Whether you and Lady Luck are already besties or you hope to be, San Diego has the perfect resort casino to scratch your gaming itch in style. From the luckiest casino to the best casino resort pool, it’s on this list.

These casinos and casino hotels made my list because they represent the best of San Diego gaming, chosen for their award-winning status, amenities, and connections to luxury resorts.

All casinos listed here are in East San Diego County and are an hour away or closer from downtown. I share everything you need to know, plus the skinny on “best of” casino categories voted by San Diego casino players.

What to Know About Casino Hotels and Casinos in San Diego

San Diego County is home to 18 Native American tribes, the most of any county in the United States, many of which operate casinos. In California, only tribal casinos and tribal casino resorts can operate Las Vegas-style casinos.

San Diego casinos like Seven Mile Casino in Chula Vista, Oceans 11 Casino in Oceanside, and La Jolla Trading Post Casino in Pauma Valley are modern-day takes on the old-school card rooms. By California gaming law, they can’t operate all the games that tribes can and therefore didn’t make this list.  

You can count on a good time at these San Diego casinos and casino resorts, with everything from shows to golf to epic pools, though some casino resorts are more family-friendly than others. They’re the perfect choice for a day trip, vacation, or staycation.

  • All “best of” categories mentioned below are awarded by Southern California Gaming Guide readers/players unless otherwise specified.

Note from Katie: We independently choose all featured hotels. Booking methods mentioned are popular with our readers or ones we think offer the best value. If you book through select links, we may earn a commission and appreciate you supporting our business. Prices and amenities are subject to change. Our editorial guidelines.

Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino

Neighborhood: Lakeside, CA, 33 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino hotel, opened in 2002

Casino Highlights: Blackjack, Video Poker, Slots, Chipless Baccarat, and Roulette

Why Go: If you love Blackjack, this is your casino. Barona Casino is a California Blackjack Hall of Famer. The Barona Band of Mission Indians hosts this recently renovated ranch-style casino in a picturesque landscape.

The resort reflects classic luxury and is geared toward adults, but kids are welcome. It’s near the nationally recognized Barona Cultural Center & Museum with a native plant garden and museum store.

Note that it is a dry casino, meaning alcohol is only available in some restaurants but not on the casino floor.

Casino Amenities:

  • Award-winning service cashiers come to you on the gaming floor
  • 2,500 slot and video poker machines, 75+ table games, 30,000 square feet of gaming space
  • Chipless Arena
  • Most liberal Blackjack rules in California
  • Voted Loosest Slots 12 years running by San Diego Union-Tribune Readers
  • An enlarged food court replaces the former popular buffet

Hotel Amenities:

  • Day spa
  • Barona Creek Golf Club (course reduced to 9 holes because of drought conditions)
  • No resort fees at Barona Resort
  • Free Wi-Fi, parking, and bottled water
  • 400 spacious rooms & suites at Barona resort 
  • Barona Resort outdoor pool
  • 13 dining venues, including award-winning Italian Cucina restaurant

Good to Know: Barona Casino is a non-smoking casino; you must be 18+ to dine at any Barona restaurant. The casino is open to players 18+, and there is no alcohol on the casino floor.

Hotel Reservations: barona.com

Harrah’s Resort Southern California

Neighborhood: Funner, CA, 56 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino hotel, opened in 2004

Casino Highlights: Always the newest casino games on the market, Impressive Progressive – California’s first all-table jackpot

Why Go: If you’re a frequent visitor to the Las Vegas gaming scene, you’ll appreciate the familiarity of Harrah’s Resort Southern California. Owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, it is managed by Caesar’s Entertainment.

Harrah’s resort claims a top spot in several “best of” categories for both the casino and the resort. Actress and comedian Jane Lynch is the new celebrity mayor of Funner. Does it get any funner than that?

Casino Amenities:

  • 59,000-square-foot casino floor, 58+ table games, 1,600+ slot machines
  • Award-winning casino: Best Casino (#1)
  • Best Players Club (#1)

Hotel Amenities:

  • 3-Star hotel with 1,087 luxury suites & rooms
  • 22 wellness suites & rooms
  • 7 restaurants
  • 3 pools, 8 hot tubs, 23 poolside cabanas, 400-foot lazy river
  • Southern California’s first swim-up bar
  • Full-service spa, plus salt baths
  • Salon & barbershop
  • Fitness center
  • Mile-long nature trail
  • Tribal-owned brewery
  • Best Casual Dining (#1)
  • Best Casino Spa (#2)
  • Best Casino Resort Pool – Dive (#2)
  • Celebrity Mayor Jane Lynch inspired mocktails and vegan dishes
  • Gordon Ramsey Hell’s Kitchen restaurant
  • Event Center hosts concerts, comedy shows, and top-class entertainment

Good to Know: Harrah’s Resort Southern California is a 21+ casino, wheelchair accessible, open 24 hours, and offers free parking. Caesars Rewards includes all 50 properties in Caesars Empire.

