Arizona Charlie’s Boulder
You can find Arizona Charlie’s resting on Boulder Highway no more than six miles east from the action of the Vegas strip. In order to entice potential customers to drop their losing streaks at some of the top Vegas Casinos and instead use that money to line Charlie’s pockets, this casino features lower table minimums and lower room rates for the hotel portion of the establishment. That way when you find you need a room to crash in after a hard day of losses, it won’t cost you the arm and leg you already lost at the craps table just minutes before. Of course, Arizona Charlie’s is not all glitz and glamour, that responsibility is better left for the squadron of Elvis impersonators and neon poker chips that you’d find six miles to the west of this establishment. It gives up a lot in the way of atmosphere in favor of being more down-home and less stressful. Whether this is a deal breaker or not is all a matter of personal preference.
This Boulder Highway location of Arizona Charlie’s is not the original. That title is reserved for the Arizona Charlie’s located on West Vegas’ Decatur Road. At one point this establishment was bringing in about $72 million annually in purely gaming revenue alone and was considered one of the top locals’ casinos. Then it was bought by American Casino & Entertainment, the same group that brought you the unnecessary 8th floor swimming café and ostentatiously burgundy bedspreads of the stratosphere hotel. Luckily they changed very little about Charlie’s operations, merely setting down more money to build the second location which is the very hotel/casino being reviewed here. How exciting!
According to statistics provided by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Arizona Charlie’s operates 19 table games and 1060 slot machines. This may sound impressive if the sum of your experience with Las Vegas has been derived from what you’ve read on a computer screen, but Las Vegas vets will definitely find this on the small side.
Arizona Charlie’s is located on Boulder Highway, slightly to the north of the Flamingo hotel/casino. The easiest way to get there is by starting from downtown and taking the US-93/95 South. Get off at the Boulder Highway exit and then Arizona Charlie’s is only a few more blocks south from that. If you’re starting from the strip then you can choose to take the same route, or go straight out from the Flamingo.
Arizona Charlie’s is fairly close to the Sam’s Town and Boulder Station Casinos, or at least it would appear that way. It’s hard to tell how far away you are when the only thing separating one casino from the next is stretches of flat sand punctuated by the occasional tumbleweed and RV Park. If you have a car, you’ll do fine transporting yourself between locations, but if you’ve decided to take airport transport down to Charlie’s then it’s going to be your final destination, at least until you’re ready to pony up the cash for taxis back and forth all day every day. As close as it seems, the miles between Sam’s Town and Arizona Charlie’s are near impossible to navigate on foot without eventually showing up drenched in sweat. The strip on Boulder is populated with many types of low-income housing too, which doesn’t exactly make you feel safe, especially with the large bankroll you’ll undoubtedly be carrying with you. Play it safe and stick to Charlie’s or rent a car. These are your two best options.
Over three hundred modest rooms arranged in an apartment style configuration make up the hotel segment of the Arizona Charlie’s franchise. This hotel was once meant to function as a long-term stay complex but has since been remodeled, the changes being very apparent. For example, just about every room is a suite, but this only encompasses a small bedroom and an even smaller sitting room. Each room is no bigger than an average hotel room. The beds are about as comfortable as a nineties Red Roof Inn (a good thing), but the televisions are insanely small, especially when compared to the huge selection of flat screens available at most other hotels in Vegas. The toiletries are of the cheapest quality, and there is an ironing board available, but no safe in which to store your winnings. They probably don’t want to encourage you to be stashing your money away. After all, why do that when you could be spending it? The bathrooms are sized proportionally to the already-small room size, so don’t expect to use the bathroom to practice your choreographed dance moves for disco nights at Studio 54.
In spite of all those small drawbacks, the hotel portion of Arizona Charlie’s does have some positives. The landscaping is masterful and makes the place very appealing. The pool is a very popular attraction and is designed to look like a ritzy white collar resort that has been fashioned out of a set piece from “Once Upon a time in Mexico” which comes off a lot cooler than it sounds. It even comes equipped with a changing hut so you don’t have to walk all the way through the lobby of the hotel in your swim trunks looking like an out-of-touch thirty-something father. Make sure to bring something to change into once you are done swimming though, or else you’ll just be doing the same thing backwards.
The room price at Arizona Charlie’s also does not leave much room for complaint with a nightly cost of $65 when they are at their busiest, no amenities charge, and a further optional charge of a mere $11.99 per night for wi-fi.
It may also be important to note that the hotel and casino are not attached here as they usually are in similar types of establishments. You will have to walk outside of the casino to reach your room. There’s no way around it. For some newbies, this separation might prove a relief, for others, a minor annoyance. Whichever way you slice it, the complex is well lit and security is always at the ready if anything starts to look shady. There are at least three guards on bicycles and one in a golf cart patrolling the premises at all times so you have no excuse not to feel at least reasonably safe.
If you managed to bring your RV all the way out to Las Vegas with you, but still want to be able to attend Arizona Charlie’s at your leisure, this should be no problem since there is an adjoining RV park with nearly 200 spaces available that is barely a hop, skip, and a jump from the premises. Sizes range from compact to spacious and the park features free wi-fi connectivity, electrical outlets, and its own level of 24-hour security.
Arizona Charlie’s features a wide range of options to satisfy even the most demanding palette, as long as the most demanding palette is perfectly okay with slightly-better-than-fast-food-quality options. There is a buffet, steakhouse café, deli, and pizzeria. If you’re lucky enough to grab any comps, these can be used at any of the dining establishments.
