Get Away to Play: Casino Tours Quick, Affordable Way to Travel
Jun 30, 2018 11:49AM
● By Vanessa Orr
If you’ve got the itch to go gambling, you’re in luck if you need an effortless, economical way to get to a casino. A number of companies around Pittsburgh offer tours that not only include a way to get to your destination, but offer perks including free slot play, food and more.
Urso Bus Tours
Urso Bus Tours, located in Shaler, began offering casino tours when they first got their start 16 years ago. They make it easy for people—especially seniors—to travel to Wheeling Island, Rocky Gap, the Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Seneca Niagara, Rivers Casino and more.
“These trips are really popular for seniors because they don’t like to drive to places that they’re not familiar with, and some of them don’t drive at all,” said Vice President Michelle Urso.
Urso makes it especially easy for larger groups, as they can pick them up where they live. “If a group of 20 or so people from a senior high-rise want to go, we’ll meet them at their location,” said Urso, adding that they also try to accommodate people who don’t drive by finding an easy-to-reach, familiar site.
Each month, Urso offers line runs to several of the casinos, which leave from The Block Northway. “All they have to do is call us, show up and get on the bus and go,” said President Scott Urso.
The company also makes it easy for those who don’t like to do things online. “People can call us, and we also mail a paper schedule out,” said Scott Urso. “A lot of seniors appreciate that.”
Urso works with the casinos to offer perks, which can include free slot play and discounts on food. “As far as cost, a trip to Rivers Casino, for example, isn’t a pricey day out,” said Michelle Urso. “The cost of the trip is $15, and they get $20 in free play.”
Most important, Michelle Urso says that as a small company, they really look out for their customers and work to ensure that they are comfortable and have a positive experience. “So many of our regulars look forward to getting out for a while, and sometimes this is the only socialization they get during the week,” she said. “They enjoy meeting new people, which they can even do on the bus!”
Thomas Tours and Travel
Thomas Tours and Travel, a tour operator based in New Kensington, provides line runs to local casinos, as well as a number of special trips to locations further away, such as Dover Downs, Seneca Niagara, Seneca Allegheny, Presque Island, and even Atlantic City and Las Vegas. All of their casino trips have bonus packages attached, which can include food and free slot play.
“We really cater to our customers by putting together tours that give the best value for the dollar,” explained Lucia Thomas, of the company owned by her husband, Michael Thomas. “Our customers stay in higher-end accommodations and get great meals and service, and there’s always a tour director on the bus to help with whatever they need.”
Thomas gives the example of a $395 four-day trip to Del Lago Casino in upstate New York, which includes three other casinos and a bonus package of $270. “That trip, which took place in June, sold out in March,” said Thomas. “It was a really great value.”
As a full-service travel agency, Thomas offers more than casino tours, though many of their multi-day tours include a casino stop as an added attraction. Participants on their Summer in Cape Cod trip, for example, will spend their last night visiting the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.
Coach USA Tours and Events, serviced by Lenzner Tour and Travel
Coach USA Tours and Events, serviced by Lenzner Tour and Travel, also offers line runs to the Meadows Casino and Wheeling Downs, as well as one- and three-day trips to Seneca Niagara, and four- and five-day tours to Atlantic City.
“We get people of all ages on these trips, because a lot of people combine them with vacations,” said Tour Coordinator Karen Cope. “They can gamble in Atlantic City and go to the beach, or visit the falls while they’re in Niagara.” As part of Coach USA, Lenzner also has access to five sister companies in the region, so are able to promote their tours as well.
All of the casinos that the company works with offer perks on the trips including free slot play and food credits. “It’s always nice to gamble with someone else’s money,” laughed Cope.
“An added benefit is that people don’t have to drive or worry about getting lost,” she continued. “And we make stops so that passengers can take a break and stretch their legs to make sure that they’re comfortable. It’s really a stress-free vacation.”
Preferred Casino Tours
Those who want to travel even further to play have access to casinos in Las Vegas, Reno, Tahoe and New Orleans, as well as other locations through Preferred Casino Tours.
“We have a mix of high-rollers and people who enjoy gambling as well as people looking to enjoy shows, restaurants and beaches,” said John Mitchell, who co-owns the company with partner Antonia Battaglia-Elo. “We can accommodate just about everybody.”
Preferred Casino Tours’ packages include room, airfare and transfers at the destination, as well as perks provided by the casinos, which are based on a person’s level of play. Add-ons can include limousines or upgrades to suites.
Trips to Atlantic City include the option to stay on the boardwalk or at a marina property, and Las Vegas accommodations are always on the center strip in places like Bally’s, Paris Las Vegas or Harrah’s. The company’s schedules change daily, and trips are always being added, especially, for example, if the Pittsburgh Steelers have a game in a location where the company travels.
“We offer such a good price point that even if you don’t gamble, it’s worth it to get away for a weekend,” said Mitchell. “You can travel to Atlantic City and get your air and a room for two nights for $349. You can’t find a package like that anywhere else! You can leave on Friday, come back Sunday, and feel like you’ve had a vacation.”