Gambling has come a long way since the smoky betting shops on the high street, the sheepskin coats of the racetrack and the smoky Bond-inspired casino. Now, the industry is pulling out stops to create the ultimate experience to accompany the adrenalin rush of the bet, a roll of the dice or flip of a card.
Here is our take on the top ten gambling experiences that everyone should enjoy at least once in their lifetime.
10. Palio di Siena
Possibly the closest to the lawlessness of the chariot races, the Palio di Siena is one of the greatest sporting events in the world. But it is so much more than that; cultural, tribal, almost visceral. It’s a race where the odds are almost incidental; pride in the contrade, each barrio, is central to a moment in history.
This medieval horse race takes place twice each year in the Tuscan city of Siena and essentially, there are no rules beyond the riders cannot interfere with the reins of any other rider.
As the hooves thunder on the clay course in the heart of this Tuscan city, your odds with the street are momentarily forgotten. The race may only last 90 seconds, but the experience will leave a lasting impression on your mind.
9. The Basement Casino, North Cadbury Court
Imagine gambling in 1920s Chicago. The electric charge of the speakeasy hangs in the air of the casino in the undertow of this Dorset country house. Despite being elegantly legal, there is an air of beautiful seediness about the moment.
Capone could step through the door at any moment but this is England’s green and pleasant land is at its finest.
After beginning life as a 14th-century medieval banqueting hall, North Cadbury returned to its’ roots in catering for the wedding and corporate crowds.
In a brainwave, the underbelly of the building was transformed into a small but tastefully dated casino featuring a blackjack table, roulette wheel and poker room. Thirty-two patrons only give an air of exclusivity to proceedings in one of the most characterful venues you will visit.
8. Monte Carlo
There is little room in gambling for sentiment but for this one occasion, we make an exception for no other casino is so interwoven into the cultural fabric: songs and tales of how the bank was broken with the shirt off a man’s back. All before the martinis were shaken but not stirred.
Monte Carlo is the world’s most iconic casino and wears its’ age beautifully. None of the gaudiness or in your face attitude of Vegas; this is a model of decorum, wealth and proof that money can buy good taste.
Grandeur is not in short supply in familiar surroundings thanks to Casino Royale. Indeed, bar the sizeable collection of Porsche and Ferraris parked out front, there is something classically understated about the casino.
7. The Sunborn Superyacht Hotel and Casino
Europe’s spiritual home for online gambling is Gibraltar and now anchored in the Village Marina, the Sunborn Superyacht Hotel and Casino see the new and future worlds collide in the shadow of the Rock under a Mediterranean sunset.
It’s a chance to experience ‘how the other half live’ aboard a superyacht, the likes of which are seen only in the pages of the newspapers when the latest billionaires toys are bought and sold.
An array of slot machines greet the expectant guest as they enter the floating casino as the prelude to four card, three poker and three roulette tables. All of which cater for the sensible gambler with low stakes beginning at up to £5 and capped at £500.
With a bar and table service, your every need is cared for in the bijou casino while the hotel contains a wide variety of suites, including a penthouse with a private sun-deck.
6. Isle of Capri Casino, Lake Charles
Evoking the spirit of Brett Maverick, the Riverboat Casino is as big a part of America’s heritage as apple pie and picket fences. Lawmakers in Louisiana, however, decided they wanted the steam paddles permanently docked but the sense of history is no less dimmed.
The daddy of them all is the Isle of Capri Casino in Lake Charles. Everything you expect from a top-quality hotel is provided, from the rooms to the valet parking with fabulous vistas across the water.
The casino itself retains the aura of yesteryear, despite being filled with 1,100 slot machines, forming an honour guard for the 30 classic casino games and 13 poker tables. There is something for everyone who has a glint of James Garner in their eye.
5.Paiza Club, The Venetian, Macau
Biggest can mean best and in this instance, The Venetian hosts the world’s biggest casino. Featuring more than 6,000 slot machines and 800 gambling tables, all surrounded by stunning opulence.
But for the discerning gambling traveller, the Paiza Club is specifically for premium guests. Exclusivity is the byword with discretion beginning at the members-only entrance, flowing through the lobby to your own reception. Private lifts to rooms confer status upon patrons with the dining facilities open 24-7.
Capping this off is the casino. Not a run of the mill, stack and rack ‘em slot machine arcade; this is private gaming with your own rooms for that unique experience. The helter-skelter of the public area is lost and a world away from the tranquillity of these sophisticated surroundings.
4. Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas
From righteous rumbles of heavyweight boxing to the A-List shows, everyone who is anyone has played Caesar’s; now it’s your turn.
The Ancient Rome-themed casino ius loud and brash; everything you expect from a Vegas legend. Blackjack, poker, craps and slot machines; these will be the nights of your life with the tantalising prospect of that magic win coming amid the bright lights. Caesar’s is the home of the $1,000,000 slot machines.
If that isn’t enough, catch the adrenalin rush of the race and sportsbook next door as you take in the races or the game?
What you’ve got to ask yourself, is do you feel lucky?
3. Kentucky Derby
Hunter S. Thompson called the Kentucky Derby “decadent and depraved”; what a fabulous advertising slogan for the race.
On the first weekend of May every year is the race itself when Louisville gets the gambling bug like no other racetrack in the world. One and a quarter miles of dirt shifting, earth-shaking equine grace where the temperature rises as the excitement builds.
Adding a bet at the track simply adds to that as the racing is underway. But when it’s all over, feet float on a ticker tape sea of discarded betting slips marking the demise of a dream.
Thompson’s seminal work captured the mood of the city in Derby week and little has changed. This is more than just a race meeting; it’s the throbbing heart of the American Way.
2. The Queen Mary 2
From the luxurious accommodation through the library and into the Empire Casino, no expense has been spared on the largest ocean liner in the world. The only high rollers here are around the gaming tables and not from the seabed, with the smoothness of the journey a testament to the work of the craftsmen in building her.
Nine gaming tables – roulette, blackjack, three-card poker, heads up and Texas hold ‘em – nestle at the heart of the army of 99 slot machines. The maximum stake is up to £500 with slot machines happily performing their tune for 5p to $5.
Not only that, the house wants you to perform at the peak of your abilities. The novice and the distinctly average players need fear no more. During the day, the ship’s croupiers offer daily sessions on how to improve your card skills.
1. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
There are few more stunning views than from the instantly recognisable observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
All points between Marina Bay to the Singapore Straits open up before you while scanning the island itself shows you the whole of Grand Prix track, as well as the Gardens by the Bay and the equally impressive Supertree Grove,
The casino doesn’t disappoint either. Baccarat, Blackjack, Pontoon and Poker are all catered for across more than 350 tables with room for myriad variations of each game, as well as the staple versions of roulette; 2,300 slot machines over three floors mean something for everyone.
For the premium customers, a further 200 games in the private rooms, sited away from the hoi-polloi on the upper floors, offer the chance of a unique gambling experience.This is one casino where going all in for the best experience is an absolute must.
What do you think of our betting bucket list? Leave your comments below!