During Plucky Survivors 2007 we spent a night at Harrah's North Kansas City, a hotel riverboat that impresses our jaded Las Vegas sensibilities.
It’s located along a scenic stretch of the Missouri River, just a couple of miles north of the center of downtown Kansas City, with easy access to nearby freeways so it provides a good alternative to staying right in the heart of town. Even with moderately heavy traffic it took us about 10-15 minutes to get to the famous KC barbecue places that were calling our names.
As with most riverboat casinos, the hotel itself is on dry land while the casino is on a barge moored along the banks – it doesn’t go out in the water like some casino riverboats and you can enter and leave as often as you want with no limit. The mooring means a long walk from your room to the slot machines but it’s a pleasant journey since most of the public areas are nicely understated, a welcome relief from the sometimes overwhelming Vegas casinos.
The gambling space itself is as modern and large as any Vegas casino, with two floors of slots of all denominations and table games of all stripe. However, the way you gamble in Missouri is slightly different.
In the Show Me State, you are not allowed to throw away all of little Billy's college fund in a non-stop frenzy of gambling excitement. Instead you are limited to a $500 buy-in every two hours, starting at midnight and progressing through the day. You can re-gamble (we'll pretend that's a word) anything you win on top of your buy-in during that period but you can't invest anything new from your wallet (on slots or tables) until that two-hour chunk of time is up.
Rick, who of course gambles more and later than he should have, never approached the limits but found it interesting to hear from the dealers and other players who thought it was a ridiculous rule that had enough loopholes in it to almost invalidate the very reason for its existence. Changes may be coming as competition in nearby Kansas gets underway.
And just in case you’re wondering, Rick lost more money than he won here. That’s not to say you’ll have the same experience, but there it is.
If gambling isn’t your thing, you certainly won’t be lacking in things to do here. There is an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, a branch of the Voodoo Lounge nightclub, and several restaurants including a fine buffet, a Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar & Grill,” and a steakhouse called The Range, with a very similar menu to the one at Harrah’s in Las Vegas.
The large rooms are well designed including a wall of space saving built-ins, a generously proportioned bathroom, and comfortable king sized beds. Not to be mean but it certainly surpasses its cousin in Sin City for quality and price, especially when you consider all of the other amenities.
Because our travel writing takes us to Vegas so much, it's interesting to see the concept translated elsewhere and done successfully.
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