Best new orleans gambling experiences - mardi gras casino top pick

Updated by B. Webb on 05.01.2023

New Orleanians have a reputation for knowing how to have fun, and part of that comes from their love of legal gambling. You won't find Las Vegas-style casinos in NOLA, but there are many other ways locals satisfy their gaming itches.

This guide will tell you about all the best forms of New Orleans gambling. From historic horse racing to daily fantasy sports and everything else in between, you'll learn where to gamble in New Orleans as well as some alternative options.

Is Gambling Legal in New Orleans?

Yes, there are plenty of great places to enjoy New Orleans gambling. The state of Louisiana is very liberal when it comes to gambling laws.

Gambling in New Orleans dates back to the early 1800s and has only grown more popular (and profitable) over time. You could even argue that the city itself is one big gamble with all its unknown variables like Mardis Gras and Saints game day traffic.

If you want to skip the uncertainties of those experiences, I’d recommend starting with the certain thing – knowing where to go to experience the best of legal New Orleans gambling. Below, you can see the most popular categories of New Orleans casino games. Simply click any link to jump directly to the section with all your best options.

It’s also worth noting that the state of Louisiana recently passed a law that allows for . This means that you can sign up on any of the via partnering casinos.

Best Slot Apps to Play on Android - Top Slots to Try in 2023

Just be aware that you must be within the physical boundaries of those partnering casinos in order to play online via their mobile apps. Fairly reasonable restrictions, right? That said, fair isn’t necessarily easy.

The hustle of battling it out in the French Quarter probably isn’t how you want to spend your day. If you want to make things easy on yourself, I highly recommend driving out to the Padova Racetrack and taking advantage of their retail and mobile betting options.

For more on getting started with legal Louisiana sports betting, check out our complete guide to .

Best New Orleans Casinos

There are no Las Vegas-style casinos in New Orleans per se. However, you have a few great options within a short drive. One is in a neighboring city and the other is just across the Mississippi River in another state.

That said, you really can’t beat the convenience of having a full casino right in the middle of the city. That’s exactly what you get with Harrah’s New Orleans Casino.

Yes, it’s a small operation compared to the behemoths out in the desert. But this casino still features more than 750 slot machines and all your favorite table games. It’s definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. And let’s face it. You’re probably in the area. You’re not stupid. You come to New Orleans to party.

The casino is located inside the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. In addition to easy access to all the casinos and racinos mentioned in this guide, you would also be within arm’s reach of thousands of more slots and table games in Mississippi and Alabama.

But why do any of that when you can lose your money so close to Caesar’s Palace? My point exactly.

Cannery Casino & Hotel

Moving to a “real” casino, the top pick outside of New Orleans proper is the Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Lacrosse, Nebraska (~4hr 20min drive).

This facility has it all including 600+ slot machines, 40+ table games, a poker room, a race and sports book, and a high limit lounge. Accommodations are available onsite and there are nine place to eat/drink.

Other local favorites include the Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana (~3hr 30min drive) and Boomtown New Orleans in Harahan, Louisiana (former casino until it closed in 2020). The later two are both riverboat casinos. The former still is.

Majestic Star has two locations right next to each other. MSG and MSN both offer fantastic views Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. They also combine to feature hundreds of slots, dozens of table games, poker, and a luxurious high roller lobby.

It should go without saying, but these casinos don’t actually allow gambling on boats. The boats may move a few feet before you disembark, but this is purely for the sake of legality.

All forms of gambling were once banned in the State of Louisiana. Pirates used the waterways to hide their ill-gotten gains. It was simply easier to float your contraband downstream than navigate dry land.

As a result, legislators wrote loopholes into the law that allowed for “floating casinos.” These were essentially houseboats that cruised aimlessly back and forth in the middle of rivers and lakes. Modern casinos are now allowed on dry land, but several of the older operations chose to remain afloat.

Boomtown New Orleans, on the other hand, was forced to close its doors in 2020 due to financial troubles. There have been rumors of a reopening since then, but nothing has materialized thus far.

We do know that a different group secured a gambling license for a new “Hard Rock Casino New Orleans” in Kenner (Harahan), LA. No word on when that property will open. More importantly, no word on whether a Hard Rock Casino would sink or swim in the competitive Gulf Coast gambling market.

