Best Casino and Race Track | Inn of The Mountain Gods |
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Step right up and place your bets! The village of Ruidoso offers excellent opportunities for those wishing to play a game with Lady Luck. Maybe you dream of hitting it big, or maybe you just want to relax and have some fun. Although gambling can be viewed as a solo sport, spending a day at a Ruidoso casino can be a social and interactive activity to share with friends and family.

Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino

Billy the Kid Casino is open daily in the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino complex. They consider themselves “your hometown casino” with “the friendliest staff,” and with more than 300 gaming machines, there are plenty from which to choose. They’ve recently added electronic gaming, ranging from low-stakes to high-limit slots.Horses Racing at the Ruidoso Downs

Crystal Sifuentes, director of operations, tells us a unique feature is “handicapping tournaments weekly in our Simulcast next to our casino.” With a $5 buy-in, Billy’s Shootout Six Handicapping Contest happens every Thursday at the Race Book and has a different selection of tracks and races each month. The Race Book is a more intimate space with food and bar service within Ruidoso Downs. Another perk is the casino rewards club, free for individuals 21 years of age and older, which allows you to earn points for free play opportunities and even discounts at the track.

If the lights and sounds of roulette and slots don’t inspire you, horse racing at the Downs is a totally different kind of exciting! Experienced gambler and frequent guest Brian Ramirez shares that, for him, the attraction is “the ability to research previous race experience and outcomes in the purchased program along with the enthusiastic environment during live races.”

The Downs is home to both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing, most notably the All American Futurity, which experts consider the “richest race” in the American Quarter Horse realm and the richest race for two-year-olds of any breed. You can check out live racing at the Downs on weekends typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Don’t forget, you can still place your bets on races from all around the country at the Race Book during the off-season, so you never have to miss a day!

When it comes to placing your horse-racing bet, there are important steps to follow. First up, choose your bet, and yes — if you share my approach, strategize by picking your favorite number or horse name! Watch for what the minimum wager is and, if you are a rookie, you may want to keep it simple by choosing a horse to win, place, or show.

Brian advises newbies, “Do your research. To every live gambling bet, there is a strategy, and it is important to understand every scenario possible to maximize your chances of winning.”

Horserace Betting Lingo

  • Win: Your horse must come in the first position.
  • Place: Your horse must come in first or second position.
  • Show: Your horse must come in first, second, or third position.
  • Across the board: Win, place, or show for a single horse on one ticket.
  • Exacta: First two horses in the exact order.
  • Exacta box: First two horses in any order.
  • Trifecta: First three horses in exact order.
  • Trifecta box: First three horses in any order.
  • Superfecta: First four horses in exact order.

Note that all these designations are according to the official results of the order of finish.

A more advanced player may elect to place a permutation bet in the form of an exacta, trifecta, or superfecta; in other words, selecting more than one horse in a race and possibly increasing your chance of winning. Watch for the official results, as only then can you cash in your ticket with a teller or use the self-service window to claim your winnings (it doesn’t hurt to double-check even if you think you lost).

Also bear in mind that, at Ruidoso Downs, live race betting offers what is called a “pool bet.” This means the betting stakes on a given race are pooled and paid out similar to a lottery, with winnings shared among customers with winning tickets.

If you find yourself returning to play a little too often, Crystal says, ‘We have staff onsite to help with responsible gaming.”

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Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & CasinoCasino Table

Many visitors are drawn to Inn of the Mountain Gods, located on the Mescalero Apache Reservation and a quick ten-minute drive from Ruidoso. Their blackjack, craps, and roulette tables are active every weekday, with blackjack tournaments available to the public.

Brian says, “Blackjack and roulette are definitely my favorite games. The live tables are where I want to be.” They also have a dedicated poker room with a starting buy-in of $40 for the Hold’em contest up to no max bet for the Omaha contest. If traditional gambling is not your forte, Inn of the Mountain Gods has a special place just for sports fans. Sportsbook at the Inn is located between the Big Game Sports Bar and the Apache Spirit Club. This location is ideal to not only watch your favorite sports teams but make some wagers while you are there! This area features a central jumbo screen, 12 large screens, and even cozy loungers where you can soak in all the games.

A key incentive to making this your regular casino is joining the Apache Spirit Club: The more you play, the more points you earn toward monthly discounts, free slot play, hotel stays, concert tickets, and more.

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Casino Apache Travel Center

Owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe, the Casino Apache Travel Center is on Highway 70 just west of Ruidoso on the eastern edge of the Mescalero Apache Reservation. Popular with visitors and locals alike, they offer a full-service truck stop and convenience store for those needing to fuel up on gas and snacks before hitting the road. Laundry and shower facilities are available for commercial truck drivers passing through. Casino Apache is a 24/7 non-smoking establishment, and patrons are sure to find their favorites games including blackjack, roulette, three-card poker, and, of course, the stars of the show . . . the slots!

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As the old saying goes, you have to play to win, undoubtedly applicable to many things in life. Now, who out there doesn’t want an opportunity to win? Head out and take your chance by visiting Mescalero and Ruidoso to get your gambling on!

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