Blackjack in the Breeze: Outdoor and Poolside Gambling in Las Vegas

Land Based Casinos Entertainment
Marc Meltzer

Updated by Marc Meltzer

Last Updated 18th Jun 2024, 12:55 PM

Blackjack in the Breeze: Outdoor and Poolside Gambling in Las Vegas

An overly stylized photo of people not getting the cards wet while playing blackjack at the Fortuna Pool at Caesars Palace. (Image: courtesy of Caesars Palace)

It’s summer and a great time to enjoy the sun and fresh air while catching some rays in Las Vegas. The pool scene here has something for everyone, gamblers included. 

This year, there are more outdoor gaming options in Las Vegas than ever before, thanks to new pools with casino amenities at Durango and Fontainebleau. 

Gamblers now can hit bartop video poker, keno, and blackjack machines outside at three different casino pools, play blackjack while in the pool at another, and at a handful of others enjoy the games while outside by mist-coolers in the shade. 

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about best enjoying casino locations with gaming tables outside during spring and summer months.

Las Vegas Poolside Gaming

Gambling by the pool sounds like an amazing experience that every Las Vegas casino should offer all the time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

There are only a handful of Las Vegas casinos that offer poolside gaming during the summer months. The games are different depending on where you play.

  • Caesars Palace: Swim-up Blackjack
  • Circa: Poolside Blackjack
  • Fontainebleau: Poolside Bartop Games and Blackjack
  • Golden Nugget: Poolside Blackjack and Craps
  • Red Rock: Poolside Blackjack
  • Wynn: Poolside Blackjack and Craps

All of the poolside gaming areas have one important thing in common – the games are in a shaded area. This might sound obvious, but direct sunlight makes temperatures feel even hotter.

Details On Poolside Machines, Blackjack and Craps

Caesars Palace is the only casino that offers swim-up blackjack. Players can take a dip in the Fortuna Pool, sit on a stool a few feet away from a waterfall, and play blackjack. There’s a bar nearby so drink service is usually quick.

Poolside gaming is usually only a daytime amenity at the casinos. Wynn is different.

Blackjack players can enjoy outdoor gaming under the sun at the Wynn and Encore pool. Those visiting XS can play blackjack at night under the stars with beats provided by the nightclub. There is no other gaming experience like this.

The poolside blackjack at Circa is in a covered area at Stadium Swim. Players don’t have a view of the massive video wall that shows all of the games but this space is a respite from the sun.

The Oasis pool complex at Fontainebleau features seven pools, a restaurant, and more than 2,000 square feet of space for gaming. The covered casino has both bartop gaming (video poker, keno, slots, etc.) and live blackjack.

Fontainebleau supposedly is considering adding craps to the poolside gaming area next year. Currently, the two options for players who want to roll the bones outside are at Wynn and the Golden Nugget.

Fontainebleau poolside gambling

An exclusive peak at the poolside gaming area at Fontainebleau. We'd love to see some craps and roulette here. (Image: courtesy of Fontainebleau)

Outdoor Gaming Away From The Pool

Two Las Vegas casinos have outdoor bar-top gaming throughout the year. Neither are connected to the pool and both are away from the Vegas Strip.

The George at Durango Casino in the city’s southwest quadrant, about nine miles from the Strip, has an outdoor patio loaded with video screens that serve as an extension of the attached sportsbook.

Video poker and keno players visit the bar and play the IGT Peak Bartop machines. This bar can be surprisingly busy during weekday afternoons as it’s also the only bar where The George has Happy Hour.

Downtown, the Carousel Bar opened in front of the Plaza last year. This place features Aristocrat Winner’s World and IGT Peak Bartop machines that feature Buffalo slots, video poker, keno, and other games.

Notably, the video poker machines at both these off-Strip locations have better paytables than at Fontainebleau, the lone Vegas Strip option with outdoor video poker, according to  

There’s also outdoor blackjack at Carnaval Court, outside of Harrah’s on the Strio. 

Expect Worse Odds when Gambling Outdoors

Do know that if you want to gamble outdoors, you likely won’t get the most favorable odds. If there’s an outside game that pays 3:2 for a natural blackjack, we haven’t found it yet. 

Las Vegas casinos typically only pay 6:5 for outdoor blackjack. That means when you get dealt a blackjack with, say, a $10 bet, you’re only getting paid $12, instead of the traditional $15 you’d expect paying 3:2. 

When casinos lower the payout like this, they add 1.39% to their house edge. This may not impact a particular session since the house edge is based on millions of hands. However, it stands to impact any bankroll over time.

Likewise, betting minimums for pool-adjacent blackjack are almost never lower than $15, with a place like Wynn usually being $25. 

While 6:5 blackjack is becoming more common (unfortunately) across the Strip in low-limit games, even downtown at Circa, which only offers 3:2 payouts inside, only pays 6:5 for blackjacks outside by the pool.

Is It True You Can Get Pool Access for Free if You Gamble?

Poolside gaming is often advertised as a complimentary amenity for hotel guests. But there’s been a longtime myth that the way to get into a casino pool for free is to say you’re there to gamble – the belief being that the casinos must allow entry to anyone who wants to play at their poolside tables. This is and isn’t true.

According to NRS 463.0129, casinos must allow all players access to games. The regulation states that casinos are required to: “ensure that gaming is conducted honestly, competitively and free of criminal and corruptive elements, all gaming establishments in this state must remain open to the general public and the access of the general public to gaming activities must not be restricted in any manner except as provided by the Legislature.”

However, casinos can ask the Nevada Gaming Control Board for a waiver, according to Section 5.210 

“A licensee may not, directly or indirectly, restrict access to any portion of an establishment wherein gaming is conducted, through the assessment or imposition of a fee, except upon receiving prior written administrative approval from the Chair consistent with policies of the Commission, or as approved pursuant to NRS 463.408”

In other words, casinos may ask for a waiver to limit access to certain gaming areas. Michael Lawton, Senior Economic Analyst for the GCB, tells me that “two casinos have this waiver.” He did not, however, share with me which did.




Meet The Author

Marc Meltzer
Marc Meltzer

Marc was born and raised in New York City. He now resides in Las Vegas, where he’s been covering casinos and gaming for more than a decade. The gaming floor is the epicenter of Las Vegas casinos but so many great Las Vegas memories happen at bars, restaurants and other attractions. Finding the right combination goes a long way to a fun Las Vegas experience.Marc has been gambling since elementary school when he learned about sports betting and playing poker. Visiting casinos started a quest for knowledge from finding the best gaming odds and rewards to get the best bang for the buck on every visit.

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