As long as the odds are good, a serious gambler will lay down his chips almost anywhere. But for the rest of us, a casino is about more than the money we stand to win or lose. It’s about the experience, the total package: the food, the service, the entertainment, the atmosphere. We go because we want to feel like James Bond, minus the constant threat of death from a pack of colourful baddies.
Watered-down drinks and a lackluster breakfast buffet don’t cut it. We demand wild nightlife, Michelin-starred restaurants, multi-million dollar shows, luxury shopping and spas, and the kind of insane amenities that make us feel like royalty.
So what if it’s all a ploy to keep us playing longer? Whether we’re dropping big bucks or only shovelling spare change into slot machines, we expect A-list treatment either way.
Las Vegas and Macao are renowned homes to some of the world’s best casinos, but they aren’t the only destinations for upscale, swanked-out, over-the-top gaming. Try one of these under-appreciated spots next time you have cash to burn.
Marina Bay Sands | Downtown Core, Singapore
The three towers of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands are the country’s most iconic and expensive structure. The resort was billed as the world’s priciest standalone casino property when it opened in 2010. Today it includes a 2,561-room hotel, a convention-exhibition centre, a luxury mall, a museum, two large theatres, multiple dining and nightlife options, a skating rink, and a 15,000 sq m casino. The Marina Bay Sands Casino contains more than 350 table games, 2,300 slot machines, and 35 private gaming rooms spread out over three floors.
Casino de Monte-Carlo | Monaco
A true legend in the gaming game, the Casino de Monte-Carlo has been in operation since the mid-1800s. This elegant Beaux Arts establishment has lured a rich and famous clientele for a century and a half with its exquisite décor, luxury hotel, Michelin-starred restaurant, traditional games, and emphasis on old-world elegance. The Casino de Monte-Carlo is so extraordinarily glamorous that it served as a shooting location for Ocean’s Twelve and for more than one of James Bond’s cinematic escapades.
Casino de Ibiza | Ibiza Town, Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza: come for the techno, stay for the casino. The Balearic island is undoubtedly better known for its wild clubs and sexy beaches, but its casino is an admirable addition to its infamous love of excess. The Casino de Ibiza combines exciting gaming with indulgent design, innovative gastronomy, and a relaxing spa. There’s even an in-house babysitting service so parents can leave their children in safe hands while they squander their college tuition at the blackjack tables.
Sun City | North West Province, South Africa
Vegas glitz meets safari fun at South Africa’s opulent Sun City resort. The sprawling complex is comprised of four different hotels (Sun City, Cascades, The Cabanas, and The Palace of the Lost City) with a variety of gaming options. Sun City is also famous for arranging safaris in adjacent Pilanesberg, its two water theme parks, and its two golf courses. Watch out for crocs in the water hazard on the Lost City Golf Course’s 13th hole.
The Kurhaus | Baden-Baden, Germany
The Kurhaus in Baden-Baden has attracted day-trippers, spa and conference guests, revelers, gamblers, and sociable locals for almost two centuries, making it the oldest casino in Germany. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler was inspired by the author’s visit to the Kurhaus, and Marlene Dietrich once declared it “the most beautiful casino in the world.” A turbulent 20th century forced the casino to close for years, but since its revival, the Kurhaus has reclaimed its place as one of Europe’s – and the world’s – finest gambling institutions.
The Ritz Club | London, England
Only a select clientele can be found puttin’ on the Ritz at the Ritz Club in London. Tucked away in the basement of one of the city’s most iconic hotels, the Ritz Club is an ultra-exclusive private members’ club with four distinct areas: a restaurant, a bar with a smoking terrace, the Salon Privé lounge, and the principal gaming salon. Those lucky enough (and wealthy enough) to claim membership are granted access to the lavish casino 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Atlantis Casino | Paradise Island, Bahamas
It’s hard to imagine going to the Bahamas and doing anything other than laying on a beach, but the Atlantis makes it worth your while to venture indoors. At 60,000 square feet, it’s the Caribbean’s largest and plushest casino. It was once home to the world’s most expensive hotel room, and though it no longer bears that honour, it’s still home to 85 table games, over 700 slot machines, tournaments and events, glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly, a water park, a spa, a nightclub, and an oceanside golf course. Are you feeling lucky?