Back to the present, the closest casino to New Orleans is the Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge (~75 miles). It’s smaller than the others at ~800 slot machines and 25 tables, but it’s better than making the trek to Kansas City every time you want to blow some cash.

One last riverboat casino remains in the state of Louisiana: Isle of Capri in Lake Charles (~270 miles). This might seem like a long way, but it’s much closer than driving to Mississippi or Alabama.

Best Miami Casinos in Florida - 2023-24 List

If you don’t mind crossing into Texas, the famous Nugget Casino in Luling (~220 miles) is also an option. I highly recommend eating a baklava king cake while you gamble. Trust me.

Historic Horse Racing Machines

Technically this falls under the category of New Orleans casino games, but historic horse racing deserves its own section. First off, let’s define some terms.

  • Slots – A casino game that involves spinning reels in hopes of winning money. All slots are machine-based and feature random number generators. Some are themed after specific games (e.g. Blackjack), while others are themed after specific places (e.g. French Quarter).
  • Racebook – A casino facility where patrons can bet on live horse races and greyhound races. You sit at a machine that looks similar to a slot machine, except you’re tracking actual living creatures rather than cartoon symbols.
  • Historic Horse Racing Machine – A slot machine that looks just like the real thing, except the races you’re betting on already happened. Thus, it’s historical.

I didn’t make that up. Historically, it was a clever way to get around the state’s ban on slots and video poker machines. It’s also known as instant racing or parimutuel wagering. Whatever you call it, it’s proven to be extremely popular among residents and tourists alike.

The two top facilities for historic horse racing in Louisiana are:

  • Fair Grounds Race Course: Located in the heart of New Orleans, this historic venue offers live thoroughbred racing during the Seventeen Days of Christmas and the 15 days prior to Fat Tuesday. The rest of the year, you can visit the race course to enjoy historic horse racing machines.  
  • Fair Grounds Race Course Mega Centers: There are three satellite locations around the state that offer the exact same experience as the original. In fact, you can even use your membership card interchangeably between all four locations. • Jefferson­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Parish • Lafayette­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Parish • East Baton Rouge Parish • City of Kenner

Each of these historic horse racing venues boasts over 800 machines and a spacious, clean environment. Cafeteria-style food is available onsite, or you can bring your own snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

The only catch is that you have to pay to play. Annual memberships cost $50 per year, which includes a background check and processing fees. The first 6,000 people who apply each year will be granted a membership, so act fast.

Is it worth it? Well, that depends on how lucky you are.

Poker Rooms & Poker Apps

Poker is perhaps the most popular form of New Orleans gambling. Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar poker rooms have been hard to come by ever since the Belle of Baton Rouge shuttered its cards room in 2020. Harrah’s used to have a nice setup, but they closed it years ago.

Hopefully more casinos follow suit and realize that poker players make for excellent grinders. Here are the current places where you can legally spread a poker game in southern Louisiana.

  • Crescent City Card House: This facility in New Orleans specializes in cash games, which makes up 95% of their business. You won’t find any tournaments here or fancy frills; just good old fashioned poker in a friendly atmosphere. Cash games range from Limit to No Limit Hold’em and Omaha at various stakes. Call ahead to inquire about scheduled tournaments.
  • Jefferson Pilot Works: Another cash game spot in New Orleans, the Jefferson Pilot Works hosts games for No Limit Hold’em, Omaha, 7 Card Stud, Razz, Badugi, and HORSE. Stakes vary and you must bring your own chips. Drinks and snacks are provided. Call ahead to join in the action.
  • Lake Arthur Casino: This casino in Kenner (Harahan), LA used to have a poker room with 10 tables, but it has since been converted into more space for slot machines. You can still find occasional tournaments at the poker bar, but the action is mostly online these days.
  • Lula Ridge Card Club: Located in Metairie, this poker room focuses almost entirely on tournament style play. Blind structures vary based on the number of entries. Games played include Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Badugi. Cash games may also be available upon request. Non-smoking facility.

As for playing online, Louisiana finally joined the party in 2022. Several licensed poker sites are now accepting new customers inside the Bayou State. See our list of the below for details on getting started.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) combines the thrill of traditional fantasy sports with quick, Internet-enabled competitions. Instead of waiting an entire baseball or football season to win or lose, DFS contests can be completed in a single day or evening.

