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Monte Carlo, Place Your Bets

Jonathan van Bilsen



February 2, 2014

Monte Carlo, Place Your Bets

I recently had the pleasure of being in Niagara Falls at the Ice Wine festival and decided to pop into the casino, just to see what it was like. I am not a big fan of gambling, as I seem to have no problem in losing money in stores and restaurants, without adding the world of gaming to my list, however, as entertainment value I think it’s an experience not to be missed.

I started with twenty dollars and a sure fire slot machine, which looked like I was ready to explode with coins. The one armed bandit quickly gobbled my twenty and gave me a number of credits. I started with the twenty-five cent spin, but that soon became 50 cents, $1.00 and then $1.25. 

I was down nearly sixteen dollars when suddenly the big gizmo began to ring its bells, flash its lights and howl its sirens. I was stunned, as I was nearly a sleep and tried to figure out what was happening. People were starting to look and I became quite proud of my achievement, whatever it might have been.

Neon lights flashed reading that I had won ten free spins, which paid four times the amount shown. All I had done was push a button, but for the next twenty minutes I watched as the counter exceeded my original twenty dollars, climbed past fifty and finally ended up around $120. Quite proud of myself I cashed out, went to a clothing store and spent it all on their sixty percent off sale.

People travel all over the world for different reasons – to escape from work, to find inner peace, and to have a good time. But there are also some who travel just to play at the casino in the hopes of winning big. There’s something about casinos that heightens a person’s appetite to gamble – it could be the sounds of the slots or the fancy shuffling of the cards that make an individual feel that way. This is mirrored by the author David Daniel when he said, “Poker is a fascinating, wonderful, intricate adventure on the high seas of human nature.”

With tens of thousands of casinos located all over the world, gamblers can always find a place where they can enjoy their favorite games. What makes these casinos more interesting are their themes and impeccable architecture. Even its online counterparts have seen a massive change – from the classic Las Vegas theme to the sci-fi video game theme. Star Trek fans can expect a spectacular visual and audio presentation plus clips from the 2009 movie in the ‘Against All Odds’ slot game. According to Leigh Nissim of International Game Technology, the game developer behind UK’s leading casino website, Castle Jackpot, “We continue to merge the best of traditional video games and slot games in the online space.” As online casino games continue to evolve, land-based casinos strive to retain their uniqueness through their interior design and architecture. Here are two of the world’s most remarkable casinos:

The Monte Carlo Casino is one of the most majestic casinos in the world because of its Renaissance architecture and superb location. No wonder it became the playground of the rich and famous; and the second home of the high-rollers.  Most if the men look like James Bond and those who don’t, feel they do. The Monte Carlo Casino is owned and operated by the Royal family of Monaco. It was built in the mid 1800’s to raise money for the nearly bankrupt Principality after it declared independence from France. In 1993 it became a voting member f the United Nations and is still ruled by the Grimaldi family and has since 1297.

Known as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient” and “Las Vegas of Asia”, the Venetian Macao boasts of its massive gaming venue. From Hong Kong, you can get to the resort by taking the ferry, which only takes about an hour. The Venetian is a 40-story, $2.4 billion anchor for the seven hotels on the Cotai Strip in Macau. The 10,500,000-square-foot Venetian is modelled on its sister casino resort, The Venetian in Las Vegas, and is the sixth-largest building in the world by floor area. The Venetian Macao is the largest casino in the world, and the largest single structure hotel building in Asia.

The main hotel tower was finished in July 2007 and the resort officially opened in August 2007. The resort has 3000 suites, 1,200,000 sq ft of convention space, 1,600,000 sq ft of retail, 550,000 square feet of casino space – with 3400 slot machines and 800 gambling tables and a 15,000 seat Cotai Arena for entertainment and sports events.

I may have only won just over a hundred dollars, but the experience was thrilling. Perhaps I’ll purchase a lottery ticket next… are there no bounds to my adventures?

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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