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By P.N. Reichard
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Harrah's Louisiana Downs in Shreveport
Harrah's Louisiana Downs in Shreveport.

Louisiana rivers have long been associated with gambling, and today the Eldorado Resort and Casino has a prominent spot along the river bank in Shreveport. It boasts the area’s biggest poker room, along with 50 gaming tables and a thousand slot machines. Just upriver, the Eldorado gets a bit of neighborly competition from Sam's Town Hotel & Casino Shreveport. Both are right on the edge of downtown Shreveport, providing immediate access to some of the area’s best dining and tourist attractions. These include RiverView Park and the Red River District, with plentiful shopping and a wide range of eateries.

Across the Red River, in Bossier City, you find a trio of riverboat casino resorts: Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, Boomtown Casino & Hotel, and DiamondJacks Casino & Resort. The swank Horseshoe places emphasizes luxury accommodations. Boomtown is keeping pace and recently underwent a $2.5 million renovation. And DiamondJack’s, the newest of all casino resorts in the area, is still in mint condition. All three are within sight of the gorgeous Louisiana Boardwalk Promenade, a half-mile stretch of shopping, dining and entertainment.

Like their sisters across the river, all three casinos offer the grand, Vegas-style atmosphere you would expect of Louisiana’s pre-eminent gaming area. That means first-class gambling, with hundreds of tables and thousands of slot machines. It means entertainment from world-famous acts from the country, rock and R&B genres. And it means amenities designed to erase the worries of the outside world—deluxe spas and upscale suites, for example. On both sides of the river, the casino resorts compete for visitors’ attention with appealing vacation packages and hundreds upon hundreds of hotel rooms.

If it’s the ponies you prefer, head for the eastern edge of Bossier City. Harrah’s Louisiana Downs boasts one of the nation’s highest-quality thoroughbred courses. The horses run on a May-through-September schedule. But to keep the gaming up all year long, Harrah’s recently opened a 150,000-square-foot casino and entertainment complex. Several restaurants are available.

To balance out all these thrills, the Shreveport-Bossier area has a full complement of “quieter” attractions. Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, for instance, stimulates the intellect with its laser-lit planetarium and interactive exhibits. The American Rose Center Gardens, meanwhile, features the country’s largest rose garden. Strolling its 118 acres inspires a peaceful sense of wonder.

The Shreveport-Bossier area has everything the avid betting man or woman looks for, along with plenty of entertainment options once you’ve folded your cards. It’s not just a gambler’s getaway, but the perfect place for anyone who might just be along for the ride.