Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Casino Destinations
As far as gambling getaways go, places like Las Vegas, Macao, and Atlantic City are considered must-visit destinations. These cities have rightfully earned their reputation as gambling meccas, offering glitz, glamour, and non-stop entertainment. However, there are plenty of lesser-known casino destinations around the world – and these hidden gems deserve attention as well. Here are a few of our favourites.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
If you like travelling around Europe, you must have heard about Monte Carlo, the most famous among the nine districts that make up the city-state of Monaco. Nestled on the French Riviera, Monte Carlo is a leading tourist resort in Europe and home to the iconic Monte Carlo Casino (Casino de Monte-Carlo) – one of the most exclusive gambling facilities in the world.
Built in the 1850s at the order of the royal family, the building has more than 170 years of history. Its designer, Charles Garnier, is also the architect of the Paris Opéra. The building is decorated lavishly and ornately in the Beaux-Arts style, meaning “lovely art” in French, which resembles the Baroque in France and the Renaissance in Italy. The interior is stunning, with intricate ceiling designs and marble and ivory decorations. From the outside, it looks like a museum in a beautiful garden with a sweeping view over the bustling city.
What’s more, the casino is an entertainment complex that includes world-class opera and ballet performances. Inside its famously luxurious gaming room, you can play traditional games like slots, blackjack, craps, and English roulette. If you are into exploring something new, they also have a French roulette table and a Punto Banco table for you to try your luck on.
Marina Bay, Singapore
Marina Bay is located in the Central Area of the “Lion City” – Singapore – in Southeast Asia. One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is an enormous casino called Marina Bay Sands, known as “Asia’s most spectacular entertainment destination.” When it opened in 2010, it was one of the most expensive casino properties at S$8 billion (£4.8 billion).
Capable of accommodating up to 45,000 people, this resort is massive. It features three hotel towers with more than 2,500 rooms, a conference centre, a retail complex, a museum, multiple theatres, nightclubs, swimming pools, and restaurants run by famous chefs, as well as the largest atrium casino in the world, making it a must-visit destination for punters.
San José, Costa Rica
Modern and contemporary San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica in Central America. Packed with bars, nightclubs, and live music, the city is also well known for the variety and affordability of casinos.
Though there are over 40 casinos in Costa Rica, more than half are in popular touristy areas in San José. Some popular ones include the Barceló San José Palacio Spa & Casino, the Best Western Irazú, and the Hotel Presidente. Unlike the glitzy and glamorous casinos in Las Vegas, the casinos here adopt a more laid-back atmosphere with a more relaxed and casual dress code. In addition to the standard games you’d expect to find, many casinos offer a variety of locally popular card games, such as a Costa Rican version of rummy, for players looking to experience something fresh.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Los Angeles, known as the “City of Angels” and “La La Land,” thrives on entertainment. The city’s proximity to “the home of gambling” – Las Vegas – means that those who are into glitzy fun and gaming entertainment have many options, whether they play at the local casinos or make the four-hour drive to Vegas.
However, unlike Las Vegas, you won’t find slot machines at Los Angeles casinos, as certain gambling forms are illegal according to the California State Constitution. However, many poker and blackjack tables are available. The Los Angeles area currently has six huge poker rooms, all state-licensed and regulated by the California Bureau of Gambling Control. The two most popular ones are Bicycle Casino and Commerce Casino. Card rooms are allowed to play Texas Hold ’em, Omaha, and Omaha Hi/Low Split, whereas house-banked games are exclusive rights of Native American casinos.
Puerto Iguazú, Argentina
Located in the northeastern corner of Argentina, near the borders of Brazil and Paraguay, Puerto Iguazú is home to the famous Iguazú Grand Resort, Spa & Casino. The resort is positioned in a beautiful natural setting near the iconic Iguazú Falls – one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Resting in the hotel rooms also guarantees you a stunning view of the nearby Iguazú River and the surrounding lush rainforest. Moreover, the resort also offers a luxurious spa and wellness centre.
As for the casino, it has 34 game tables and 200 slot machines. You can sign up for a credit line right at the entrance and receive a player card that will track your plays. Meanwhile, the Argentinian live music and tango performances add an extra layer of fun and excitement for players.
Paradise Island & Nassau, The Bahamas
The Bahamas is an island country in the West Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida in the United States and northeast of Cuba. Paradise Island is one of its 700 islands, and Nassau is its capital city. Gambling might not be the first thing that comes to mind when people think about this tropical paradise, but it’s one of the many things the Bahamas excels at.
The Atlantis Paradise Island resort used to host the Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure Tournament – the Caribbean’s biggest poker tournament – every year for a decade and a half until it was scrapped in 2020 due to the pandemic. Nassau is known for the beautiful beachfront Baha Mar Casino, which offers a variety of games, including a unique Caribbean poker. As people say, the fun doesn’t end when the sun sets here.
While Las Vegas, Macao, and Atlantic City remain the giants of the gambling world, there are hidden gems scattered across the globe that offer a different and equally captivating casino experience. These lesser-known destinations provide not only the thrill of gambling but also unique cultural, natural, and historical experiences. The next time you want to spice up your travel adventures with a bit of gambling, consider exploring the destinations above.