Let’s be honest: the gaming industry is competitive. Casinos – both online and offline – are looking for an angle; a USP that will have the punters itching to play. When comps and free drinks are not enough, it’s time to turn up the weird, tune into the wacky, and create the wonderful.
Here are five amazing casino destinations that cleverly put the biz in bizarre. From the flying casino prototype, where the sky is the limit, to the Hackney carriage where you end up tipping both the dealer and the driver. Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin…
1. Flights of Fancy
A bit of a red herring to start. For many years, the concept of a high-flying casino has been at the top of every well-travelled blackjack lover’s wish list. In 2012, a French consortium of design firms – Airjet Designs and Deliquescence – mocked up a futuristic in-flight casino called the Casino Jet Lounge.
The lounge features a bar, a blackjack table, and has a retro 1960s space age vibe. It looks like it could have been created for Austin Powers. According to designer Frederique Houssard the concept ‘brings back the glamour of the ‘50s and ‘60s; the kind you see in the James Bond movies.’
In fact, airborne gambling has had a turbulent history. Ryanair and Virgin have both toyed with in-flight online casinos but the ever-increasing availability of in-flight wifi is making the investment pointless. Will there ever be a flying showdown at the blackjack table? We’ll keep you posted.
Cleared for take-off? the flying casino stuck on the runway? read more about this on CNN: Gambling on airplanes, stalled at takeoff?
2. Going All the Way?
Ah… the ubiquitous London taxi; a Hackney Carriage with a knowledge-filled driver you can count on. In the UK, one canny casino launched a promotional campaign by kitting out a cab with a miniature casino. On board: a blackjack table and dealer, a fully stocked bar, and a television showing all the latest sport.
As well as being able to drop you off at your home, the mobile casino is also one of the smallest with room for just one punter at the blackjack table. The taxi was on the road for only a few months and now only comes out for special occasions. The next time you hail a cab, beware: you might end up going all the way at the blackjack table.
3. All in and All Aboard
So far, we have had planes and cars. Next up: luxury yachts. Casinos on board cruise ships are commonplace because they spend most of their time in international waters. If you live in South Carolina, however, where gambling is still illegal, you need to book a trip on board the Big M Casino. It’s the only way to scratch that blackjack itch.
The Big M Casino is a pair of luxury yachts that take passengers on a short cruise, three miles offshore, into international waters. On board are all the classic tables games, including blackjack, roulette, craps, let it ride, and three card poker. There is also an all-you-can-eat buffet and an endless supply of Dramamine to help with seasickness. Stormy waters and roulette? Check it out the next time you are hanging out on Myrtle Beach.
4. Mainline Action
Next stop: trains. Anyone who remembers the iconic scene in the 1973 blockbuster The Sting, where Paul Newman out cheats the brilliant Robert Shaw at poker, will appreciate the appeal of a casino on the tracks. X Rail Entertainment is a relatively new Las Vegas-based business, offering gamblers a rail-based alternative to flying to their favourite gaming hot spots.
A critical part of their business portfolio includes plans to refit the rail fleet with exclusive casino carriages, enabling travellers to start gambling before they even get to Las Vegas. The renovation will cost in excess of one million dollars per carriage. The route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is earmarked for the roll out. All aboard and makes your bets, please!
Underground casinos come in two flavours: illegal and below street level. Fortunately, better regulation and sensible law is making illegal casinos increasingly redundant. This is why we are looking down – at casinos (literally) under the ground.
One of the best subterranean venues for a game of Blackjack or Video Poker is the Desert Cave Hotel in the South Australian town of Coober Pedy. The former opal mine is now a hotel, complete with underground rooms, an underground bar, and a gaming room with “the only underground poker machines in the world”. For the claustrophobic casino fan, it’s a nightmare; but, for those in search of a bizarre betting experience, the Desert Cave Hotel casino is one to discover.
Two more honourable mentions in the underground category.
First: the Basement Casino, at North Cadbury Court, in Somerset. This Grade 1, 16th century, country house is a popular wedding venue with 25 bedrooms, 1,500 acres, and a secret in its cellar. The underground room has been converted into a small but perfectly formed casino, complete with full-size roulette and blackjack tables, a poker room, and a bar. The venue is also a world heritage site.
Second: if you want to experience a little burlesque with your Blackjack, head to Lola’s Casino, on the lower ground floor at London’s Hippodrome. The venue combines craps, chorus girls, and live dancing all under one roof and under the ground.
Of course, there is one more option. If you can get online, you can enjoy a flutter anywhere. Blackjack, roulette, craps, and slots are just a few clicks away. At the top of Everest, the bottom of the sea, underground, or in low earth orbit, if your wifi is working: all bets are on. Enjoy!