There are very few people that wouldn’t want to travel the world and visit the sights and sounds of another nation that is completely alien, where water goes down the sink the other way and finding a spider on your plate is considered a delicacy.
Of course, crossing off the likes of the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, and the Eiffel Tower are a must, but have you ever considered the wonderful world of gambling culture?
A worldwide trip is likely to sample destinations such as China, France, and the US, and you may be surprised by just how differently they deal things casino games from country to country. Like food, you’re dished out an array of different delights; it’s just a matter of pulling yourself away from the tourist traps and finding them.
You’ll find a unique experience in every city, and we know just the hotspots you need to touch down in…
Of course there’s only one place to start: Sin City itself, Las Vegas. Built entirely for the purposes of gambling, the city has 72 casinos with the Strip being the main focal point. Down the Strip you’ll come across some of the largest casinos in the world coupled with huge shopping malls, hundreds of restaurants, and shows from entertainment’s biggest stars.
It all rolls into one here. A day on the tables is capped off with an evening of Elton John. You tip everyone you see, and if you don’t eat at one of the amazing sushi restaurants or at one of the infamous buffets, you haven’t discovered the city properly.
It’s a city of indulgence. The city of indulgence, unlike anywhere else.
Touching down at McCarran, you’ll land in a whole different culture, where the most important thing is to remember your tipping, because it can certainly get you places on the Strip. Known as the $20 sandwich, slip the person at the front desk a $20 bill when checking into your hotel, and ask if there are any complimentary upgrades. You just might find yourself in a penthouse suite overlooking one of the most magnificent sights in the world.
The same applies to croupiers; it’s custom to tip your dealer, although if you’re on a huge losing streak, it’s understood you may not be in an overly generous mood. Tipping around $5 an hour is seen as standard, but do be more generous if you come out rolling in cash by the end of a session.
The bright lights of Vegas couldn’t be any further away from the sophistication and style of London’s Mayfair casinos.
In London, you won’t find Donny & Marie or Shania Twain blasting onto the casino floors while overweight tourists drink Coors from a yard. Instead you’ll find some of the UK’s elite chatting about today’s Financial Times and sipping champagne or a Bowmore 25.
The British capital has some of the finest casinos on the planet with Crockfords and The Ritz steeped in both history and glamour. They offer a very different culture from Vegas and Macau, where black tie is a must and in some cases you may even need to be a member.
The role of the croupier is completely different, being less chatty and a more disciplined dealer. Of course the job of casino croupiers job is to simply deal cards, but in high end casinos they must remain professional, smart, and welcoming beyond all else. Don’t expect a conversation about the Raiders like you would in Vegas, nor should you be expected to tip. While welcome, tipping in Britain only became legal in casinos around a decade ago and even today you aren’t expected to do so. If you’re on a hot streak though, it’d be rude not to.
The same applies to cuisine. At The Ritz, the eight ounce burgers are swapped for Foie Gras and grilled veal, with Michelin starred chefs creating menus that match any restaurant in town.
Opulence continues across the English Channel and down towards the south of France in Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo Casino is perhaps the most iconic casinos in one of the most glamourous destinations in the world.
Where London buses will speed down Park Lane, splashing passers-by in the damp British weather, you’ll find Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Aston Martins lining up outside waiting for the valet to park the car. Once inside, gamblers drink champagne and eat caviar, and just know there’s no finer casino to be in.
The casino is the definition of prestige, along with the food, drink, and staff to boot. Post-8pm jackets are required, while the croupiers look nothing short of James Bond. And they’d know. The Monte Carlo Casino has been featured in Casino Royale, Never Say Never Again, and GoldenEye, so the bar staff are probably well equipped to whip up a cocktail or two. Shaken, not stirred of course.
The culture of Monte Carlo is very much the same as France. Unlike in the US, service charges in the vast amount of seafood restaurants that lie around the harbor and in the casino are added to the bill – although with the huge amount of wealth in the tax haven, people will often tip a little extra.
Where Vegas is a place of indulgence, Monte Carlo looks after the finer things in life, and is most certainly the most stylish place in the world to play your cards.
Building itself a reputation as the Vegas of the East, Macau is a truly unique place combining the mesmerizing neon resorts with touches of old European colonialism.
Vegas icons like the Wynn and the MGM have made the journey east to build grand casinos in the Special Administrative Region of China. In terms of betting culture, it lays very much the same as its brother in Nevada.
However, while tipping is not mandatory – nor is it in Vegas, just frowned upon if you don’t – a croupier will usually keep 10% of your winnings, although if not a tip is customary.
That continues in the many restaurants frequenting the huge resorts too. Cuisine is well and truly diverse in the city with plenty of Chinese food alongside Mediterranean, steak, and French by some of the world’s top chefs.
Entertainment of course comes along with your time in the casino, with major pop artists landing in the city on a weekly basis as well as world title boxing from names such as Manny Pacquiao, Chris Algieri, and Chinese golden boy Zou Shiming, who has found home in the city.
Of course, wherever you find the perfect place to gamble, let’s hope you’re dealt a good hand and a big pot!