Hotel Reservations:

Sycuan Casino & Resort

Neighborhood: El Cajon, CA, 34 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino resort

Casino Highlights: Slots, bingo, blackjack, and baccarat

Why Go: Situated in the East Country neighborhood of El Cajon, Sycuan Casino Resort is operated by the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians. One of the oldest 21+ casinos in San Diego, it’s also known as the luckiest with the loosest slots.

Attached to the casino is a twelve-story luxury hotel featuring an eclectic mix of amenities, including three pools. An always exciting place, Sycuan Casino features a wide selection of live events, from comedy shows to concerts.

Casino Amenities:

  • 60,000-square-foot gaming floor with 2,500+ slot and gaming machines
  • 50+ table games
  • Sycuan Casino bingo hall
  • Poker room
  • Poker tournaments
  • Rotating event calendars for Live & Up Close and the Heritage Event Center
  • Loosest Slots (#1)
  • Best Casino Bingo (#2)
  • Best Poker Room (#2)

Hotel Amenities:

  • Over 300+ guestrooms & suites with valley or golf course views
  • Three pools, including a lazy river and swim-up bar, cabanas, poolside gaming
  • Eight eateries and bars
  • Premier spa – Spa Ritual
  • Fitness Center (adjacent to Spa Ritual)
  • Over 20 meeting and event setups (provide wedding packages and military events)
  • Sycuan Market – 16 nozzle gas station and convenience store (casino hotel adjacent)
  • Golf at Singing Hills golf course

Good to Know: Non-smoking hotel, 10% discount for AAA and military members, free self-parking, valet services reserved for hotel and Black Diamond guests, no pets allowed, $10 – daily resort fee, no outside food or beverage, and guests cannot access swim-up bar, main pool, or lazy river during winter.

Hotel Reservations:

Viejas Casino & Resort

Neighborhood: Alpine, CA, 34 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino  hotel

Casino Highlights: Blackjack, Bingo, off-track betting, and craps

Why go: Viejas Casino & Resort is one of the premier San Diego casinos with a Las Vegas-style gaming experience. Featuring an upscale modern elegance, both Viejas Casino and the hotel are exclusive to 21+ adults, including hotel amenities.

The hotel and casino might be exclusive to adults, but the surrounding area is family-friendly. Ma-Tar-Awa RV camper park, Paintball Park at Alpine, and Viejas Outlets, including Viejas Bingo and Slot Parlor are located nearby.

Casino Amenities:

  • 10,000-square-foot gaming floor with 2,500+ slot machines
  • Viejas Casino EZ Baccarat
  • Blackjack – double-deck and six-deck
  • Las Vegas-inspired craps
  • Fortune Pai Gow
  • Three-card, Six-card, and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em poker
  • Mystery Card Roulette Viejas Casino
  • Best Casino (#3)
  • Best Blackjack (#2)
  • Best Bingo (#2)
  • Regularly scheduled concert events
  • Rotating musical performances in the Lobby Bar lounge

Hotel Amenities:

  • Adults-only hotel with three towers – 309 deluxe guestrooms & VIP suites
  • Two state-of-the-art fitness centers
  • Willows Hotel pool and new pool bar & lounge
  • Two user-friendly business centers
  • Nine high-tech meeting areas
  • Magnificent Oak Ballroom (weddings and other special occasions)
  • 10 restaurants and bars
  • Willows Spa (includes a saltwater spa pool, steam room, and salt sauna)

Good to Know: Viejas Bingo and Slot Parlor is 18+ (at Viejas Outlets), valet parking is always free, pool cabana rentals available, service animals welcome, emotional support dogs are not allowed, scooter rentals are available ($30/day), the casino welcomes smoking and non-smoking guests.

Hotel Reservations:

Casino Pauma 

Neighborhood: Pauma Valley, CA, 1 hour from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino, opened in 2001

Casino Highlights: 9-5 or 8-6 Jacks or Better (JoB) video poker, Texas hold ‘em

Why Go: Head to Casino Pauma for a dose of nostalgia. Nestled among fragrant avocado, orange, and lemon groves, Casino Pauma is a small, unpretentious gaming destination administered by the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians.

Reminiscent of old-school casinos with budget dining (hello, $7 steak and eggs) and 24-hour gaming, it’s a favorite with the casual, come-as-you-are crowd.    

