Casinos have always had a reputation as the ultimate escape – the perfect playground for adults, if you will. They are places where anyone can get away from the mundane everyday world and be Danny Ocean, or indeed Tess, for a few hours.
Escapism, sophistication, some enjoyable games and a dry martini or two – add to that the chance of winning some money too, and it becomes clear why the casino vacation is such a popular getaway.
A growing phenomenon
Of course, it also helps that the top casinos are invariably found in some of the world’s most exclusive resorts and cities – places that are well worth a visit on their own terms. The advent of online casinos, and their worldwide promotion, has only served to increase the popularity of casino gaming. So dust down your dinner jacket or your cocktail dress, and let’s explore some of the best casino destinations on the planet.
There’s no place like home, and Canada boasts its fair share of casino resorts. The River Rock Casino in Richmond is the largest establishment of its type in Western Canada. It covers 70,000 square feet, and has more than 900 slot machines and 14 poker tables. For those who fancy themselves as James Bond, there is even the high-stakes Dogwood Club, accessible to VIP members only.
Impressive though that is, however, it pales in comparison to the Casino de Montreal in Quebec. It covers five full floors, and is one of the largest casinos on the planet. Does big casino mean big wins? One local would certainly say it does – the casino hit the headlines just before Christmas when regular visitor Chi Hoc Huynh won a record $1.8 million on a slot machine.
One of the consequences of the online gaming revolution is that casino games have become hugely popular in some unexpected places, and Norway is a prime example. There are no land based casinos, but some well-known web-based ones are call Norway home, and the spilleautomater (that’s slot machines to the rest of us) are immensely popular. However, there is more to Norway’s casino culture than online slot games like magic stars.
Those wanting to experience the real thing can take a cruise on the biggest and best Norwegian Cruise Line casino on the water. Norwegian Escape has a wide choice of table games and slot machines, plus the obligatory VIP area for high rollers. The casino bar takes luxury to a whole new level, and you can even have a quick game of video poker while you enjoy your drink.
The original, and many say the best, destination for those wanting an evening of excitement and a taste of the millionaire lifestyle. Sure, there are bigger casinos, and there are glitzier casinos, but there is only one Monte Carlo Casino, and it has stood at the top of the tree for the last 150 years.
It is still the place to be seen for the rich and famous. Film stars love Monaco, and more than half of the Formula One community are based in Monte Carlo. Former driver and current TV presenter David Coulthard loved the Columbus Hotel so much, he decided to buy it.
The next destination on our list is another that might come as something of a surprise to the uninitiated. However, the Highlands Resort is fully deserving of its very own place in casino history. The Genting name is one that is now recognised around the world, but back in the 1960s, company founder Lim Goh Tong created his first casino under the most challenging of circumstances.
He had a dream and it was to construct a highland casino resort close to Kuala Lumpur. At the time, casinos were not allowed, and the closest hill was 200 KM away and completely covered with acres of dense forest. But such details did nothing to put him off. He cleared an incredible 10,000 acre area, and built everything from scratch. Roads, infrastructure, running water, the lot. He then succeeded in being granted Malaysia’s first, and still only, casino licence. The resort has now been operating for 50 years, and today, it includes shopping arcades, hotels and theme parks.
How can we not mention Vegas? It is, quite simply, the most famous gambling destination on planet earth, and who would argue with the contention that its reputation goes even further? It is the place where dreams can come true and fortunes are to be made. That $1.8 million payout sounded impressive earlier, but Vegas does everything bigger and better. The highest payout ever? A 25 year old software engineer scooped a cool $39.7 million from a $100 wager in a Megabucks machine in March 2003. 15 years later, the record still stands, but for just how long?