Considering Reno is the epicenter of slot machine production in the U.S. (IGT, the largest American slot manufacturer, is based there), it’s no wonder Northern California is home to some of the most exciting slot experiences around. I’m not about individual machines; for me, it’s all about the overall vibe. With that in mind, here are my favorite regional places to pull the reels.
Feather Falls Casino, Oroville
With 1,100 of Northern California’s loosest and highest paying machines in the North State—including video poker and reel and video slot games—Feather Falls Casino in Oroville is one of California top casinos for playing the slot. They also have a nightly lottery for Bonus Magic Card holders (I won $100 chip on a Friday night). Another great reason to come here is their Feather Falls Casino Brewing Company, a new restaurant/microbrewery that serves nine styles of superb lagers and ales along with hearty platters of barbecue, pasta, seafood, and sushi (their sashimi plate is particularly good).
Peppermill Reno Hotel Casino, Reno
Famous for its “loose” slots (which means they are reputed to pay out frequently), the Peppermill has been drawing slot players sine the 1970s. Today, the joint boasts more than 1,900 total machines, most of which have a reported 99 percent or better payback. All the machines operate with the ticket-in and ticket-out system, and denominations range from pennies to $100 a pull. There are even slots in the Oceano Restaurant, one of the property’s more popular eateries. To the dismay of many slot fans, the Peppermill no longer has the Wheel of Fortune or Megabucks slot machines. It’s still worth the trip.
Red Hawk Casino, Placerville
Northern California’s newest casino didn’t cut any corners in the slot department. With nearly 2,100 machines in all, the casino certainly offers plenty of choices: Millionizer, Bigger Bang Big Event, Beat the Field, Monopoly, and I Dream of Jeanie, to name a few. The casino also features many wide area progressive games that continue to build jackpots until someone hits. There are Indiana Jones machines with a jackpot that starts at $1,000,000 and Wheel of Fortune machines in penny, quarter, dollar and five dollar denominations. In the high-limit area, table minimums go up to $100; here, be prepared to drop some serious coin.
Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, Lemoore
A favorite haunt of 2007 World Series of Poker winner Jerry Yang (he lives near Fresno), the relatively new Tachi Palace is a great place to play slots as well. Some of the roughly 2,000 slots on the gaming floor incorporate traditional favorites such as Jackpot Party, Double Diamond and Blazing Sevens. Interactive slots, multi-line machines and an exclusive high-limit area provide all sorts of fun and high-stakes gaming opportunities for all players. The on-site customer loyalty program—dubbed Club Premiere—delivers fantastic comps and other discounts to regular slot players. The adjoining hotel is a great place for overnight guests to crash.
Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, Reno
At more than 80,000 square feet of gaming space, the Grand Sierra is the physically largest casino in northern Nevada. The place has nearly 1,000 slots from which to choose, and many of the slots have been replaced in the last few years, meaning that most are of the multiple-line, video variety. This, coupled with a dark and swanky décor, creates a modern vibe that always makes me feel like I’m gambling in a hipster nightclub. Of course the casino also has the old-fashioned reel slots; a staple for any authentic and legitimate gambling experience. Members in the casino’s Comps Plus program earn cash equivalent prizes for time played.
Thunder Valley Casino, Lincoln
Promotions are the name of the game at the expansive Thunder Valley, where gamblers are invited to pull some slots for absolutely free, provided they have a player’s card. There are 2,400 slot machines in all, including games that you’ll only find at Thunder Valley: 100 percent Payback Slots, Jackpot Party, Little Lucy, and popular progressive games such as Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune. The casino also has invested in a non-smoking room, and technicians have gone ahead and set up some slot machines there. As an aside, the casino’s new Vegas Star craps machine also is technically a slot machine since it works off algorithms.