THE BEST OF GAMING 2017 Chicagoland Best Overall Gaming Resort & Best Suites: Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa he Chicagoland market is a diverse collection that straddles the Illinois-Indiana state line and stretches more than 200 miles from east to west, from Michigan City in Indiana to Rock Island on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Though the casinos have their roots in riverboat gaming, none cruise on the water today. Indiana casinos are a collection of boats and barges that stay dockside on Lake Michigan, while most Illinois casinos are moored on the region’s rivers. An exception: The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, is well off the Des Plaines River, but is built above a pit holding a few inches of water to satisfy state requirements. Not included is the city itself. Chicago, under then mayor Richard Daley, opted out when the Illinois legislature was debating legalization of riverboat gambling in 1990. If you want the bright lights of Wrigley Field, Michigan Avenue and the Loop, you’re going to have to get away from the bright lights of the casinos. It’s a market with a split personality. Illinois casinos are limited to 1,200 gaming positions per license. Indiana has no such restrictions, so its casinos are larger – some have more than twice as many slots as any Illinois casino has in slot and table seats combined. There are other differences. Indiana permits smoking and 24/7 gaming. Illinois doesn’t – facilities must close a few hours each day. For Best Overall Gaming Resort in 2017, Casino Player readers 66 SEPTEMBER 2017 • www.casinocenter.com T turned to opposite ends of the region, just as they did in 2016. The repeat winner was Blue Chip in Michigan City, Indiana, about an hour and a half east of the big city. Blue Chip offers easy access to the Indi-ana Dunes National Lakeshore. And the No. 2 finisher once again was Jumer’s in Rock Island, about a three-hour drive west of Chicago on the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities area that Illinois shares with Iowa. Blue Chip knows a thing or two about pampering its guests with Best Suites and Best Spa, and it topped the poll for Best Craps. Jumer’s, the Best Hotel winner, has the Best Rooms, Best Pool and Best Players Club. Closer to Chicago – less than 50 miles, but travel times vary with traffic – be sure to check out Hollywood Joliet. The third-place finisher for Best Overall Gaming Resort is this year’s winner for Best Casino.