Seek your fortune -- or maybe just enough for a buffet dinner -- with a roll of the dice, a spin of the wheel, a hand of cards, or a pull of a lever.
If size matters, then Macau, the former Portuguese colony and now a special administrative region of China, should be your top destination. Here the "Strip" is literally a piece of land reclaimed from the sea called the Cotai Slip and it is being developed to house numerous world-class casinos. The big daddy of them all was completed and opened in August 2007 -- The Venetian (www.venetianmacao.com/en) -- the largest casino in the world with some 600,000 square feet of gambling space. Boasting 1,150 gaming tables, 7,000 slot machines, 3,000 hotel rooms, a spa, mini-golf, gondola rides, 350 shops, a 9,000 square-foot kid's play zone, a conference center and a 15,000-seat entertainment arena, it's a challenge to go there and not get lost among all the noise, lights, and gambling action. If you tire of hanging out in one location, you have a choice of close to 30 other casinos located on the peninsula.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
If you are after old school elegance and a touch of James Bond, then the famed Casino de Monte Carlo (en.montecarloresort.com) in the heart of the tiny principality of Monaco on the French Riviera is the gambling place for you. Men in tuxedos rub shoulders with women in full length dresses and martinis are served extra dry. At the this ornate, Belle Époque-era casino, try your luck in the elegant European Rooms (Salon Europe) for European and English Roulette, 30/40, and Punto Banco or shoot craps and play a hand or two of blackjack in Salle des Amériques (the American Room). You'll find slot machines in the Salle Blanche and Atrium, or European Roulette, Chemin de Fer, Black Jack, Banque à Deux Tableaux and Punto Banco in the Salon Privés if you are a high roller. You must be 18 to enter the casino (open daily from 2pm) and although admission to the Atrium area is free, the entrance fee for other parts of the casino is €10 per person, plus an additional €10 for the private rooms. In the gaming rooms there is a dress code -- no shorts or flip flops allowed, and after 8pm a jacket is required in the private rooms. Oh, and for all you priests and soldiers out there: No military or religious uniforms are allowed.
Lyon, Nice, and Paris, France
Although there over 400 casinos dotted around the country, France, the home of Roulette, keeps things smaller in scale that its U.S. counterparts. Three of the most famous venues are the Palais de la Méditerranée Casino (www.partouche.com) in the French Riviera city of Nice, Casino Barrière d'Enghien-les-Bains (www.lucienbarriere.com) on the outskirts of Paris, and Lyon Vert Casino (www.casino-lyonvert.com) in Lyon. All are luxurious historic properties that now combine traditional gaming like Roulette, Baccarat, and Blackjack with the more popular slot machines. Lyon Vert Casino is France's biggest casino and has numerous Roulette wheels, Blackjack and Stud Poker tables, plus 400 slot machines.
The Art Deco style Casino Barrière d'Enghien-les-Bains is stylish and elegant with a formal dress code. There are 44 gaming tables for French Roulette, English Roulette, Black Jack, Stud Poker, Punto Banco, Baccarat, and Chemin de fer. You'll also find 280 slot machines plus a new Texas Hold'em poker section with tables available with a minimum entry prices of €250, €500, or €1,000. The casino is easily accessible by train from central Paris and is open 10am-4am daily.
Palais de la MéditerranéeCasino is architecturally magnificent featuring décor with Egyptian, Greek and Art Deco French influences. The casino offers 17 gaming table, six American Roulette tables and two French Roulette tables. A minimum age of 18 is required for entry to any French gambling establishment.
In Italy, the number 13 is actually considered lucky (17 is the bad luck number here) and although there are only a select few casinos here (six with one other seasonal one), Venice is the casino capital and the site of the western world's first known gaming house, which was built in 1638. Although the original site no longer operates (the property is preserved), the spirit of Casino di Venezia lives on with three branches of Casino di Venezia (www.casinovenezia.it/welcome.jsp) -- the classic games salon of Ca' Vendramin, Ca' Noghera with American-style games, and Casino del Lido, the historic 1930s summer location situated on the island of Lido just off the coast of Venice proper (which closed in 2000 but may reopen in the near future).
Ca' Vendramin, the Casino's city center branch was opened in the 1950s, in the opulent Ca' Vendramin Calergi palace on the Grand Canal, overlooking Venice's main waterway. An aristocratic renaissance palazzo, it was the home of Doges (the former dukes and rulers of Venice from the 8th to the 18th century) and the last resting-place of famed composer Richard Wagner. It houses classic casino games, including Chemin de Fer, French Roulette, Fair Roulette, Black Jack, Trente et Quarante, Caribbean Poker, 500 electronic games and a whole floor of slot machines. It also hosts gala dinners, concerts in the garden and numerous other events and shows in its historic setting. Ca' Noghera, the first American style casino in Italy opened in 1999 near the airport on the mainland. It offers 1,000 gaming places in an area of 60,000 square feet of entertainment, including Fair Roulette, Black Jack, Caribbean Poker, over 400 slot machines and a theatre arena hosting concerts and shows.
The town of Baden-Baden in southeastern Germany has been known since the Roman era for its historic thermal baths and their therapeutic healing powers, but it also boasts a magnificent casino. The Baden-Baden Casino (www.casino-baden-baden.de) was established 200 years ago (it is celebrating its bicentenary in 2009) and is designed like a French palace, full of ornate architectural elements, gold details, chandeliers, and heavy red velvet drapes. In the 19th century, it was the meeting place for Europe's elite class and nobility and today it operates over 100 slot machines and 24 gaming tables featuring Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack and Poker.
Even if you don't want to play, you can visit the historic property with a half-hour guided tour which runs each morning for €4 per person. The casino is open daily, except government mandated hoildays (Good Friday, All Saint's Day (1 Nov.), Day of Prayer and Repentance (3rd Wednesday in November), Remembrance Day (the last Sunday of the church year), Day of National Mourning (the last Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent), Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There is a dress code but it is not formal.