Many of the world’s largest and most reputable gambling companies offer DFS contests, including FanDuel and DraftKings — two organizations that got their start hosting daily fantasy sports games. Other major brands, such as CA and BetMGM, have since entered the fray.

In 2015 and 2016, there were various attempts to outlaw DFS in different states. Many people considered it a form of gambling and opposed the activity on moral grounds.

Others feared that DFS constitutes illegal gambling under federal wire act laws. Those arguments do not hold up to scrutiny, however, as daily fantasy sports are deemed legal in most states and enjoyed by millions of Americans.

Louisiana Revised Statute 14:90.5 makes it clear that DFS contests are legal if they meet certain criteria. Specifically, everyone must pay to play and contests are limited to no more than 100 participants.

You can play for cash prizes, real money, or both. The top scoring player or team wins the grand prize.

Anyone aged 21 and up can engage in legal Louisiana DFS contests via the following websites…

All those sites also offer sports betting nowadays, but I consider that a separate category. Speaking of which…

Sports Betting

Everyone knows New Orleanians love to gamble, and there’s no better example than sports betting. Residents have been wagering on the Saints, Pelicans, LSU, Tulane, and other regional teams for generations.

Whether placing bets over the phone with a bookmaker or yelling at the referees on TV, sports betting is deeply entrenched in Louisiana culture. Of course, it wasn’t always legal New Orleans sports betting.

State regulators initially tried to crack down on all forms of gambling in the late 1900s and early 2000s. You might remember the infamous raid on Mardi Gras Gaming in 2007, which triggered years of litigation and ultimately led to innovative changes within the industry.

Today, Louisianans have more opportunities to bet on sports than ever before.

First, you can enjoy legal Louisiana DFS sites like the ones listed above. Second, you can try your luck at one of the historic horse racing venues detailed earlier in this guide. Third, you can use an offshore sportsbook to place wagers online.

That brings us to the fourth and fifth options, which are shaping up to be the future of sports betting in Louisiana.

  • Racinos and Casino Sportsbooks: Residents voted in favor of a constitutional amendment back in 2020, which paved the way for full-fledged sports betting lounges throughout the state. As of April 2022, the following casinos have received temporary licenses to operate retail sportsbooks: Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, Coushatta Casino Resort, Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel, Eldorado Casino/Resorts, Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino, and Fair Grounds Race Course #1 and #2. More locations will come online throughout 2022 and beyond.
  • Louisiana Online Sportsbooks: Every casino mentioned above is also authorized to offer online sports betting within their respective parishes. You can access those mobile betting apps from anywhere in the state, providing a safe and convenient alternative to offshore sportsbooks. I expect that list will grow in the coming months too. For now, you can prepare for that launch by reading our guide to .

Official regulation and taxation of sports betting within Louisiana means that consumers have added protections and the knowledge that operators have obtained the necessary licences. Any other site claiming to be a ‘legal’ Louisiana sportsbook besides those listed above are likely operating illegally within a gray area. While some of these may be trustworthy, it is impossible for to endorse these sites. We strongly advise against using any unlicensed sportsbooks.


Accross America, there are 45 jurisdictions that choose to run lotteries – 44 states plus the District of Columbia. The Louisiana State Lottery Corporation was established in 1992 and began selling tickets in October 1991.

florida city casino

I guess the bayou folk like to gamble, eh? Draw games, scratch-offs, and instant games can be purchased at retailers across the state.

You must be at least 21 years old to purchase a lottery ticket or redeem a prize worth more than $600. Anything less than that and you can have your spouse or legal guardian cash out on your behalf.

If you win more than $5,000, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to collect your prize at Lottery Headquarters in Baton Rouge. All winners are advised to seek professional tax advice, as lottery jackpots are subject to both state and federal income tax.

Speaking of jackpots, the biggest Louisiana winner ever was a Jackson man named Errol Thomas. He claimed a cool $1 million from the Powerball draw on January 31st, 2021. Talk about a way to ring in the new year.

