Let’s face it, whether you were glued to the screen when Daniel Craig played that last hand in Casino Royale or fascinated by the gaming floors in Oceans 11, Hollywood sure has a way of captivating us with high-rollers. It’s not all movie magic, however, because some casinos in the world really are that cool. Here’s our pick for the best 10 over-the-top gambling palaces that will have you feeling like you’ve just landed on another (very sparkly) planet.
- Casino Estoril – Portugal
It’s not the biggest or even the flashiest, but this is the one that inspired Ian Fleming to write Casino Royale. It’s near the town of Cascais and legend has it that this was where the spies gathered to trade secrets during WWII. And if you wipe out, there’s no charge for enjoying the beautiful white sand beaches.
- The Venetian - Macau
This one is the biggest in the world, and it’s located along the Macau strip off the coast of mainland China. Macau currently generates about five times as much revenue from gaming as Las Vegas, but they rely far more heavily on table games while the Americans get half of their take from machines. In fact, the biggest 3 casinos in the world are in Macau.
- Sun City – South Africa
This is what Artists United Against Apartheid were singing about when they said they “ain’t gonna play Sun City”. The resort is super-cool because of all the other things you can do when you’re not playing at the tables. Try a round of golf, parasailing, jet-skiing or experience the thrill of the world’s fastest zip line if you want a break from counting your chips.
- Foxwood Resort – Connecticut
The biggest casino in the United States is owned and operated by the Manshantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and is really a conglomeration of six separate gaming sites. It basically has everything you’ll find in Las Vegas in one place including a massive hotel, thousands of slot machines, hundreds of table games, high-class entertainment and live sporting events.
- The Casino de Monte-Carlo
This is the casino featured in Never Say Never Again and Golden Eye, a playpen for the ridiculously wealthy where men have to wear a dinner jacket once the sun goes down. Worth seeing just for the lavish interior even if you can’t get a seat at one of the tables in the private salons.
- Borgata Hotel Casino – Atlantic City
Atlantic City has lost a lot of her flash and glamour, but you wouldn’t know it at the Borgata. The hotel has its own private jet to fly the stars in from New York and beyond to play in classy digs on the Jersey Shore. Famous for its nightlife and top-shelf entertainment.
- The Bellagio – Las Vegas
With its iconic fountain and man-made lake, the Bellagio still sets the bar for luxury in Vegas. What makes this casino so cool is the food, served in some of the finest restaurants you’ll find anywhere in the country and prepared by award-winning chefs. It also has an impressive art gallery with revolving exhibitions by some of the 20th century’s greatest masters.
- Ponte 16 – Macau
Another huge casino in Macau, this time decorated with a mix of Chinese and Portuguese influences. It’s home to the Michael Jackson Gallery, housing a large collection of clothing and memorabilia belonging to the King of Pop.
- MGM Grand - Las Vegas
It was once the biggest hotel in the world and still has the most hotel rooms in the country. The MGM Grand is the center for live entertainment in Vegas, with huge star-studded shows. Get a table side massage in the poker room, grab a drink at one of 20 bars, and lounge in the 5 outdoor pools.
- Marina Bay Sands – Singapore
What makes the Marina Sands so cool is its rooftop infinity pool. It sits on top of three towers and looks over Singapore Bay, giving you a unique place to relax after spending time on four floors of table games and slots. You’ll almost need sunglasses to appreciate one of the world’s largest Swarovski crystal chandeliers in this truly glamorous gaming palace.
The United States has by far the largest number of casinos in the world, but you’ll find thousands of others in Canada, Mexico, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Check out the growing gaming industry in the Baltics or go even further afield to find the resort casinos of Asia and the Middle-East. Good luck in your travels!