The fakest of them all: Casino de Monte-Carlo (from Monaco)

There’s so many copy-paste articles on the internet hailing this as the best casino in the Europe and one of the best in the world that I feel obliged to balance the scales drastically with some truth. No. This is an old 19th century building, the size of a two story supermarket, nothing but a stone in a river compared to the giant casinos of Macau, US, Australia or Singapore. The amount of misinformation available on the internet is simply amazing. This casino is as overrated as Panama City (from Panama), compared to a normal city which isn’t filth ridden, polluted and painstakingly discrepant between poverty and grandiose kitsch. It’s as overrated as alcohol for keeping you warm in the winter or wearing thick clothes in order to not catch the flu.

It’s as overrated as the spleen.

The management invested in three extremely high-end black vehicles that they park just in front, every day, in order to create the appearance of rich people frequenting the place. There are indeed rich people that go into this casino from time to time, but the same can be said of any supermarket. By no means do they come here often. Most of the time this destination is a onetime trip, a checkmark on the list.

To second thing I dislike about this casino is that in order to get inside, you need to stand in line to have your passport checked. Why? I can’t think of any reason. Also… I’m not talking about a line of gamblers, but rather a line of tourists that just want to have a look inside and do some awkward “people watching”.

The third thing I dislike (and these will get progressively worse) is that it has a randomly enforced dress code that depends on the whims of the bodyguards and the time of day. Filtering clients on the way they are clothed is only OK if EVERYBODY follows the same rules and these are EXTREMELY EXPLICIT and CONSTANT THROUGHT THE DAY. At the moment this doesn’t happen and I wonder what they tell you if you’re inside the casino, poorly dressed, when the clock hits 20:00: “Hi… sorry… umm… please go home and change your clothes; we have a stricter dress policy after eight.  At least add a jacket, it will comply with our two hundred years old rules.”

Now… for the actual gambling related opportunities:

For an admission cost of 10 EUR you can access two small rooms with slots (with fancy names: “Salle Renaissance” and “Salle Europe”) and another – “Salle des Amériques” – which has two active table games where the casino edge is fabulous: double-zero Roulette and continuous-shuffle Blackjack (any team of card counters won’t beat that). There are two more table games that are never staffed: Craps and Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker. Don’t confuse the latter with Texas Hold’em, where you play against other people; they don’t offer this popular card game and even if they did, they’d probably rake 4% uncapped (of the ENTIRE pot), as they do in French casinos.

For a total admission cost of 20 EUR you can access their “private” rooms: Salle Blanche, Salle Touzet Nord & Sud and Salle Médecin. These are actual rooms; don’t expect some huge gambling halls with dozens of tables. Among the five games offered here is single-zero Roulette, which has much better odds than the variant you get when paying only 10 EUR. Basically, European Roulette (single-zero) is better than American Roulette (double-zero). You should never agree to play American Roulette; make it one of your life’s rules! Oh… and there’s a catch about these “private” rooms. You might pay the extra 10 EUR and regret it afterwards because there’s a high chance that these room will only have staff and no tables running, even at peak hours. No, seriously! Expect their “private” rooms to be empty of gamblers. ASK before paying any money how many tables are actually running in that exact moment.

After paying these admission costs, you don’t get any chips in exchange. This is problematic because it will never be OK to pay at the entrance of a casino, simply because it means that you pay them to take your money. The argument that if they wouldn’t do this, the place would get trampled by tourists, beggars and hookers doesn’t stand. The same could be achieved by having a sign on the entrance that says “Only people who gamble may enter” and two mean-looking bodyguards. They already have the latter. You don’t buy a ticket when going into a supermarket, do you?

Because in kindergarten you keep wanting that more exclusive thingy, there are also “super-private rooms” – this is how they actually call them. They’re code for “contact us and tell us what you want to play and at what stakes; negotiate”. This is possible in every casino though, therefore it’s not worth expanding the subject. It removes the social dimension from gambling therefore it also makes it worse. By extrapolating from the popularity of their “private” rooms, I guess the “super-private” ones are extremely dusty. They’re as popular as genital herpes.

The staff is often bored, rude and unhelpful. Don’t expect them to explain any rule of any game. They’re mostly snobs that only treat you well if you’re famous or splashing a lot of money. If you go at a table with “only” 2000 EUR, expect to be treated poorly, although this is probably two times their salary. Another proof of how small their salaries must be is the very demanding way in which they go about getting tipped. Tipping is just a method in which the employer transfers the guilt of low wages to the clients. It’s not our fault that’s he’s a greedy bastard or the business is not competitive and therefore he won’t offer higher salaries. Maybe tipping makes sense in a restaurant because they’re a low margin business but casinos win a lot of money. Make it another of your life rules to never tip in a casino.

In its most recent history, the casino was made famous by some James Bond movies (not because of the quality of their services). The bars inside are heavily tourist aimed, with drinks referencing the movies and charged at ridiculous prices. A small martini called “James Bond” costs 16 EUR. You need a high disregard for the value of money in order to pay so much for a drink. Even if I was Bill-Gates-rich, I still wouldn’t pay so much because I don’t like the idea of being fouled. The legend has it that if you’re playing at the tables, you can request drinks from the server FOR FREE. But there is no server. If there was one he would only have two or three tables to attend to; he would have been seen at least once in the last century. I’m telling you, this guy’s a myth. All the people that claim to have seen him are actually employees of the casino.

If you’re going inside with a currency different than EURO, you better ask for a custom rate or even better – leave and exchange your money at the bank. That’s because their exchange rates are absurd.

- Hello, I would like to exchange 1000 dollars to euros, in chips.
- Oui. Thank you. (Takes the money and waits for you to leave.)
- …
Seeing as you’re still there after 20 seconds, the cashier slides a 10 EUR chip slowly towards you.
- …
After a second awkward pause, the cashier pushes another 5 EUR chip to you, while looking intently in your eyes, without breaking the gaze.
- I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I want to exchange 1000 dollars to euros, in chips.
The cashier slams the window and runs away. Bodyguards remove you from the building for having improper attire.

True story.

This casino has no atmosphere or even background music. Everyone will look bored, from the staff to the gamblers. The reason for that is that they are actually, 100%, bored. There’s no role playing going there.

They have a short schedule: from 14:00 to 0:45 (10 hours and 45 minutes). Even so, expect them to have only two tables of blackjack and two of roulette running even on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.  Casino de Monte-Carlo should stop calling itself a “Casino”. There are bars that get more action at their slots. This “Casino” is only for show. It’s a tourist trap. If you go there… save your money, have a walk around the foyer and you are pretty much done! It’s just a building with nice ceilings.

Conclusion of the review: Casino de Monte-Carlo is the fakest of them all, it pretends to be a casino but it’s just a tourist attraction.

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