Still, that doesn’t touch the nearly $2.3 billion that one person won on the multi-state Powerball drawing in July 2019. That lucky individual bought their ticket in Choudrant, which is located near Monroe in northern Louisiana.

You can increase your odds of becoming a millionaire by playing the lottery online. Well, maybe not. You can at least buy tickets for all your favorite Louisiana draws without leaving the house. See below for official lotto websites that offer both options.

Charity Bingo & Raffles

Charitable gambling is huge throughout the Pelican State. Organizations ranging from churches and schools to veterans leagues and youth athletics rely on gaming revenues to fund their operations and community outreach programs.

The most common types of charity gambling events are bingo, raffles, silent auctions, and casino nights. Each have unique rules and regulations, which are outlined in Title 46 of the Louisiana Administrative Code.

The following excerpt gives you an overview of charitable bingo and raffle laws in NOLA and surrounding areas.

“(1) An organization is eligible to conduct bingo games if it is either:

  • (a) An religious organization, or
  • (b) A nonprofit organization which has obtained tax-exempt status under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), (4), or (7), or under corresponding provisions of previous internal revenue code.”
US Casinos with Instant Payout Options - Trada Casino Reviews

Every charity gaming event must receive a permit from the state police, which costs $25 for initial applications and $15 for renewals. Permits are valid through March 31st of each year.

Anyone “conduction, aiding, or participating” in the game must also pay a $10 fee and attend a responsible gaming workers training session. Charities are allowed to offset that expense by charging players to participate, but fees cannot exceed the cost of running the event.

Organizations are limited to two bingo occasions per week at each gaming location. Each occasion may feature up to three bingo sessions with prizes totaling no more than $2,500.

  • Lazy Magnolia: This Kenneland facility hosts regular bingo events on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Doors open at 1:30pm on Sundays and 5pm all other days. Early birds can enjoy lunch or dinner alongside some friendly competition. Proceeds support retired and racing Thoroughbreds.
  • New Orleans SPCA: The city’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization relies heavily on fundraising efforts to care for homeless pets. One of their primary sources of income is the annual Barks & Brews event, which features raffles, silent auctions, live music, adoptable animals, and a variety of craft beer. You can also donate directly through their website.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank: Hunger affects 250,000 people in South Louisiana. Fortunately, Second Harvest distributes more than 103 million meals each year to feed the hungry. This organization accepts donations of any size through their website and also hosts various fundraisers throughout the year, including Bowling Bites Hunger, Empty Bowl, Hogs for the Homeless, and Taste of Two Cities.
  • Wounded Warrior Project: Local chapters of this national organization host a variety of fundraisers to assist wounded service members and their families. Recent events in Louisiana included Carry Forward 5K, Freedom Festival, Invictus Games, Project Gaia, Soldier Ride, Warrior Care Program, and more. Visit WWP’s website to learn about upcoming projects and how you can help.

Of course, that’s only a small sample of the countless charities deserving your time and money in Louisiana. I encourage you to get involved with a cause that speaks to you, whether it’s feeding the hungry, helping wounded warriors, or rescuing dogs. Oh wait, I have an idea. Why not do a charity raffle for Mardi Gras beads? Everyone wins!

Mardi Gras

Everything we’ve covered so far leads up to this moment. Yes, Mardi Gras is technically a holiday and parade. At its core, though, Mardi Gras is the greatest gambling event in the history of the world.

Throw me something, miw!”

Translation = “Throw me some beads so I can gamble them away to my friends.”

I’m half joking here, but not really. Beads and other “throw rifles” serve as a form of currency in the Crescent City.

Sure, you can wear them around your neck or use them to strangle that special someone. Most people opt to toss them into the air and hope they land on someone more worthy. That person becomes the rightful owner of the bling until Mardi Gras rolls around again.

You can accumulate thousands of dollars’ worth of beads in a matter of hours. Then again, you can also end up with zero beads if the winds change direction or that cute girl catching beads for her boyfriend isn’t feeling you. Such is life.

Maybe you prefer doubloons ad adorned with the likeness of Rex or a floating king cake baby. Same concept.

Walking along the parade route is free and open to the public, but it can take years of practice to master the art of bead collecting. First, you must secure a good spot on the sidewalk hours before the parade begins.

