Me and my crew

The last time I visited Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut was about 20 years ago. It was a late night trip from Boston, the kind which young, single men embark upon because they can. I left with a friend at around midnight and arrived at the casino in 90 minutes. After a few hours gambling, we returned to Boston, greeted by the rising sun and ready to sleep into the afternoon.

As for Foxwoods itself, I remember a parking garage, the casino floor, and little else—not even if I won or lost (probably lost).

I was vaguely aware the casino had grown into a resort in the coming years, with hotels, a golf course, concerts, and boxing, but in the intervening two decades I’d been to Las Vegas, 3,000 miles away, more than the 100 mile scamper to Southeastern Connecticut.

Now, approaching 50 with two tweener sons in tow, my thoughts were less about clubbing and card sharping and more about how to keep rambunctious boys occupied over a long, winter break. After perusing the Foxwoods website and all the children’s activities listed, I thought this could be the kind of quick getaway we all needed. Why not roll the dice?


How has Foxwoods changed in those intervening two decades? I’m happy to report it is indeed as advertised. There was much to do for both child and parent.

Specifically for the kids, there was an escape room, a smash room (with bats and rods you pulverize old bottles and computer parts), a bowling alley, an arcade, go carts, pottery, virtual reality games, holo decks, an ice skating rink and innumerable candy and sweet shops. And this was in winter!

For the warmer seasons, there is a zip line, swimming, golf, tennis, and nature trails. I’m not suggesting spending a week there, but our two days was full, and we didn’t even get to many of the activities mentioned.

If you are a foodie, Foxwoods has you covered. From simple places such as Subway and Pizzeria Regina to high end steak and fish houses. Be warned, however, prices are high, which is to be expected in a resort setting, and if you are gluten and dairy free, be prepared to bring your own supplies. I enjoyed most of what I ate, but much of it was a stomach ache waiting to happen.


Onto the real reason anyone comes to Foxwoods, kids or not: gambling.

There is something exciting about gathering at a casino. In the same way we could stream a movie but can’t reproduce the theater experience, I don’t believe the casino will ever go away. But the face of gaming is changing.

The Foxwoods casino is not the smoky lair of cigar chomping sharps it once was. There are still the poker rooms and all the table games, but some things are quite different.

Roulette, for example. For most of the history of gambling, one stood around the roulette wheel with other players while the croupier spun the ball and everyone placed bets manually. A croupier still spins the wheel, but it’s at the front of a bingo hall style arrangement and all bets are made on touch screens.

Touch screens mainly exist for slots too, and the simple slot of yesteryear is hard to find. The one-armed bandit had his appendage lopped off, and you either push a button or play some weird style slot-bingo game. They were all so overwhelming I didn’t play them much.

The only table game that remains mostly how I remember it (I never played craps or any of the exotics such as baccarat) is blackjack, and it’s also the one I enjoy the most. In my two days at Foxwoods, however, I only played blackjack for five minutes.

Why? For one thing, it was hard to find a table where the minimum bet was not $15 and up. Only on Monday, mid-day, while the kids were go carting did I sneak away and find a $10 minimum table with a lonely dealer looking for a player.

I don’t count myself a great gambler, but I had an incredible run. I won five hands in a row, lost one, and then bet all my winnings on one last play. The dealer busted, and I walked away with $62 in those five minutes. You might be mocking my status as a high roller, but the dealer and box man looked at me as if I had been card counting.

That’s as much table gambling as I did during the two day visit. The more you play, you will lose, and in any event I was looking forward more to sports betting, something new to the area.


Just as the casino floor is an electric setting, the sports book can also generate the same level of excitement. For decades, it was only available in Las Vegas or Atlantic City—or illegally. Having a bookie was a staple of many people’s lives, but who knows if they were going to pay off, and what if you were the one coming up short?

But the legal sports book, if you could get there, was a party. Check out the big board, make your bets at the window, grab a drink, watch the game and collect cash if you won.

For those of us who couldn’t get to a sports book and didn’t want to dabble in the shady side of sports betting, fantasy sports was a revelation.

I had an internship in college at the dawn of fantasy sports, the mid-1990s. I actually fielded telephone calls to help people set their line ups, and player prices were published in USA Today. The internet destroyed this model, specifically Yahoo, and the home fantasy draft night became an instant classic. Buddies assembling for beers, pizza, and an evening of strategizing over picks. Everyone threw $50 or $100 or more into the pool, and at the end of the season the winner collected.

