Layover At O’Hare? The 5 Closest Casinos To Get Your Game On

Written By T.J. McBride on January 24, 2024
Photo of the Southwest Airlines ticket counter at O'Hare airport on a story about the five closest casinos to the airport.

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is one of the busiest airports in the country. There were over 26.3 million passengers who boarded a plane at O’Hare in 2021, according to Wisevoter.

With that many flights, there are undoubtingly long layovers for some passengers. While Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas has slots machines next to the gates, O’Hare does not. So where can folks looking to get in some gaming between flights at O’Hare go to gamble away the time?

There are actually five casinos close enough to O’Hare to kill a few hours and get back to make a flight.

These casinos are not only the closest options to O’Hare, they’re the most popular ones in the Prairie State. In October, the five contributed a whopping $32 million in tax revenue to the state. Unfortunately, Illinois online casinos are illegal, so a traveler’s only option for gaming is to hop in a cab or rideshare and visit a brick-and-mortar casino.

Rivers Casino Des Plaines

Distance from O’Hare: 3.7 miles

Rivers Casino Des Plaines is the closest option to the airport, but it lacks a hotel. For those determined to stay as close to the airport but still have the option of walking to the casino, there are two options. The first is the Hyatt Rosemont; the second is Hilton Garden Inn Chicago O’Hare.

The casino floor at Rivers spans 44,000 square feet and includes nearly 1,050 slot machines and 48 table games. Its slot machine denominations range from 50 cents up to $100. On its tables, patrons can play blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat. There are also different poker variations such as High Card Flush, Mississippi Stud Poker, Texas Hold ’Em, three-card poker and Spanish 21. There is also a BetRivers Sportsbook on site.

Many different food and bar options are available at Rivers. Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House is a classic steakhouse that also features seafood. There is also Flipt for burgers, Mian for Asian cuisine and Taco Suerte, which serves Mexican food. As to bars, there’s AquaBar near the poker room and Lotus for a higher-end cocktail experience.

Rivers is just 10 minutes away from the airport. For more information on Rivers Casino Des Plaines, 3000 S. River Road in Des Plaines, check out its website.

Bally’s Casino Chicago

Distance from O’Hare: 17 miles

Bally’s Casino Chicago is the second nearest casino to O’Hare, and it also lacks a hotel. Still, being in downtown Chicago, there are plenty of hotel options in the area. One example is The Royal Sonesta Chicago River North, which is one block from the casino that opened in September 2023.

The casino floor at Bally’s is 34,000 square feet and includes 56 table games and almost 800 slot machines. There is a large range of table games offered, including blackjack, baccarat, EZ Baccarat, roulette and craps. There is also a large quantity of different denomination slot machines up to $100. No sportsbook exists at the casino.

For those looking to grab a bite to eat, there are a few options. Kitchen 888 offers Asian street food at its noodle bar. There is also Medinah Bistro for what it calls classic comfort food. Lastly, there is a coffee and sandwich establishment called Wabash Café with grab-and-go options. If a drink is more what you’re looking for, there is the Center Bar and Bistro Bar.

Bally’s is about a 45-minute drive from O’Hare. For more information on Bally’s Casino Chicago, 600 N. Wabash Ave in Chicago, check out its website.

Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin

Distance from O’Hare: 27 miles

The next closest casino to the airport is Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, which is a riverboat casino. Grand Victoria also does not have a hotel.

Grand Victoria is a Caesars casino that features over 700 slot machines and 25 table games across its nearly 30,000-square-foot gaming floor. There are plenty of table game options, including blackjack, roulette, craps and baccarat. There is also a poker room that has featured World Series of Poker tournaments. Slot machines use denominations from a penny to $100. The cherry on top is the Caesars Illinois Sportsbook.

The food options are slightly more limited compared to the above casinos. There is the Buckinghams Bistro and the Buckinghams Steakhouse, which are both fine-dining establishments. There is also The Slice Pizzeria & Pasta for a more casual option.

Grand Victoria is 27 miles from O’Hare, which is a 31-minute drive if toll roads are used. To avoid tolls, it can take close to an hour to arrive from the airport. For more information on Grand Victoria Casino Elgin, 250 S. Grove Ave., in Elgin, check out its website.

Hollywood Casino Aurora

Distance from O’Hare: 37 miles

Hollywood Casino Aurora also has no hotel, but it has plans to relocate and expand its offerings significantly. The new development is expected to cost $360 million and will include a 200-room hotel to go along with a new gaming floor and other improvements.

The current Hollywood Casino has a massive 53,000-square-foot gaming floor and features over 1,000 slot machines and 21 table games. There is every type of slot machine, from penny slots to $100 spins, as well as video poker machines. Table game offerings are similar to most others, with blackjack, craps, roulette, mini baccarat, three-card poker and Mississippi Stud available. The casino also has a poker room with both Limit Texas Hold ‘Em and No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. There is a Penalty Box Sportsbook and Bar for sports bettors.

For a bite to eat while gambling, there is Slice for pizza as well as Fairbank Steakhouse. The Penalty Box also serves drinks and food as well.

Hollywood is 40 minutes away from O’Hare by car with tolls or a little over an hour without tolls. For more information on Hollywood Casino Aurora, 1 W. New York St. in Aurora, check out its website.

Harrah’s Joliet Hotel and Casino

Distance from O’Hare: 49 miles

Harrah’s Joliet Hotel and Casino might be the fifth furthest casino from O’Hare, but it stands alone as the closest casino that has its own hotel. Harrah’s has a 200-room hotel which sits alongside the Des Plaines River in Joliet.

The casino has over 20 table games and more than 800 slot machines on its 39,000-square-foot gaming floor. The table game options include blackjack, roulette, craps and mini baccarat. There are plenty of poker options as well, including three-card poker, Mississippi Stud, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em and High Card Flush. If slot machines are the priority, there are plenty of choices, including 150 video poker machines.

There is classic American food available at the Cross Street Grill, but if something fancier is the goal, The Reserve is Harrah’s fine dining restaurant. If someone simply wants some pizza, check out The Slice Pizzeria and Pasta. For a liquid diet, there is Sheer for a bar option.

Harrah’s is just under one hour away from O’Hare by car if using tolls. That drive time jumps up to one hour and 10 minutes without tolls. For more information on Harrah’s Joliet Hotel and Casino, 151 N. Joliet St. in Joliet, check out its website.

Photo by Nam Y. Huh/AP
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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