Casino Amenities:

  • Consistently among top three loosest slots casinos (#3)
  • 35,000-square-foot gaming area
  • Lowest limits in So Cal
  • Live entertainment weekends at Red Parrot Lounge
  • Restaurants: Café, Lindo Valle Mexican Grill, Deli & Pizzaria

Good to Know: Lindo Valle Mexican Grill has replaced buffets, the non-smoking gaming area is smoky from adjacent smoking areas, steak & eggs breakfast for $7 at Café is a hot item, the casino is open to players 18+, players under 21 must wear wrist bands and will not be served alcohol, free open-air parking.

Online: casinopauma.com

Golden Acorn Casino

Neighborhood: Campo, CA, 58 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino & Travel Center, opened in 2001

Casino Highlights: Slots

Why Go: Situated in the majestic Campo mountains, Golden Acorn Casino is one of the slots-only casinos in San Diego, with over 350 slot machines.

From penny slots to high-limit machines, favorites include The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune. While several San Diego casinos have attached hotels, Golden Acorn Casino has a travel center. 

This makes it the perfect casino for slot machine lovers, van lifers, long-haul truck drivers, and other automotive travelers.

Casino Amenities:

  • Casino open 24-7, including the travel center
  • Golden Grill – casual dining, American & Mexican-style cuisine (limited hours)
  • Player’s Bar – bar offering a variety of beer, wine, spirits, and an array of appetizers
  • Del Oro Deli – sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, hot wings, burritos, rice bowls, and fries
  • Features daily gaming promotions

Travel Center Amenities:

  • A 3,000-square-foot convenience store
  • Low-cost fuel – “the cheapest gas in the area.”
  • Public restrooms
  • ATM
  • Shower facilities
  • Laundry facilities
  • Overnight parking

Good to Know: Golden Acorn is open to players 18+, slot machines are regularly updated, players 50+ receive senior discounts on Mondays, guests can join the Player’s Gold Club for free, and it is wheelchair accessible.

Online: goldenacorncasino.com

Jamul Casino

Neighborhood: Jamul, CA, 28 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino (future Casino Hotel), opened in 2016

Casino Highlights: slots, table games, high-limit rooms, poker room

Why Go: Jamul Casino is the newest San Diego County casino and the closest to San Diego, California. The three-story casino is owned and managed by the Jamul Indian Village of the Kumeyaay Nation.

This casino is a favorite among San Diegans for its gaming, entertainment, and restaurants, plus its proximity to San Diego. The tribe is in the planning stages of a Casino Hotel and Event Center project with a new 16-story hotel, multi-purpose bingo hall, event center, and 6-story parking structure.

Casino Amenities:

  • 200,000-square-foot casino with 46 table games and 1,700 slot machines
  • 10-table poker room, full bar, table-side dining
  • High Limit Slot Room with dedicated bar
  • High Limit Asian Games Room with 4 Baccarat tables, 1 Face Up Pai Gow Poker table
  • High Limit VIP lounge
  • 7 restaurants
  • The Rooftop private events venue, 10,000 square feet, panoramic views
  • JIVe Lounge with live entertainment
  • 5 “best of” first-place awards by San Diego Union-Tribune readers

Good to Know: Jamul Casino is a 21+ casino, and the calendar of entertainment and events is on the website. There is a non-smoking slot room, all restaurants are smoke-free, and free covered parking.

Online: jamulcasinosd.com

Pala Casino Spa & Resort

Neighborhood: Pala, CA, 51 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino hotel, opened in 2003

Casino Highlights: Pala Craps, Pala Roulette

Why Go: If you’re looking for an adult luxury getaway, Pala Casino could be your casino resort. Pala Casino Spa & Resort, owned and managed by the Pala Band of Mission Indians, caters to adults.

Even the pool complex, complete with Poolside Café & Bar, fire pits, waterfalls, and hot tubs, is for hotel guests 18+. At night, there are scheduled concert events at the outdoor Pala Casino Starlight Theater.

The resort also has an indoor concert venue. Concerts are 21+ events. For RV travelers, there is a highly-rated RV park on the property.

Casino Amenities:

  • 86,000-square-foot casino floor with 15,000 square feet of smoke free gaming
  • 2,250 slot machines, reels, poker video, progressive machines  
  • 64 table games, including 47 Blackjack variant tables
  • 3 high-limit rooms – slots, table games, private lounge
  • Poker room
  • Live music daily at Center Bar on the gaming floor
  • Loosest slots (#2)
  • Best slot tournaments (#1)
  • 7 restaurants at Pala Casino

Hotel Amenities:  

  • Four-Diamond hotel & spa
  • 425 deluxe rooms
  • 82 luxury suites
  • Pool complex, including Olympic-size pool (all pools 18+)
  • 12 restaurants (including casino restaurants)
  • 10,000-square-foot spa with 14 treatment rooms, boutique, salon, steam rooms, sauna
  • Best casino resort (#3)
  • Best entertainment (#2)

Good to Know: Pala is a 21+ casino with free separate casino and hotel parking garages, electric vehicle charging available, and a calendar of concerts and events on the website. The casino, hotel, and rooms are wheelchair accessible. It’s not a kid-friendly resort.

