Before you start trying to find the best casinos at Lake Tahoe, you need to know where they are. Lake Tahoe's geography straddling two states makes that harder than you might think.
The California/Nevada state line divides Lake Tahoe in half from north to south. Gambling is legal only in Nevada, which means all Lake Tahoe casinos are in that state, but close enough to the state line that you can stay in one state and gamble in the other.
So what's the problem, you're probably thinking. Don't I just go to the east side of the lake to find the casinos? In theory, the answer is yes, but no one talks about the lake that way. Instead, they think of it as north and south. You will find casino at towns on the Nevada side of the lake in North Lake Tahoe or in the town of Stateline, Nevada at South Lake Tahoe.
It would take you 45 minutes to drive from one of those locations to the other, so your choice of casinos at Lake Tahoe depends on where you're staying.
Best Casinos at South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is more developed than the north shore. The casinos are bigger on the south shore and many of them are newer. You'll also find more things to do nearby. You can walk in the main business area for a little shopping and catch the gondola lift to Heavenly ski resort in the middle of town, too.
These casinos are close together along US Hwy 50:
- Harrah's South Lake Tahoe ☆☆☆: The other best-rated South Tahoe casino has an 18-story, 500-room hotel, a spa, nightclub and big-name entertainment.
- Harvey's Lake Tahoe ☆☆☆ : One of the oldest Lake Tahoe casinos, it's now owned by Caesars. The complex includes a hotel and casino and several restaurants and small eateries. It hosts a summer outdoor concert series and has a wedding chapel.
- Hard Rock Hotel and Casino ☆☆: One of the two best-rated South Tahoe casinos, they have lots of slot machines and table games, a Hard Rock Hotel with more than 500 rooms, restaurants, and bars. They also boast the largest outdoor pool experience in South Lake Tahoe. Live entertainment options include a summer concert series.
- Montbleu Resort Casino ☆☆: Their hotel has more than 400 rooms and suites, and the casino offers all the standard gambling options. They say they have Lake Tahoe’s Only Four Diamond Restaurant. The event calendar features concerts that often include famous groups from the 1970s and 80s like Three Dog Night or Foreigner. Their 12th-floor wedding chapel has excellent views of Lake Tahoe. Visitors say it's older but adequate.
A little further north, just past the Edgewater golf course is:
- Lakeside Inn and Casino ☆☆☆☆: This Lake Tahoe casino calls itself "the local's place." Despite what the name implies, they are not on the "lakeside" but a few blocks away. They offer weekly classes to teach the fundamentals of their table games, and they claim to have the best odds at Tahoe. The hotel is pet-friendly.
Best Casinos at North Lake Tahoe
These North Lake Tahoe casinos are in the towns of Crystal Bay and Incline Village, Nevada, located along Hwy 28.
North Tahoe is more rustic than the south shore and is closer to I-80, Squaw Valley, and Northstar Ski Resort. You'll find fewer shops and restaurants, and it's not pedestrian-friendly.
- Crystal Bay Club☆☆☆☆: They offer all the standards: slots and table games. They also have a small hotel with ten rooms and sometimes host music events.
- Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Casino☆☆☆☆: By far the best-rated place on the north shore. Besides the casino, there's a 400-plus-room hotel with a spa and a private beach with fire pits. You can plan a wedding there and choose from several beautiful spots to hold the ceremony, including a private beach. Located in the town of Incline Village.
- Tahoe Biltmore☆☆: Located in Crystal Bay, the Biltmore has been around since 1946. Besides the casino and hotel, they have a large ballroom for big events. Visitors give it an average rating, and some say it's a little old and worn, but nice.
- Cal-Neva Resort: Cal-Neva has the distinction of straddling the California/Nevada state line in Crystal Bay. Is also has an ongoing mystique that includes its past as a hideaway for Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack pals. It has been under renovation since 2013 and in bankruptcy since 2016.
What to Expect at Lake Tahoe Casinos
At most Lake Tahoe casinos, you'll find slot machines, poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, and sports betting. All of them also have a player's club, designed to keep you playing in their casino by offering discounts, gaming credits and special offers.
You don't have to stay in a casino hotel to experience the casino (although of course, they want you to) and you may find another, non-gaming hotel nearby is a better value and quieter.