The Best Value Close to The Strip
Located on Koval Lane, tucked just East of the Las Vegas Strip sits a gem for the value-conscious gambler known as Ellis Island Casino. In addition to being a great location for the budget-minded gambler, it is also a popular haunt for locals, employees of other casinos and an all-around fun place. Overall, this casino is somewhat similar to the Longhorn, but unlike the Longhorn, it is convenient to The Strip.
Location and Ownership
Ellis Island Casino and Brewery is located just East of the Las Vegas Strip on Koval Lane. The section of Koval Lane upon which Ellis Island sits does not have much else on it except for a few condo/apartment buildings. There are some that suggest that Koval Lane is not necessarily the safest walk after dark, but walking there during daylight should not be much of a problem. I also would not personally be afraid to walk it at night, but I generally do not suggest anyone walk anywhere at night if they feel the least bit uncomfortable.
The casino is privately owned by one Gary Ellis who is also the owner of the adjacent Super 8 Motel. The site for the motel can be found here.
Much like the affiliation of the Downtown Grand with the Choice Hotels franchise, Gary Ellis likely operates his Off-Strip hotel as a Super 8 due to the access to the national booking network as well as easy access to all of the major third-party booking outlets.
For those who deem it a safe walk, the casino is very convenient to the Las Vegas Strip. Furthermore, given the spread of Lyft and Uber, Ellis Island is located such that a ride to The Strip would also not be terribly expensive.
Given its limited size, Ellis Island only offers the staple Table Games of Roulette, Craps and Blackjack. However, these games are generally offered at $5 betting minimums making them an extremely strong value compared to most properties on The Strip. While their website says that Live Blackjack is offered 24/7, that should come with the caveat, “If Blackjack is Open,” as there was no Blackjack during the times at which I was on the casino floor.
The website states that they also have 250+ slot machines, and while I did not go through the establishment and count all of the machines individually, 250 seems about right. The machines are situated both in and all around the bar to the left of the main entrance as well as around the restaurant, which is located on the far end of the property left of the main entrance. The table games are close to the players club which sits to the right of the main entrance.
Compared to the nearby Strip, Ellis Island also offers tremendous value on their Video Poker games with seven games that pay over 99% reported on VPFree2 and all of those games available for denominations as low as nickels.
Given the limited size of the casino, it should come as no surprise that Live Keno and Bingo are not offered, nor is there a separate sportsbook at the casino. The casino does offer a free Bingo game at 9:00a.m. on weekdays, but otherwise, does not normally offer Bingo.
There are ten total gaming tables consisting of one each of Roulette and Craps with the other eight tables being Blackjack.
Ellis Island generally has drink and free play coupons published in the Las Vegas Advisor book as well as the American Casino Guide. They also offer a wide variety of promotions year round with just one example being their Easter Promotion this year (2017) which was a $9.99 Dinner, but you get a voucher for $10 of Free Play for buying the dinner. Combined with the generous Video Poker machines, this results in an expected cost of literally a few pennies for the dinner.
Ellis Island is located in a pretty nondescript tan building which is only identifiable as a result of the large letters in front proclaiming, “Ellis Island Casino Brewery,” as well as the unremarkable signs bearing the Ellis Island logo.
The inside of the establishment is pretty dim and consists of the players club desk to the right of the entrance and towards the back, their few tables to the left of that, a large bar area in the middle of the establishment, and various machines surrounding all. Far from extravagant, the emphasis of Ellis Island is on value and, as if emphasizing that point, the ceiling is pretty standard drop tile that one would expect to see in just about any office building. There are large flat-screen TV’s wrapped around the bar area which are typically tuned into sporting events.
The machines, as one would expect of such a small casino, are very close to one another (or touching) on a side-to-side basis, but surprisingly, the spacing in terms of the walkway between sets of machines is more than adequate.
The cafe at Ellis Island is fairly simple and features a menu with selections and pricing that is comparable to a Denny’s, fortunately (in my opinion) the food is better than what one would receive at, “America’s Favorite Diner.” If one asks one’s server for the steak special, then that person will be presented with a top cut sirloin steak, choice of potato and green beans for $7.99. This price is available (as of the time of this writing) after playing $5 coin-in and printing out a voucher. This deal, at one time, included a free beer but no longer does.
Ellis Island also offers Metro Pizza and Julio’s Tacos.
The rooms at the Super 8 located near Ellis Island are the standard accommodations that one would expect from a Super 8. In order to carry the Super 8 flag, however, there are minimum brand standards that the property must adhere to that are inspected by the franchise on an annual basis.
In addition to the amenities that a Super 8 is required to offer, the Ellis Island Super 8 has a meeting room that can sit up to thirty people as well as an indoor pool and hot tub. While Ellis Island is a great value in many ways, unfortunately, the Super 8 also has a resort fee of $20.40 (plus tax) per night.
Ellis Island is called Casino and Brewery for a very good reason, and that is because the Ellis Island Brewery is located at the property and produces a wide variety of beers that are available in the cafe as well as at the casino bar. In addition to alcoholic beers, Ellis Island also produces a house root beer that will be sure to be one of the best you’ll ever have if you are a fan of root beer.
Ellis Island currently produces five different types of beers consisting of Light, Amber, Weiss, Stout and IPA year round as well as a variety of seasonal and specialty beverages available at various times throughout the year. During my visit to the property, I had both the Amber and the Stout using my free drinks coupons and have a positive opinion about both. The stout was especially good with the flavor being nearly perfect and extremely malty. The Amber was also delicious with an excellent aroma and very hoppy taste, but was perhaps just a little bit thin in mouthfeel.
Passport Players Club
Ellis Island Casino and Brewery is home to the Passport Players Club which is unique in that players earn cash as well as other comps in a pretty direct way based on their play. The comps come in the form of comp dollars. As of the time of this writing, a new players club cardholder receives a random amount of free play up to $500 just for signing up.
The Ellis Island Casino and Brewery is a very unique little place that offers tremendous value near the Las Vegas Strip. In addition to that, it is also largely a locals and casino employees haunt and is a great place to visit if you want to find people to talk to who can tell you about what it is like to live in the Las Vegas area.
Additionally, the cafe’s food was more than adequate and the beers that are brewed on-site (as well as the root beer) are nothing short of top notch.
For those of you looking to stretch your gambling dollar or to otherwise get away from the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip, Ellis Island is a great location to accomplish either of those goals.