The steakhouse goes by the name of Yukon Charlie’s and is open every day but Monday. The prices are very reasonable considering the type of food served and considering that in some parts of Vegas a $150 steak the size of small man’s closed fist isn’t considered unreasonable.
The café goes by the name of The Sourdough Café and is paradoxically famous for its steak ‘n’ eggs, an achievement which the steakhouse Yukon Charlie’s cannot lay claim to. Featured in the Las-Vegas Review Journal, this menu-item is not to be disregarded, especially at its very reasonable price of $3.99. The steak comes with as much Tabasco and A1 sauce as you desire and the platter also comes with hashbrowns and toast on the side. For the price, the steak is far more large and flavorful than you’d expect, so you really have no reason not to try it if you do plan on stopping by the Sourdough Café.
The Buffet is known as The Wild West Buffet and prices range from between $5.50 and $10 if you possess a club card. It is possibly the cheapest buffet in Las Vegas, and taking that into account the food wasn’t all that bad. The salad bar is fairly dismal with chopped iceberg lettuce being the only choice you are given, but in the main buffet they do diversify their choices from the standard burger bars and pizza you would usually suspect from a buffet. You can pick up a bowl of goulash, or even seaweed salad (which one of the waiters recommends you should not eat). Nevertheless it is a buffet, so the choice is yours.
The downstairs deli is a great choice for those of you that want a quick meal before hitting the road, offering choices like personal sized pizzas and loaded cheesesteak for less than $6. There’s also plenty of other greasy foods to satiate your appetite for the unhealthy with things like onion rings and mozzarella sticks for sale.
There is a Casino present at Arizona Charlie’s Hotel/Casino. These are about the best words that can be said about it. Not that Arizona Charlie’s has a bad casino. It’s still a great stop for local gambling, there’s just nothing to immediately set them apart from any other area casino that caters to locals whatsoever. Actually, there are a few downsides. With as much respect and hesitation as possible, it does need to be said that a somewhat lower class of people generally attend this establishment and stay in these rooms than say, those that put up enough money to spend a few nights at the Bellagio. Basically, if you can’t stand the sight of beer bellies bursting through elastic, or the smell of years old cigarette smoke absorbed into the walls, don’t patronize this casino. That said, the employees seem cheerful, and the games themselves are fair and fun.
Video Poker at Charlie’s isn’t exactly treated as an Olympic sport as it is at other places on the boulder highway, but it has carved out its own small niche. The best game is 9/6 Jacks with a 99.54% return when perfectly played. But for the sake of comparison, Sam’s Town and Boulder Station both offer Deuce’s Wild with a 100.76% return.
ACE play, the slot club will offer a 0.08% rebate which is pretty terrible since even the cheapest of casinos will usually offer 0.1% but if you want to spend 100 tier credits, or 250 tier credits to achieve either green or red card status, you can get either 2x or 3x cash back. This same card can also be used at Arizona Charlie’s the Stratosphere hotel, or the Aquarius in Laughlin. It costs $1 to earn a point in slots and $2 to earn a point playing video poker. It is also not hard to earn points at the races or on sports and bingo.
Arizona Charlie’s table game selection is small, but they still focus on variety in what they do offer. They have a craps table which starts at $3-5 minimums and 10x odds. They also offer a single roulette table, five blackjack tables with minimums from $3-10, and two Pai Gow tables. The blackjack tables use two decks, and the rules are hit soft 17, and a double after split is allowed. These are the same rules for the lower minimum game, but with a six-deck shoe. The general audience seems quite resistant to minimum increases and there are nights where dealers are sent home at 10 PM because a minimum increase from $3 to $5 was too rich for patrons. It seems the Boulder strip is far more frugal.
There is a small sports and race book located in the back of the casino with little TV carrels included but these are only to be used by people betting on races. Those betting on sports must sit in normal chairs and watch the television set. You can go as low as 15 cent bets in baseball if you are into gambling for little more than the thrill of it.
The bingo hall on the second floor is usually packed, and it is often advertised as the only 24-hour bingo available in Vegas, so if you absolutely itch to play bingo with the blue-hairs at 3 AM, this is the place for you. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated poker room.
Those that have had experience with Arizona Charlie’s in the past indicate that while minimum’s (and thus winnings as well) were low, the games were fair and the dealers all knew what they were doing. Every once in a while Arizona Charlie’s hires out a band to come perform as their entertainment for the gamblers on the floor. Most of the time it’s a sub-par cover group or a no-name local band playing their hits for drinks, but you get what you pay for.
When you get ready to check out, the booth worker will tell you how many points you’ve earned, and whether this balance is enough for any cashback. She will also tell you how much money you earned in comps, and it’s very nice that they are kept separate, a perk which few Vegas casinos provide.
While it might not be the fanciest club on the strip, and while it might not even be a club on the strip to begin with (at least not the strip most people think of), Arizona Charlie’s doesn’t go out of its way to fool you. It is truly a genuine low-stakes gambling casino with rooms if you need them and with a friendly staff ready to help you if you need anything. The games are few but diverse, and the music is bad, but still entertaining. It is an establishment meant mainly to draw locals, but don’t be too shy to stop by if you’d like a nice cheesesteak or a quick five dollar game of blackjack whenever you’re in the mood to gamble, but not quite ready to lose your shirt.
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