Vancouver is one of North America’s most underrated cities – and residents in-the-know probably want to keep it so. Whether you’re talking natural beauty, progressive urban planning and politics or just straight-up livability, Vancouver is appealing to folks from all over the world. (As long as you don’t mind quite a bit of rain.)
As for quality casino gaming, the Vancouver area has nice options in line with the rest of the city’s offerings. Why not? Gambling is yet another invigorating entertainment that can help get you out of the rain, at very least. Though the city itself hosts just one gaming house (the Edgewater Casino), another two are located within a short drive from city centre, so we’ll include these in this rundown of casinos in Vancouver.
We’ve visited, read up on and reviews *a lot* of casinos in Canada and the United States, but *never* have we seen such emphasis placed on table games. Sure, the Edgewater Casino features some 600 slot machines and electronic games such as video poker and keno; in addition, all sorts of slots are there for the playing, including penny slots and progressive jackpot slots.
But whoa, check out the *70* table games offering nearly as many seats as the slots! Essentially any table game considered a staple at North American casinos is ready to play. The list includes blackjack (including double-deck and "Free Bet" variations), craps, baccarat (in four variations), Pai Gow, Texas Hold 'em (in two variations), four-card poker and electronic roulette. And if you really want to throw down, you can visit the “High Limit Table Games Room” – which includes free drinks!
The Edgewater Casino also includes a poker room with a handful of tables playing Texas Hold'em and Omaha daily.
On top of everything else, you have to love the location of the Edgewater, which is conveniently set downtown nearly the Rogers Centre and BC Place.
We guess that the “Hard Rock Casino Vancouver” is a bit more marketable than “Hard Rock Casino Coquitlam.” Besides, with a quality gaming hours like this, who’s gonna quibble about a distance of about 27 kilometres from Vancouver’s downtown?
No matter the name, the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver is exactly what you’d expect from a casino built by Las Vegas-based developers and operated by First Nations citizens. This is the largest casino in British Columbia and is 100% Vegas-style gaming.
Over 1,000 slots and other electronic games are installed within the 7,400+ square metres of floor space alongside 70 table games with standards including blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps along with a few variations on these and other popular games; the in-house high-limit room has eight baccarat tables at its centrepiece. The poker room’s eight tables make this space the largest regularly-run poker games in the province and often has pots to match.
And if the player should ever tire of this variety and actually require some, you know, sustenance, the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver boasts an incredible *seven* restaurants for a variety not even approached by other Vancouver-area casinos.
Burnaby is home to the Grand Villa Casino, located about 12 kilometres from Vancouver downtown. The casino is the headliner in the much more grandiosely-named Grand Villa Casino, Hotel & Conference Centre in Burnaby.
The Grand Villa Casino leads the province in terms of slot machine collection: On the playing floor of the Grand Villa Casino, some 1,100 slots games, video poker and other electronic games are in play, toping the Hard Rock and the Edgewater. A nice perk for slots players comes in the form of regular random prize draws rewarding prizes in the thousands – just for being there at the slot machines on the prize giveaway night, several of which are scheduled per month.
Beyond this, about three dozen table games are among the Grand Villa Casino’s offerings. Among the table games regularly open for the playing are baccarat (in a few variations), blackjack, Texas Hold ‘em, roulette, four-card poker, Pai Gow and electronic roulette.
A VIP area caters to rich North Americans and Chinese alike with bilingual service offered – trilingual if you count Chinglish, as evidenced in promotional material which calls this area “VIP Gaming at the Grand Villa Casino Exquisite Gaming Facility in British Columbia.” This VIP Gaming is spread out over no fewer than three rooms: The Cypress Room featuring blackjack and baccarat; the Lions Room with baccarat, blackjack and Pai Gow; and the Maple Room, which is mostly about the bar and lounge plus a few high-limit slot machines.
Laws regarding online gambling in Vancouver naturally fall under the auspices of the provincial government. British Columbia is of course known as introducing North America’s first-ever government-contracted casino website. Of course, this launch of the Play Now website in June 2010 didn’t exactly go without a hitch, as the site became inactive within a week before what might called a soft relaunch. Some glitchiness continued through the site’s first two months of operation, but things eventually got running smoothly enough that Play Now has established provincial government-run online casinos in Manitoba.
Within the industry – and admittedly some of this may be grousing of rival casino owners – it is believed that Play Now slots have a far lower payout percentage than the typical online slots: While most online slots games pay out at 92% to 97%, Play Now slots have been said to pay out at around 80%, a ratio a European pub might have offered before the EU saw to the elimination of these.
Prevailing laws on gambling in Vancouver and British Columbia thus seemingly eliminate the possibility of choice for the player. Regardless, many online casinos other than Play Now accepting players residing in (or with bank accounts based in) Vancouver. Most of these sites have been audited by independent international authorities and offer safe play – at more reasonable payout percentages, too.