The faster the internet got, all drafts could be accomplished remotely in under an hour, so the home draft party went away quickly. And then before you knew it, drafting with friends went away too. Yahoo, which had destroyed the company where I worked, was in turn destroyed by Draft Kings and Fan Duel.

With these fantasy sports apps, you didn’t have to wait until the end of the season to collect and you didn’t even need to know your opponent. You could win daily in almost any sport. Though comically defined as a contest of “skill,” it was via this loophole that gamblers could bet daily on sports lineups.

But there’s still more. Recent court cases made sports betting legal in all States if they so choose. Even Indian reservations, prior to these decisions, only offered traditional casino gambling. I can play fantasy football in Massachusetts for money but not bet on the outcome of a Patriots game. Yet I can drive 30 minutes into New Hampshire and that bet on the Patriots is now kosher. Sooner or later, all the States will fall and allow it. Connecticut, where Foxwoods is located, recently became one of the States to permit sports betting.

All of this is a long way around detailing my disappointment with the sports book at Foxwoods. It still has a unique energy, but I quickly learned the book, sponsored and run by Draft Kings, is identical to the one you can find on the app. For old time’s sake, I made one bet at the window (a winner), but the rest of my sports betting at Foxwoods was done via the app in my room.

The face of sports betting we know today may be gone in ten years, maybe less. And that goes for casinos, too. Soon all the games we go to play at a casino may be available via app or on the net. They were shut down for a while (remember online poker?), but it logically follows they might have to return. If you can bet on a sporting event from an app why not be allowed to play blackjack on one?

There was no evidence, over the holidays, that people’s enthusiasm for going to a casino had lessened, and that could be pandemic fatigue. But with Omicron surging and Covid likely a permanent fixture, will bettors take to apps and eschew the sports book and the casino floor in general? This is yet to be seen, but it feels like an eventuality places such as Foxwoods will have to come to grips with.


Complaints about the resort I had few. There was a contretemps with a security guard who said my ten year old son could not be unsupervised when I played a slot machine. He was only a few feet away from me and off the casino floor, and I wanted to show him how a slot worked, but this guard apparently thought the quiet child standing still watching me, who could find his way back to the hotel room if he wanted to, was in danger of running wild at any moment. Maybe it was some kind of casino rule, but it made little sense to me.

The only food mishap we had was being unable to order pizza at the California Pizza Kitchen. Amazingly, we were told the restaurant had run out of pizza. I had to wonder what would be the next to fall: the kitchen or the California part. But with so many other places to eat, it was merely a curiosity.

In the hotel room, you can still make long distance, landline phone calls, which my sons found fascinating. They both have cell phones, so any call they make is covered, but they just had to try calling someone the old fashion way. Each call was one minute and cost $7.00. The checkout lady was nice enough to erase one of the charges when I expressed shock.

This may sound cheap, and it probably was, but in truth, if you are looking for an affordable few days over a break, Foxwoods is not a bad option. Between rooms and food and activities, the bill may have come in at $1,000. Sound high? Try going to Disney over Christmas break. You might pay $10,000 before all is said and done.

The lack of pizza at the pizza kitchen might point up supply chain problems and some activities were less available due to a worker shortage. The arcade, formerly open seven days a week, had been cut to five.

Some of the employees seemed to lack basic knowledge about the facility. I was told there were walking trails outside the hotel, but no one I spoke to could tell me precisely where they were. The best direction we got led us to the back of a parking garage.

Yet I can’t blame them entirely. The facility is massive. 20 years ago I remember a parking lot and the casino. Today, the resort comprises three hotels–the Fox Tower being almost 30 stories high–an outlet mall, dozens of restaurants, and all the activities I mentioned previously. You may eat more than you care to, but just getting from activity to activity you will take enough steps to make your Fit Bit or Apple Watch very happy.

The resort’s slogan is “The Wonder of it All.” This is apt. It’s not like going to an exotic, foreign locale, but for a couple of days, if you want a getaway in New England where there is literally something for everyone, you might consider Foxwoods.

About The Author

Randy Steinberg has been a Blast film critic since 2011. He has a Master's Degree in Film/Screenwriting from Boston University. He taught screenwriting at BU from 1999-2010. In 2020, he joined the Boston Online Critics Film Association (BOFCA). Randy can be contacted at his website:

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