Casino Day Trips

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I like to gamble. There, I said it.

When I turned 21 and was finally able to visit casinos, I quickly learned that senior citizens also really like to gamble. I noticed this after taking a free shuttle bus from Chicago to the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN. Then, I really noticed this after going on a day trip up to Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Unlike one of the men on our trip to Milwaukee, I may not have been wearing a shirt that proudly read, “I heart to win.” But, I certainly enjoyed taking advantage of the great incentives that both casinos had to offer. Nearby Des Plaines may have just become home to Rivers Casino, but why not grab grandpa or grandma and enjoy an entire day mesmerized by the slot machine’s neon lights? Who knows, you may leave not only hearting to win, but, actually winning.

Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN

With the Chicago Skyway costing $7 round trip, not to mention the cost of gas, the Horseshoe’s free shuttle buses are a great deal. The casino offers daily free shuttle service from over twenty Chicago locations. Shuttles run regularly, usually starting at 8:30 a.m. and running through 11:00 p.m.

To utilize the shuttle service you have to have one of the casino’s free, Total Rewards card. Once you arrive at the Horseshoe, if you don’t have a card, the casino employee greeting you at the bus will give you a receipt. You’ll take that receipt to the Total Rewards desk and exchange it for a return ticket, and register for a card. Your card, based on the amount of money you spend gambling, accumulates points that earn you coupons for free slot play and gifts.

Even free transportation comes with a price and, with the Horseshoe, that price is your time. Once you arrive at the casino, they give you a return ticket. Your return ticket is stamped with a time. The time on your ticket indicates the earliest bus you can catch home. Basically, you’re required to be at the Horseshoe for at least 3 hours. So, I suggest you bring a book and head upstairs to the casino’s coffee shop. Three hours may seem like a short period of time but, not if you’re losing. Be sure to hold on to your ticket because, if you lose it, they charge you $20.

Home to the Venue, an entertainment arena that holds 3,500 guests, the Horseshoe packs in some big-name comedians and musical acts. The shuttle service is particularly useful if you’re planning on attending a show at the Venue. The concerts end between 10 and 10:30 p.m., giving you enough time to catch the last shuttle back into the city. This allows for plenty of drinking by everyone in your party.

Another huge plus — the shuttle service is extremely accommodating. If one of their pick-up locations doesn’t work for you, call them up and ask them if they can make a special stop to pick you up. Four and I did that for a concert we attended and it worked out great.

Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, WI

Unlike the Horseshoe, transportation to the Potawatomi Casino isn’t exactly “free.” Round-trip transportation costs $14 per person. However, you do receive $10 in free slot play and a $10 food credit that can be redeemed at any of the casino’s eateries.

The $10 food credit covers the cost of the casino’s lunch buffet. It’s no Gibson’s, but the buffet does have a wide selection of options ranging from Chinese food to Italian, and some above average desserts. There are a variety of tours and departure points, but the bus I took left from the Denny’s parking lot on Harlem Avenue in Harwood Heights at 8:00 a.m. on a Wednesday.

If there’s one thing I love more then the penny Sex in the City slot machines, it’s Bingo. That’s why I was excited to take a day trip out to the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. Unlike the Horseshoe, Potawatomi, as its name suggests, has an enormous Bingo hall. Playing Bingo at the casino is, in comparison to the tables and other slots, cheap. Therefore, I shouldn’t have been surprised when we arrived smack in the middle of a game and were unable to join in the next one because of our departure time. After visiting the casino, I saw that their website does offer specific Bingo trips leaving from Chicago — so if you’re interested, check that out.

Like Chicago’s gone, but never forgotten, Kiddie Land Amusement Park, Potawatomi offers free unlimited fountain drinks throughout the casino! Still, the best part of the trip had to be the promotion that Potawatomi had for Illinois residents. At the time of my visit, if you gambled over $50, you received a $50 Shell Gas gift card. The promotion has since ended, but check the casino’s website for similar offers and plan your trip around one so you get the most bang for your buck.

Besides the disappointment of conveniently arriving so you can’t play Bingo, you should know that this trip is an all-day affair. We arrived just after 10:00 a.m. and didn’t leave Potawatomi until 3:15 p.m.. After we made our other drop offs, we didn’t arrive back to the Denny’s parking lot until well after 5:00 p.m..

For more information and to reserve your seat:

Horseshoe Casino: website

Potawatomi Bingo Casino: website, 847.622.7496

Erin Nederbo

About Erin Nederbo

Erin is a current writing major at Columbia College and a native of Chicago's Jefferson Park. Surrounded by Cubbie blue, she is often hassled by friends for being a White Sox fan. During winter, she keeps warm by eating Italian beef, dreaming of 16 inch softball, and reading Sandra Cisneros. Her creative writing can be found in Hair Trigger 33 Magazine.

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