The casino itself is standard Vegas fare with an impressive four restaurants and bars, as well as access to the rooftop pool at the nearby California Hotel, all at an affordable rate.

Flamingo Las Vegas

The Flamingo is officially the oldest hotel on the Strip, having opened in 1946, and is one of its most iconic features.

It features everything you’d expect from a top Vegas hotel, such as a number of restaurants, a huge casino floor and a number of shows including Donny & Marie Osmond.

There’s also a pool which is popular with the younger party crowd, a spa and even a wildlife habitat, featuring many exotic turtles, birds and fish (and flamingos of course!).

For some of the lowest fares on the Strip, look no further than the Flamingo Las Vegas!

Palms Casino Resort

The Palms has developed a reputation as one of the most hedonistic casinos in Vegas, pulling in a very young demographic and even the odd celebrity guest.

It’s known for its pool parties and nightlife, such as the famous Ghost Bar on the casino’s roof, the penthouse club Moon, and Rain nightclub.

One of the more modern ‘alternative’ casinos, the Palms is stylish and contemporary, and only a couple of minutes taxi ride from the Strip.

El Cortez

One of the lesser known, but best examples of ‘Old School’ Las Vegas is El Cortez, which was once owned by the infamous gangster Bugsy Siegel (if you haven’t heard the name, you will have done after a trip to Vegas!).

The casino seems to have retained the vintage 1940s feel of Siegel’s days, with its original façade still intact, and slot machines which still use real quarters instead of tokens, although thankfully you’re less likely to bump into a mobster these days, and the place has been brought up to date with a series of renovations.

Main Street Station Hotel & Casino & Brewery

Main Street Station is a casino and brewery rolled into one, and it’s also an absolute treasure trove of vintage antiques, which gives it a real charm.

Whether it’s the chandeliers from a Parisian opera house, the grand doors taken from the Kuwait Royal Bank, or the portions of the Berlin Wall which adorn the men’s toilets, there’s all manner of weird and wonderful things to discover at Main Street Station!

If you’re worried that it all feels a bit old fashioned, don’t worry the rooms have all been modernised to give you a nice place to relax after a day at the tables.

California

While it may be named after the nearby state of California, this casino rather surprisingly has a strong Hawaiian vibe and is a popular destination for residents of the Aloha State.

The relaxed vibe and colourful Hawaiian shirts make it one of the most chilled out casinos in town, with its own rooftop pool and it’s only a block or so away from the Fremont Street Experience.

Also, check out the ‘Graveyard Specials’ menu at the Market Street Café for some cheap but cheerful grub!

Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall

Sound familiar? That might be because the Las Vegas band The Killers named their second album after this wild west themed hotel on Boulder Highway about six miles east of the Strip.

Sam’s Town is more popular amongst locals and regulars than some of the more mainstream casinos, making it a great people watching spot.

Attractions include an 18-screen cinema, 24-hour Bowling Center with 56 lanes, and even an ‘indoor park’, the Mystic Falls, a unique and slightly bizarre feature which has a laser light and water show three times a night.

Red Rock Resort

If you’re willing to head a little way out of town, towards the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, this is a casino made for locals, not tourists, but with the splendour and luxury of anything you’re likely to find on the Strip.

The striking crimson and orange colour scheme is reminiscent of the nearby rock formations, and there’s also an impressive chain of over 3,000,000 Swarovski and Preciosa crystals measuring over 99 miles throughout the casino, as well as a 7,000 seat outdoor amphitheatre.

Primm Valley Resorts

In truth, you’re unlikely to visit this group of three casinos unless you’re making the drive up from California, as they’re located slap bang in the middle of the desert, right as you cross the border over into Nevada, but they’re definitely worth a mention!

Primm Valley, Buffalo Bill’s and Whiskey Pete’s are a great pit stop if you are on a road trip, and feature a golf course, shopping mall, roller coaster and ever a 6,500 seat arena. A real desert oasis!

Plaza Hotel & Casino

Another Downtown casino which is worth a mention is the Plaza, located right on the western end of Fremont Street.

Much like the other Downtown casinos, the Plaza benefits from being in an area that’s experiencing a real upswing, and it’s also home to one of the best steakhouses in Vegas, Oscar’s, with its famous circular dining room which overlooks Fremont Street.

Aliante

It’s a bit of a drive away from the Strip, but if you ever find yourself in North Las Vegas, be sure to check out Aliante.

This modern casino is known for its outdoor pool area, where you can enjoy the soft sounds of jazz under the stars, and its range of restaurants, including MRKT, for steak and seafood, Bistro 57 for more casual fare and FARM, a 24/7 farm-to-table café which serves up the best fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island is located about a mile off the Strip, and is another favourite of locals, who come for the cheap gaming and rowdy karaoke nights!

It’s also home to its own brewery (which perhaps explains the lively atmosphere!), but the real reason we recommend it is the great food menu, with some of the best BBQ food in Vegas, at surprisingly fair prices.