July 2011: For casino gambling near Orlando, you must drive a bit, though Jai Alai and dog races (in season) are nearby. The Florida Legislature discusses gambling options almost every year, however, and a tight budget makes the additional income attractive. Things could change. Current gambling options include:
• Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Located a little more than an hour from Disney on the Orlando side of Tampa, the Hard Rock comes closest to traditional Las Vegas-style gaming.
• Cruise ships. Gambling is legal once a cruise ship enters international waters, and gambling day cruises depart from Port Canaveral only to cross that line, float for a while, and return in the evening. Currently, one ship offers the service, though the number fluctuates since ships float and move about easily. Deals can include free drinks, entertainment, and parking since they make their money off the gambling. They usually offer free bus transportation from Orlando. For a list of current providers, check the Port Canaveral website.
• Jai Alai. A strange game of ultra-fast balls, the Orlando venue opens only seasonally at its location about 45 minutes from Disney.
• Dog races. The Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, one of Florida’s oldest, is 20 minutes north of downtown Orlando, or about 45 minutes from Disney.