Hotel Reservations:

Pechanga Resort Casino

Neighborhood: Temecula, CA, 1 hour from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino hotel, opened in 2002, massive renovation completed in 2021

Casino Highlights: Blackjack, roulette, and dice tables

Aerial view of the Pechanga Resort Casino

Why Go: If you’re looking for a real Las Vegas-style casino resort experience, Pechanga Resort Casino could be your #1 choice. Owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, it’s one of the largest in the United States.

This recently renovated casino hotel incorporates hi-tech amenities in rooms and suites. Spa treatments of all kinds are available in a massive, new spa.

The Cove pool complex is on 4.5 acres and has four pools, three hot tubs, 27 private cabanas, two waterslides, and the Coveside Grill. It’s open to Pechanga hotel guests, Pechanga RV resort guests, and Pechanga Club members.

Casino Amenities:

  • 200,000-square-foot gaming floor
  • 5,400 slot machines, 152 table games, 38 poker tables (nonsmoking poker room)*
  • State-of-the-art 700-seat bingo room*
  • 14,000-square-foot High Limit salon, Feng Shui design (for luck), VIP amenities
  • Best Casino Service (#2)
  • Best Blackjack (#1)

Pechanga’s poker room and bingo are temporarily closed and we don’t have info about when they will reopen.

Hotel Amenities:

  • Four-diamond luxury resort hotel
  • 1,090 guest rooms and suites
  • 23,000-square-foot spa, salon, and fitness center
  • 13 pools and pool spas
  • 20 restaurants and bars
  • Shops at Pechanga
  • Journey Golf Course, 72 holes, award-winning sustainable design, restaurant, pro shop
  • Pechanga Theater (performance venue)
  • Pechanga Summit (private events venue)
  • Best Casino Resort (#2)
  • Best Casino Resort Pool – The Cove (#1)
  • Best Casino Resort Golf Course (#1)

Good to Know: Pechanga Resort Casino is a 21+ casino, no smoking in the casino, but designated smoking area outside, hotel rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and a golf course, mountain, or valley views, free self-parking

Hotel Reservations: pechanga.com

Valley View Casino & Hotel

Neighborhood: Valley Center, CA, 51 minutes from downtown San Diego

Casino Type: Casino hotel, opened in 2001

Casino Highlights: High Limit slots area, Blackjack, and Richer Roulette

Why Go: High in the Palomar Mountains, Valley View Casino offers premier gaming, first-class amenities, and breathtaking views.

One of the most sophisticated casinos in San Diego County, it boasts beautiful opulent hotel rooms and six premier restaurants. The stylish casino features a variety of exciting slot machines and your favorite table games.

Like most San Diego casinos, you must be 21+ to enter the premises. All hotel amenities are exclusive to hotel guests. Hotel access is by invitation only.

Casino Amenities:

  • 90,000-square-foot gaming floor with over 2,000 slot machines
  • Secluded High-Limit slot machine area ($.25-$10 games)
  • Single-deck, double-deck, and multi-deck Blackjack
  • Fortune Pai Gow Poker Progressive
  • Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em
  • Three Card Poker
  • Richer Roulette – an innovative version of Vegas-style roulette, exclusive to Valley View
  • Best Casino Promotions (#1)
  • Best Casino (#2)
  • Best Casino Service (#3)
  • Best Casino Players Club (#3)
  • Luckiest Casino (#2)
  • Five levels of player’s club membership – red, blue, silver, gold, and black
  • Entertainment calendar with a rotating list of events

Hotel Amenities:

  • 108 guestrooms and suites
  • Six eateries – The Café, Patties & Pints, Black & Blue, Snax, Stix, and Sweets
  • Award-winning Maine Lobster Buffet (servers bring food selections to your table)
  • Infinity pool overlooking the majestic Palomar Mountains
  • Valley View Casino & Hotel Retail Store

Good to Know: Valley View Casino & Hotel has non-smoking casino space with over 400 slot machines, a non-smoking video poker bar, and membership to any level of their player’s club is based on play. The Maine Lobster Buffet is available to qualified player’s club members only.

Hotel Reservations: valleyviewcasino.com

What do you think are the best San Diego casinos and casino hotels?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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