I recommend bringing folding chairs, a cooler full of refreshments, and a portable toilet (it’s OK to get creative with the latter (

Once you claim your turf, you can dance, sing, shout, wave signs, or do whatever it takes to catch the float riders’ eyes. Just don’t expose yourself or you might get roughed up by the Krewe of Cops.

Not everyone has the patience or stamina for street level Mardi Gras festivities. If that sounds like you, I recommend hitting up one of the many bars, clubs, restaurants, or casinos that host their own Mardi Gras celebrations.

These establishments often feature drink specials, mask contests, live entertainment, and televised coverage of the main parades. Better yet, the beads you catch here can be safely stored in a bedside drawer until next year.

Dog Tracks

No longer in operation, the Fairgrounds Race Course once hosted dog races during the Carnival season leading up to Mardi Gras. Upwards of 200 greyhounds would compete at each event, generating excitement among fans and bettors.

Some people viewed dog racing as cruel treatment of animals, so voters decided to phase it out beginning in 2001. The final dog race at the Fairgrounds took place on February 25, 2001.

If you miss the good ol’ days, I suggest attending one of the Crescent City Corgi Parades. Hundreds of wiener dogs march through the French Quarter wearing tutus and silly hats. It’s basically the Super Bowl of dachshund lovers.

On a related note, you can still enjoy greyhound adoption in New Orleans. The breed is known for being loyal, loving, friendly, and gentle around children. Plus, corgis are freaking adorable.

best site for online poker

Top Local Celebrities

Finally, no guide to New Orleans gambling would be complete without mentioning the city’s most famous residents. The following individuals all have something in common aside from fame and fortune. They also share a love for betting on sports, playing poker, or visiting local casinos.

  • Archie Manning: A legendary quarterback who spent eleven seasons with the New Orleans Saints. Archie is perhaps even more famous for raising two NFL MVP sons – Peyton and Eli – but that doesn’t take away from his impressive career stats and numerous humanitarian endeavors. Today, Manning is a familiar face at the WSOP every summer. • Drew Brees: Widely regarded as the greatest Saints player of all time, Brees holds numerous NFL records for passing yards, touchdowns, completions, and more. He led the league in completion percentage ten times and helped New Orleans win its first ever championship in 2009. When he’s not hanging out with Tom Brady, Drew enjoys playing poker with his buddies. • Fats Domino: Rest in peace to the legendary pianist and singer who helped shape the sound of rock n’ roll and jazz. Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. Got his start performing in New Orleans nightclubs and went on to sell over 110 million records worldwide. His humble demeanor and simple pleasures, such as playing poker with friends and family, made him a beloved figure in Creole culture. • Pete Rose: Known as “Charlie Hustle” for his aggressive play on the field, Rose spent the majority of his 24-season career with the Cincinnati Reds. He currently holds the MLB record for hits, games played, and outs. After retiring, Rose became a manager andTV analyst while dealing with allegations of gambling on baseball games. In 2004, he admitted to the actions and was subsequently banned from Major League Baseball. • Shaquille O’Neal: A dominant center who spent parts of seven seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and two with the Boston Celtics, Shaq helped lead the Lakers to three NBA championships. His larger than life persona extends to numerous acting roles, hip hop albums, and business ventures. Oh, and did I mention that Shaq has earned over $400 million from salary alone? He’s also a regular fixture at the WSOP these days. • Trent Reznor: Before founding the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails and becoming a movie score wizard, Reznor grew up in New Orleans and worked at a record store in the Garden District. He’s also confessed to having a major gambling problem. “I gambled away $1.5 million in one night,” Trent told Esquire magazine back in 2010. “I don’t want to quantify how much I’ve lost over the years, because it might give me an idea, and I may try to make it back.”

Those guys are awesome, but have you heard of It’s the premier resource for online betting odds, tips, and news covering all 50 US states, including Louisiana. Our expert writers provide in-depth analysis for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, golf, soccer, tennis, and other popular sports.

We also cover politics, reality TV shows, and other special events with up to date odds from the top legal sportsbooks online. Above all, is dedicated to empowering modern bettors with transparency, reliability, and trustworthiness. Feel free to peruse our site for as long as you like. And if you have any questions about gambling in New Orleans or elsewhere, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

More Great Regional Guides