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What to Wear to the Casino


Before your next trip to the casino you might ponder just what to wear. When I lived at Lake Tahoe, the winters were severe enough to warrant wearing the warmest clothes I had, including snow boots, gloves and a heavy coat. Without that coat I would have froze walking the three blocks from my house, the 18 degree wind and snow blowing against my face.

The problem with the snow get-up was what to do with it once I got to the casino! Fortunately, Harrah's Lake Tahoe casino had a coat-check during the winter months and I could doff my coat and enjoy the surroundings. There is also an underground walkway between Harrah's and Harvey's, so if you get comfortable at one casino, you can get to the other without bundling-up again. I've also used the coat check at the Hyatt at Incline Village.

Worth a Phone Call

Unfortunately, coat-checks come and go, so whether you are heading out in the weather to Mystic Lake, Foxwoods, or Casino Niagara, you might call ahead and adjust your outerwear a bit. Parking could have an impact on your choice. If there is a PORTE COCHERE with valet parking, you might get away with a skimpy jacket you can leave in the car.

If you are overseas, especially in Europe, you should know that many casino demand a coat and tie for men, evening wear for women. You don't have to dress in a tux like James Bond, but you'll have to look presentable. For you globe-trotters, there are also many casinos that are run like private clubs and you need to pay a fee to join, or enter for the evening. Years ago you couldn't even gamble the first day, you had to wait until the following day. Use the phone!

If you are walking the Vegas Strip (in a non-prostitute way) you will see gamblers in all types of garb. In fact, I've seen guys playing craps in the casino with swim trunks on. Now that's never a pretty sight, and the clubs are fancier now (no, I'm not thinking of the El Cortez), but there are some trends in dressing, if you will.

The Fancy Clubs

Las Vegas casinos like the Bellagio and the Venetian don't have dress codes, but because the rooms and meals are considerably more expensive than other properties, they tend to have players who are likely to be dressed-up for their evening of gambling and dining. You'll feel out of place in your Bermuda shorts and sandals at the Mirage, Ceasars, and the Wynn, but nobody will think you are out of place at the Imperial or Bally's.

Other casinos are in-between. I tried to eat at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in my sandals and had to buy a pair of socks and hope nobody really looked at my feet. It worked, but the meal was $250, so I'm not sure who fooled who. But the point is that Vegas at night, on the Strip, is going to have a mixture of dress styles, but the nicer clubs attract a nicer crowd (read: money) and they dress better. You don't want to feel out of place.

If you are in Laughlin, Carson City, Pahrump or Elko, anything goes. Laughlin has an older crowd and you'll see plenty of men in shorts during the 110 degree summer months, but that doesn't mean any of them will have tan legs!

Cowboy Country

Northern Nevada has long been cowboy country. The towns of Carson City, Elko, Winnemucca, and even Reno were built around farming and ranch land, so there are plenty of people who still walk around with cowboy hats. The number is dropping, though.

In the 1980's, Reno's casinos still had pit bosses walking around in boots and western suits, but the town has tried to upgrade its image a bit. Certainly you don't need to be dressy at Boomtown or the Cal-Neva, and a cowboy hat doesn't make you mess, or a cowboy, but casinos like the Silver Legacy and Eldorado have built nice resorts and attract a nice group of players.

Friday and Saturday nights will bring a mixture of dress styles, and believe me, jeans are fine, but you can dress up a bit and feel right at home. Of course summer evenings in Reno are likely to be 80 degrees, but on many winter nights the snow flies, and you'll either want to stay at one property, or dress for the 20 degree weather.

On the other hand, if you are at the Eldorado, you can stay inside and travel, because three properties are connected - the Eldorado, Silver Legacy, and Circus Circus. If you have kids, Circus Circus has a huge arcade and carnival games with circus acts. What you save on your rooms you can put towards quarters for the arcade!

On the Boardwalk

When Resorts casino first opened on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1978, I am told that most players were in suit and tie and formal wear. Thank goodness things have changed. After virtually minting money at the club for several years, the number of properties along the Jersey Shore grew and new avenues of marketing included plenty of bus junkets - day trips, with players from all places on the economic scale.

Dress comfortably is my best advice. If you plan to walk the Boardwalk, remember that even the summer wind can be cool. And, the properties are large. You can't get to one after another quickly like you can in Downtown Las Vegas.

As for Downtown Vegas, the entire three blocks of Downtown are covered, but you might want a light jacket during the winter. Venturing across the uncovered street to the Plaza is a five minute walk, but heading the other way you can get to a dozen clubs in then minutes. There used to be 18.

Downtown is Comfort City

If you didn't know it, Downtown Las Vegas is comfort city. Every evening there is some type of laser light show, concert, or overhead pictures to lure you into the street. Old favorite casinos like Binion's, Four Queens, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Club and the Golden Gate offer reasonable room rates (Binion's rooms are not currently available) and inexpensive meals.

Other clubs close by include the California Hotel, Plaza, Freemont, El Cortez, and Lady Luck, Fitzgeralds, Main Street Station, and the Gold Spike. You won't have to get dressed up to play downtown. You should expect loud music, street vendors, cheap drinks, and plenty of young people milling around.

As the old song by the Mama's and Pappa's suggested, You gotta go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do, with whoever you wanna do it with.

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