Gambling Around the World – Niagara Falls
The birthday celebrations of the United States and Canada are only a few days apart, so I thought with the weekend of celebrations upon us, I would take our tour of casino gambling to a stop at a border crossing between the two countries that offer unique takes on the gaming experience. Here’s my take on the options for you to play your favorite casino games in Niagara Falls, Canada vs. Niagara Falls, USA.
Niagara Falls is a beautiful tourist destination, which was at one point known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World. The days of the heart-shaped Jacuzzis in hotel rooms is long gone, however, replaced with tacky carnival games, chain restaurants…and casinos.
Millions of people descend on the Niagara Falls area each year to see the amazing sight that is the waterfall itself, but once you have seen it, there isn’t a heck of a lot left to do….enter the nightlife. On both sides of the border bridge, you can find entertainment in various forms, most of which centers around the three local area casino properties. There are two casinos on the Canadian side for the border, and one on the American side. There are some significant differences between gambling on either side of the border; let’s have a look at a few of them now.
Let’s start with the obvious: we use a different currency in each country. As of July 1, 2017, the American Dollar is worth about $1.30 Canadian.
It means for you Americans out there, your dollar goes about 30% further, even in casino chips.
You can start out with less of your cash at one of the two Canadian casinos. Canadians, on the other hand, have to wrap their heads around how much each of their bets actually is while visiting the Seneca Niagara Casino, as those $25 chips are worth much more of their colorful Canadian cash.
The three different casinos definitely have their own unique look and feel to them.
- Casino Niagara
Located on the Canadian side, this was the first of the three casinos to be built, and it shows in the design. The casino is spread out over 4 floors of gambling, which means a lot of trips up and down escalators to reach the tables you may want to play. In fact, the casino feels almost like playing in a shopping mall the way it is designed.
- Fallsview Casino
This casino was built much more recently and takes its inspiration from many Vegas casinos. The gaming floor looks very similar to that which you would find at places like the Venetian or Mirage, but the footprint is much smaller, so there isn’t nearly the space between each table. If you are a bit claustrophobic, you may not like that aspect of Fallsview even if it is a newer, nicer looking building.
- Seneca Niagara
This is the opposite of the Fallsview model. The casino floor seems vast in comparison to the Canadian casino cousins. This is also helped by the fact that there aren’t any other tourist-type buildings around the casino; the Seneca property is a little further from the edge of the falls, so there is less foot traffic in the vicinity of the casino.
Both Fallsview and Seneca try to mirror the Vegas-style entertainment factor at their properties. Both facilities have showrooms, and they do their best to bring in acts that both suit the demographic of who is visiting the area, as well as which artists may pull some fans into the casino before and after the show.
It isn’t unusual to look at the list of upcoming acts set to perform at Seneca or Niagara and remark “Wow, I didn’t know they were still performing/alive!” Casino Niagara does not have space for a concert of any size, although they do have a Hard Rock Café on the ground floor which on occasion gets some good local live music on their stage.
If you are like me, you like to have a cocktail or two while you are at the tables or sitting at a slot machine. Those of us who have been to Vegas knows that the complimentary drinks are a big part of why we spend so much time at the tables, as well as why we almost always lose when we are there.
The rules around consumption and distribution of alcohol at the casinos on either side of the border are easily the biggest difference between the two. There are pros and cons to all these rules, of course, so let’s have a look at what you can expect.
At the Seneca Niagara Casino, the rule on drinking at the gaming tables and machines is the same as it is in Las Vegas. If you are gambling, you can order a drink and have it brought to you at no cost. That is very pleasing to players like me who want to loosen up a bit before I start throwing my chips around.
The two Canadian casinos offer you drinks at the table as well, but you are charged full bar prices for those drinks. And more like hotel bar prices versus what you might pay at a local dive bar. This is because it is illegal for a licensed establishment in Ontario to give away alcohol. This rule is really terrible, but there are no signs of it changing anytime soon. So, if you are gambling in a Canadian casino, you will have to take your cost of drinks into consideration when calculating your profit margin for the session.
To make matters worse for those gambling in Ontario, the last call at the casinos is 1:45 am. Yes, you read that right; you can’t order a drink at the casino that is open all night (and charging you for drinks at the table) after 1:45 in the morning. Another win for Seneca, as the same does not apply to a casino in New York State, especially one on tribal land.
What does Fallsview have going for it, then, you may be wondering? Well, aside from the exchange rate we discussed earlier, the drinking age in Ontario is 19, 2 full years younger than the USA. That makes the casino (and the city) a great spot for younger gamblers to visit as they can grab themselves drinks without issue as 19-year-olds. This group is easy enough to spot – they are usually well into the sauce and drinking like it is still illegal (which it is for them a mere few hundred yards away).
Well, there are positive and negative aspects to both the Canadian casinos and to Seneca Niagara, so it makes it a tough call. If it were me, I would spend the time at a show or a nice restaurant on the Canadian side, maybe play a few games with some cocktails, but then hop in a cab or walk across the border later in the evening when I want to take it up a notch. Either way, my wish is to find my way into one of the remaining heart-shaped tubs (I can’t tell you where those are secretly hidden) with a pocket full of either currency…I am not picky!