The Horseshoe Casino is the closest gambling den to downtown Chicago and, by most accounts, is the best in the greater Chicagoland area, particularly with its recent acquisition and remodeling by Harrah's. In addition to an impressive gambling setup, you'll find a 3,000-person entertainment venue, free bus service from the North Side, two bars, four restaurants, and Vegas-like poker rooms. If I didn't get wiped out in craps on my last visit, I might be there every weekend—this just goes to show that you need to have a proper meal before you start drinking & gambling...
In addition to the gambling, Horseshoe Casino also features entertainment at "The Venue," which is a 90,000 SQFT entertainment venue outfitted with stadium seating that accommodates up to 3,300 people. The lineup features rock, country, comedians, and other random acts like the Chippendales.
On the west end of the casino is the circular Push Bar, with one entrance facing the slots and another facing roulette. This watering hole is more posh than Vintage 51 with its sheer curtains and plush seating around the perimeter. High-backed leather barstools line the circular marble bar with "high paying" poker machines set within the bar top and plasma TVs above. Push Bar also features Hookah Nights from 7-11pm. With all the people at the bar, it can be tough to get a drink so, if there aren't any open barstools, I recommend the perimeter seating.
This bar lies on the east end of the casino and promotes a wider variety of microbrews on tap and wines by the glass. Like Push Bar, the bar is inlaid with poker machines, and the barback is impressively illuminated. Additional seating can be found at a handful of long cocktail tables and plush, low-slung seating where you'll also find the occasional waitress. Though it gets crowded at the bar, I've gotten better service here than at Push Bar. Live Music Wednesdays feature cover bands and drink specials, including $9 domestic buckets. I once saw a guy here win $500 at poker and then get yelled at by his inebriated girlfriend. Nice.
I've not yet eaten at Horseshoe, but they feature four restaurants: Jack Binion's Steak House, opened in 1993, overlooking Lake Michigan and named after the casino's original owner; the internationally themed Village Square Buffet; Benny's Home Cookin'; and JB's Gourmet Sandwiches & Salads.
Aside from fantasy sports and college basketball brackets, I'm not much of a gambler but I have learned to love (and hate) craps, which offers the best odds in the 350,000 SQFT casino. You'll find several tables along the main aisle, next to roulette and blackjack tables, and a few more that form a spur off the aisle near Push Bar. Whatever your game, most tables are $15, though some increase to $25 and then to $50 as the night wears on, so make sure to be aware of the minimum bet signs.
For more information, check out the Horseshoe Casino Hammond website.