Family

What a Family Can ‘Win’ at a Casino Resort

This father saw big gains for his crew of six

For parents, the never-ending challenge is to find something new, entertaining, educational, and satisfying for kids to do on weekends and with the family.

Surprisingly, you can find all of the above in resorts that also have casinos (the gambling part is not for the kids, of course — read on). The casino nearest us is the pride of the Pequot, Foxwoods, which rises Emerald City-like out of the cornfields of central Connecticut, about an hour and 40 minutes from Boston and about three-and-a-half hours from New York.

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Like many casinos, do your homework first — the Foxwood complex offers a remarkably welcoming environment for kids, while allowing parents to hit the spa or casino for a short time (assuming the kids are old enough to be left alone or you’ve got babysitting covered).

It’s also a great way to educate your kids about what the “glamour” of gambling really looks like. Gamblers may win every so often, but by and large they don’t look like winners. This is an important distinction to hard-wire into your kids, so that the allure of blackjack and the slots vanishes before the advertising culture has a chance to build it into their young brains.

When we got to the casino — my wife and I have four children ages 8 through 16 — we first went bowling. All of the lanes offer a super-luxury feel; the experience is like going to a private club that happens to have bowling instead of going to the neighborhood lanes. Then came the arcade. Then came swimming.

Foxwoods is the proud possession of the Pequot Tribe, and they display their history in the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, where Native American artists in residence demonstrate their skills.

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Foxwoods has a number of pools, indoors and out. The one we visited is on the ninth floor, alongside the spas. The pool is technically indoors, but it’s covered by a high-ceiling glass enclosure offering a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. It’s a lovely place to unwind and play together.

The nice thing about having the spas adjacent to the pool is that Mom and Dad (separately, of course) can take a break. While one parent watches the kids, the other can enjoy a luxurious hour or two with the full accoutrement of spa services, including an adults-only hot tub, TV room, and elegantly appointed lockers.

Thus refreshed, the parent can rejoin the family, energized for the ongoing effort that is parenthood.

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Foxwoods is the proud possession of the Pequot Tribe, and they display their history in the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, where Native American artists in residence demonstrate their skills, and where Native American holidays, such as Schemitzun, the Feast of Green Corn and Dance, took place on a recent weekend.

If you have any guilt at all about taking your kids to a casino resort, learning about Native American culture and sharing that with your children will more than compensate.

Casinos also frequently have low-priced, kid-friendly shows, heavy on magic and ventriloquism. The weekend we visited, we caught Criss Angel’s new production, The Supernaturalists, featuring Angel himself and nine carefully chosen rock star-level magicians. Check schedules before you go; these shows sell out.

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One of the best things about our local casino-resort, we found, is that the casinos themselves are discretely tucked away on an upper floor; the kids aren’t subjected to that long stroll past the slot machines every time they want to get from point A to point B. It’s a nice touch that makes the resort truly family friendly.

Overall, your kids will have a great time — and they’ll see for themselves that the people who arrive in little red sports cars at casinos often go home in big blue buses. That’s a lesson every kid should learn.

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