Reader MichaelPags shares his local casino: del Lago Resort and Casino
As these things go, my local casino is just a baby, and I have been there since before it was born.
In late 2015, the state of New York decided to grant three licenses for privately operated casinos within the state. From the beginning, I was hopeful the casino proposal in the tiny town of Tyre, New York would be one of those that made the cut. I still remember watching the webcast where the decision was announced, and cheering aloud when the proposal from what was then known as Lago Resort and Casino was approved.
Fast-forward to February of 2017, when the doors first opened. I decided to avoid the crowds and wait a few days before making my initial visit, anxious anticipation building all the while.
A little less than a week later, I stepped inside for the first time, not knowing what to expect. After all, this wasn’t Vegas or even Atlantic City. My hometown casino is in an area many would consider being the middle of nowhere; not a place known for its social scene. The amenities were hyped, but how good could they possibly be?
I’m pleased to say, every bit as good as advertised.
My first impression upon walking on to the gaming floor of del Lago was, believe it or not, of the Wynn gaming floor. Whether because of the color scheme, the furnishings, or just the level of class, the Wynn was the first place that came to mind. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. Even better, the more I explored, the more impressed I became.
The focal point of the gaming floor is easy to find. A short walk through the wide aisle, with banks of slot machines on either side, and you come to the aptly named Centrifico, a large bar with plenty of seating, a lounge area, televisions galore, and areas for people watching in all directions. If you visit the resort and are looking for an easy place to meet up with your friends, this is it. You literally cannot miss it, especially with the stone water wall highlighting the space.
Televisions are prominent throughout the gaming floor as well, allowing players to keep tabs on their favorite sporting event or whatever else is going on. If and when New York ever approves sports betting, del Lago is well positioned to cater to those individuals who want to keep an eye on their bets while they play the tables and slots, of which there are many: over 2,000 of the latter and almost 100 of the former.
There is also a poker room, which is obviously good news for those who play, but the story behind it is even better. When plans for del Lago were first announced, a poker room was not included. Almost immediately, several people commented on their Facebook page, wondering why a poker room wasn’t planned and asking what would have to happen to get one. While these questions were never addressed directly, someone was listening, because the poker room was ready to go on opening day. I love that this happened, as it proves del Lago listens to their clientele. In fact, community interaction has been big from the beginning, with Facebook Live sessions with the General Manager, and a Player’s Club/points program which will eventually allow players to use their points at local businesses outside the casino property.
Of course, no casino can survive today by offering just gambling, and del Lago has plenty to offer on the dining and entertainment fronts as well. As for the former, the options are highlighted by Portico by Fabio, a steakhouse from well-known chef Fabio Viviani. This upscale restaurant boasts fresh local ingredients and a solid wine list, and I can say from experience it is as good as advertised. I have dined there once so far and will most assuredly be back. I could say a lot more on this topic, but I run the risk of making this post several thousand words. Maybe there will be a “Your Local Casino Steakhouse” Author for a Day Challenge somewhere down the line?
Also offered at del Lago: the Farmer’s Market Buffet.
Again focusing on locally-sourced ingredients, the buffet offers…well, basically what you’d get on any buffet in a casino. There are areas dedicated to Italian, Asian, and comfort foods, as well as a carving station with a rotating selection of fresh meats. The food is very good, but not knock-your-socks-off, write-home-to-Mama outstanding. One exception: the dessert selections, which seem to be universally loved. The star of the show here is the gelato, available in several different flavors.
For those in a hurry, there is a food court, with three options: national chains Smashburger and Moe’s, and Ciccino’s, a local pizza joint for whom del Lago represents their third location. All are good, though service was a bit slow at Smashburger on my first visit. However, I chalked that up to everyone still learning their jobs, and I can report my subsequent visits have been much quicker.
On the entertainment front, the centerpiece of del Lago’s offerings is The Vine, a 2,400-seat theater. Much like my concerns with the casino itself, I honestly had my doubts about the quality of acts the resort would be able to draw given the “middle of nowhere” location. I’m happy to say I have been pleasantly surprised. The majority of the acts, while not being A-list stars, are at least known names. Some of the people who have played del Lago so far include Flo Rida, Brett Michaels, Trace Adkins, and even Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton.
Thanks to scheduling conflicts, I have not yet attended a show, but I have talked to many who have, and they have only good things to say about the venue regarding acoustics, sight lines, and the intimate feel of the space.
So now you’ve done your gambling, had dinner, seen a show, done more gambling (yes you did, be honest), and you’re ready to turn in for the night. By the time you’re reading this, it will be after July 1, so you’re in luck – del Lago’s hotel is ready for you! As of this writing, the hotel along with the adjoining spa and two more restaurants are getting ready for their soft open. Needless to say, I’ll be checking out all of these offerings just as soon as they’re available.
All things considered, del Lago has been even better than advertised. That’s not to say it’s without faults – there have been some hiccups, most notably a lack of well-trained dealers – but I am confident these will be ironed out over time. In any event, it’s hard to complain. Living where I do, it’s not easy to get to Vegas on a whim, as much as I would like to. However, thanks to del Lago, I can be at a table fifteen minutes from walking out my door. Pretty hard to complain about that.