Sunday, November 22, 2009

Test your luck at Ozarks casinos

Unless you're a hunter or winter angler, the seasons for most popular outdoor recreation in the Ozarks is nearing an end.
But there's a baker's dozen of assorted options for indoor fun within easy reach of Springfield.
No, not museums. Not football games. Not holiday shopping excursions.
It's gambling -- with the added attraction of live music, golf and great eats.
Thirteen casinos of the Indian nation are just over the border in Oklahoma.
And if you've never taken this one-tank gamble on rambling westward-ho, you might be surprised at the entertainment value it guarantees, in more ways that just wagering for a bonus roll on the slots or a good poker hand.
They also offer live rock, bluegrass and country music performances --often with marquee names --and memorable overnight or weekend stays, fine-dining and a new golf course to tackle.
Then again, you may just want to ante-up some cash for a possible return on your money.
It's all there - just across the border.
Bright lights
While most every casino in the mix offers a mix of happy times, laughter, lights and whoopla, the Quapaw tribe's several-million-dollar Downstream Casino that opened in mid-2008 is a popular stop.
Settled near the Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma borders -- about an hour and a half from Springfield on a direct I-44 route -- Downstream introduced Las Vegas style to the region.
Its lighted 12-story hotel can be seen from I-44 and for miles on the inroads from all three states, and it offers dazzling lights, a mega-selection of restaurant, bar-lounge, slots and table games upon entry.
"We wanted to deliver the most exciting machines to this area and another challenge was to give people who entered the casino, the best gazing experience," says Bob Maritz, slot director at Downstream.
"We wanted people to be taken back by the entrance experience. In other words, when players come into a casino, they can stand anywhere, see the chorus of opportunities and go 'Wow,' because it's all about achieving that 'Wow experience.
Several of the casino venues offer up live musical entertainment on a weekly (some every day, others weekend or designated-day-only) schedule for their guests.
Some of them, in addition to the weekly live musical performances, cameo top-name-star on-tour concerts. Downstream, for example, featured Jewel in early November and Buffalo Run has Miranda Lambert on its concert bill for Dec. 5.
Both Downstream Casino and Resort and Grand Lake Casino offer opportunities for the folks in your group who might prefer to slice it on the course rather than dice it in the casino.
The overnight getaway
Buffalo Run Casino sports a hotel and if you are a Player's Club member, you can get a quite frequent discount on the price of an overnight stay; and Downstream Casino and Resort offers a Web site discount on an extended stay.
Mary Morris, of Miller said she enjoys her stays at Downstream and Shelby Sears of Springfield, wouldn't trade the super-stay at Buffalo Run.
Casual eats and fine dining
Almost every casino in this northeast Oklahoma mix offers some sort of snack/concession/casual eats relief, if you're looking for the ultimate in a novel fine-dining experience, head for Buffalo Run's Coleman House Restaurant, Stable's Club House Restaurant, Bordertown's Sisters Restaurant, High Winds' Sports Grille, Wyandotte's Twin Bridges Restaurant, Grand Lake Casino's End Zone Restaurant or Downstream's Red House Steakhouse

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