In 2019, I made my first visit to Florida in over 20 years as part of my taking my first cruise out of Tampa. While there, I got to spend some time at the Hard Rock Tampa, which was undergoing a $700 million expansion and upgrade that mirrored a massive investment also going on at Hard Rock Hollywood.
Like Hollywood, I was quite impressed with what I encountered, even as the property was still mid-transformation. I spent a couple of sessions there during my visit last year, and in today’s post will share some of my impressions from that period of time.
The Casino Floor
Simply put, this place is enormous. There are multiple rooms with gaming options, including a smoke free mezzanine casino which is larger and more fully equipped than its counterpart in Hollywood (including 400 machines and live table games; I don’t recall seeing table games in Hollywood).
Their recent casino expansion added 33,000 square feet including more slot machines and table games, further cementing the sheer magnitude of the facility.
One interesting quirk about Tampa is the proliferation of 2 cent machines. A lot of the 88-cent bet style games were largely in the 2 cent denomination during my visit, which means $1.76 for all the features unlocked. There were areas that weren’t as heavy on the 2 cent machines but this was definitely the case in the greater room. So you’ll need to keep a close eye on what you’re playing as you navigate this casino.
As far as table games I played Blackjack during my visits; a new member promotion running at the time offered 5 $10 table game match bets at sign up and again if you returned within two weeks of sign-up, and was able to play on a $10 table once and a $15 table (which a $10 match play) once. Similar to Hollywood, the table game minimums seemed to be based on the busy-ness of the casino and were higher during peak times.
Video Poker pay tables weren’t anything to write home about; my recollection was they were better in Hollywood, but with a year of distance between those two visits I could certainly be wrong about that.
There’s two towers at Hard Rock Tampa – the older West Tower and the newly constructed East Tower. Not to say that the West Tower rooms are somehow a downgrade – like at Hollywood, where I stayed in the oldest rooms on the property and they were huge and comfortable, you’ll find all rooms at Hard Rock Tampa to be well appointed and quite comfortable.
Both of the marquee Florida Hard Rock properties clearly have a level of comfort and luxury they aim for with their hotels, and so you’ll find these a good choice if you’re going to be staying for a bit.
The Seminole Wild Card program at Hard Rock Tampa is linked to all six of the Seminole tribe’s Florida properties, such as Hard Rock Hollywood, but are not linked to Hard Rock properties in other parts of the country, like in Atlantic City.
They don’t specifically spell out how fast you earn points or comp dollars; Steve Bourie wrote a piece a few years ago that said it was based on a game’s expected house advantage, so the higher the theoretical win for the casino, the more you earn (and payouts weren’t far off the average for games of their type). I didn’t find earning points or comps to be terribly difficult; certainly easier than most of the national programs I’ve reviewed here, but that makes sense because of the limited benefit of using at just the Seminole Florida properties.
At the time of writing this, they had a tier match program underway to match with many of the other Hard Rock properties (not including Atlantic City, interestingly) as well as national programs like Mlife and Caesars Rewards. It was scheduled to end on December 31, so if you’re reading this as the article first releases, and live nearby, now’s the time to take advantage.
They have a website where you can log in and review your offers for all their properties, as well as make reservations for rooms and so on.
Even during the renovations, this place was massive. There were four distinct gaming areas, plenty of variety in dining options, a food court, multiple parking garages… this is clearly a destination casino for that part of the country. The casino is one of the largest in the U.S., and top ten in the world.
Given the Hard Rock branding and connection, the theming goes beyond the Hard Rock Cafe that you’d expect on site, with various quotes and artifacts throughout the property, which is always a fun side benefit.
If you find yourself in the Tampa area, it’s definitely worth checking out at least once.