BY ZOE MILLES
Casinos never go out of fashion; it’s not so much the games themselves but the atmosphere, the unabashed luxury and the bright lights. For the hypothetical tourist in North America though, finding a gaming palace that lives up to the hype can be a chore so here are a few of the best, well-reviewed casinos in Canada.
1. Casino Nova Scotia, Halifax.
Nova Scotia, a place famed for its fishing, rolling hills, and jagged headlands (we’ve already mentioned it here on jetsettimes.com) might be the last place on earth travelers would associate with a lively gaming scene. Casino Nova Scotia, situated on the waterfront in Halifax, is one of the more impressive outlets in Canada, not least because half of the structure is built over deep water.
The Casino Nova Scotia is one part hotel and restaurant, and one part mixed entertainment venue, attracting major names like Cheap Trick, 3 Doors Down, and Skid Row. There’s also the usual array of casino games on offer, including 500 slot machines themed around pop culture, blackjack, roulette, and poker.
2. River Rock Casino Resort, Vancouver.
Fans of online gaming could do much worse than dropping in at River Rock near Vancouver International Airport. A hotel and gaming experience, River Rock is the only four-star combined establishment in Western Canada.
It’s a little on the pricey side, with rooms going for around USD $150-$200 a night, but it’s just a 20-minute drive from downtown and 15 minutes away from Steveston, a historic fishing village in the vicinity of Richmond, and a favorite destination of lifestyle magazine insidevancouver.ca.
With more than 1,100 slot machines, a poker room and a number of blackjack and roulette tables, River Rock is a gamer’s paradise. It offers quite a different experience to online casinos, some of the best of which can be found on canadascasinos.ca, a review site for Canada’s top brands. Regular visitors to the digital casino will nevertheless have a bit of an advantage over fair-weather players on the casino floor. For example, most online poker skills – emotional control, adaptability, etc. – transfer readily to the offline world
It might take some work to master the poker “face” – the online world doesn’t really teach players to unpick player “tells” or to mask their own – but River Rock is a worthy addition to the traveler’s wish list.
3. Casino de Montreal, Montreal.
A true giant of the casino industry, the Casino de Montreal has more than 3,000 slot machines spread across three levels and three different structures, two of which – the Quebec and French Pavilions – hosted Expo 67, a World’s Fair-type event, and a key part of Canadian national identity, according to thestar.com. Casino de Montreal also has four restaurants and more than 100 different gaming tables.
It’s a little gratuitous but for sheer spectacle alone, it’s a must-visit for travelers to French Canada. Casino de Montreal is quite an odd building, both inside and out, with Art Deco styling befitting its 1960’s heritage. It also provides the option to play online, though it’s always worth checking out the listings on a site like casinos-online.ca before joining a new casino.
Finally, visitors to Alberta ought to call in at Medicine Hat’s Lodge Hotel, a casino and hotel that includes the novel feature of an indoor water park, while tourists in Cranbrook, a quaint city in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia, would enjoy the combined benefits of Rocky Mountains views and a beautiful building at the St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino.