Casino Review: Rivers Casino, Des Plaines, IL

Decent Ambience at a High Price

by J. M. Pressley
First published: September 6, 2011

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is a well-designed casino and worth the visit. But come prepared for high prices and wait times.

The newest gambling establishment in Illinois, Rivers Casino, opened on July 18, 2011. At 3000 S. River Road in Des Plaines, the casino is minutes from O'Hare International Airport in a location that's bound to attract business.

I decided to give it a month to let the novelty wear off before paying Rivers a visit. I chose an early Wednesday evening to have a quick dinner and avoid the weekend crowd. Parking was no trouble; self-parking is free, and there is valet parking on the premises. My gambling partner and I walked right in and began scouting the casino floor.

Environment

The developers put a lot into the physical building. As the first land-based casino in the state, Rivers has some advantages over its riverboat competitors. The decor is a neutral modern design that really won't remind you of anything in particular, but the casino floor is clean and smoke-free. Unlike some other casinos, the noise level from the electronic games wasn't overwhelming.

Dining

Rivers has seven options on site for food and/or drinks. After a quick debate on the merits of a $26-per-person dinner at the Canopy buffet, we opted for Flipt, a grill joint featuring specialty burgers and sandwiches. Dinner for two there cost us $30 for burgers, fries, and drinks. Other establishments include the Coffee Spot cafe, Mian for Asian noodle and rice dishes, music bar Cube, Lotus cocktail lounge, and the pricey anchor restaurant of the casino, Hugo's Frog Bar and Chop House. Across the board, the prices are on the high side for what one would expect in Des Plaines.

Staff

I found the staff friendly overall, although I didn't have the opportunity to interact with the table dealers (see below). The women that ran the Rush Rewards desk were very pleasant and quickly got us cards. Also, the drink waitress always seemed to be nearby and asking if I needed anything, although I'm not sure that the level of service would hold up with a weekend crowd on hand.

Gambling

Unfortunately, this was the weakest part of the Rivers experience for me. And for a casino, that's a problem. According to the Rivers website, the casino has over 1,050 electronic gaming machines and 48 table games on site. I'm not sure it's enough, and the table limits for an early midweek evening were a little surprising. There were $10 roulette and craps tables available, but blackjack started at $15, and those tables were full. The only space to be found was on $20 blackjack tables, and I didn't have the bankroll to cover that.

Instead, I played video poker to kill some time since the electronic games around the perimeter were less crowded. On the 25-cent machine, I won $17 on a $40 stake. After taking a quick stroll around the floor at around 8:30, it was apparent that I wasn't going to get on a $15 blackjack table anytime soon, and some of the other tables had raised their minimums. So I sat back down at a $1 video poker machine, put in $100, and proceeded to lose my money for the next 40 minutes. By that time, it wasn't worth staying much later, and I only had a net loss of $83 for about an hour and a half of gambling. We left the casino around 9:30 when it seemed like the crowd was starting to grow.

General Impression

I think that Rivers will be relying on its location for most of its success for the foreseeable future. It's hard to compare it to the other casinos in the region. It has a larger gaming floor than most of its competitors, more table games, and a comparable number of slots and electronic games. However, I've never before spent over an hour waiting for a blackjack table to free up on a weeknight. If that was an off night, it's easy to see how other patrons have complained that the casino frequently feels crowded. Also, there is little to do at Rivers other than gamble, eat, or have a drink. There's no hotel on site, no theater, and the only entertainment is whatever band or DJ is playing at Cube.

The bottom line is that Rivers is worth a visit, but be prepared to deal with moderately expensive prices and table limits, wait times for seats at tables, and potential crowding throughout the casino.

Disclosure of Material Connection

The writer has no connection to nor was paid by the brand or product described in this content.