Small: The ‘Pirate Boat’ in Macau
Casinos have been seaborne for quite a while. People usually enjoy casino games and casual gambling while they are on a holiday, so someone had the bright idea of putting the casino on a ship. And who wouldn’t enjoy a floating casino experience? Nowadays, a lot of cruise ships boast casino saloons. It’s a nice diversion for the passengers, and in countries where gambling is illegal, it can sometimes be the best way to offer an exclusive casino experience in international waters.
One of the smallest seaborne casinos in the word is the Macau Palace. With just eleven tables, it would fit in one of the halls of the infamous Venetian Macao, the largest casino in the world that sprawls in the same city. The Palace seeks to recapture the spirit of the ‘old’ Macau, which has been immortalised in a James Bond movie just like the Casino Royale. And talking about it, we must mention also ‘Skyfall’, another of the Bond’sadventures, where he actually had a pretty scenographic fight in a floating casino in Macau… However, there have been reports that the floating venue was towed away after the resurgence of American-style casinos back in 2007, and is yet to be seen again at its old dock.
Smaller: The Wildfire Casinos in Las Vegas
Las Vegas casinos have always been adhering to the motto ‘the bigger the better’, but there are still exceptions even in the world’s most famous gambling capital. The Wildfire casino chain is notorious for their tiny venues, especially in comparison to neighbours such as the MGM Grand. Most of their casinos have an average dimension of 8,000 square feet, with the Lake Mead Lounge boasting a game area of only 3,500 square feet.
Don’t imagine that those are some shabby huts though. The Wildfire venues are actually part of Station Casinos, a popular brand once owned by the well-known tycoon Frank Fertitta Jr. The Fertitta family still holds important positions in the company, which just recently acquired the Palms Casino Resort for 313 million dollars. The dimensions of the Wildfire venues certainly aren’t due to lack of funds. And let’s face it, around the monolithic and huge venues, the small casinos in Las Vegas are an actual attraction!
Smaller Still: The Saloon 10 in Deadwood
Once upon a time in the west, the early settlers were gambling in smoky dens that looked nothing like the grand palaces we see today. Saloon 10 is a throwback to those olden times. The old-style saloon is allegedly built on the very spot where the American folk hero ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok was shot dead during a poker game. With the huge popularity of 2004 series Deadwood, the place has been a big hit with gamblers worldwide.
The 3,000 square feet venue also serves as an interactive museum, but still offers real money poker and many other games. It gives you a fascinating look into Wild West gambling, with barmaids, saloon music and drunken brawls – though if we have to be truthful, the first proto-slots were invented about 15 years after the Wild Bill shooting, so the casino room is sort-of out of place. Just be careful if you are playing poker there, drawing aces and eights might prove to be a bad omen!
Even Smaller: North Cadbury Court
We already talked about floating casinos, and there were recently even suggestions that they might soar in the skies. However, North Cadbury Court is famed for offering a rather unique (and very exclusive) underground casino. Hippodrome Casino in London or Lola’s Underground Casino might be more famous, but the Somerset venue is unique because it has a single room with a capacity for just 30 people, creating a rather… intimate atmosphere.
North Cadbury Court is actually a 400-year-old country estate turned into a hotel. Some time ago, the owners decided to convert the basement into a fully operational casino, but there is a catch – you can use the facility only if you have rented the entire estate. As you could imagine, this means that the famous underground Somerset casino works rather rarely. You would need a tightly-knit group of VIP friends to truly enjoy the experience!
The Smallest in the World: Santa Ysabel
For several years, the title of smallest casino in the world was held by Santa Ysabel, a tiny venue in North County, San Diego. It was operated by the La Jolla Indian band and could fit in a mini-market – because that’s where it was actually situated! The entire ‘casino’ (dubbed slot arcade by the owners) was put together in a 15×40 feet room, thus covering only 600 square feet. If you are confused, this is the size of a two-bedroom apartment.
The Santa Ysabel casino actually got pretty famous due to its diminutive size and racked up decent profits. This encouraged the La Jolla to expand, and they upgraded the casino in 2007. It still remained the smallest in San Diego, but housed 349 slot machines – imagine fitting those in the old mini-market! The Santa Ysabel managed to stay afloat for several years, but plans for building a tourist resort in the surrounding area never came to fruition and the former smallest casino had to close doors in 2014. Still, San Isabel will remain with the fame of the smallest and best casino in San Diego!
The Smallest of Them All: The Grosvenor Traveling Casino
So, we saw casinos in basements, and casinos on boats – but fitting a casino in the cab, now that’s something new! You won’t find Birmingham in the list of top gambling destinations in Europe, but the city does boast the smallest casino in the world! The famous Grosvenor brand decided that some visitors might enjoy a quick wager on the go and provided an exclusive taxi service – that includes a gaming table, a croupier, and a bar!
You can enjoy a game of blackjack while you are traveling, and if you are a betting fan you would be pleased to know that different sport events can be broadcast live. As you can imagine, the backseat does get a little cramped, but the service has proven immensely popular throughout the years and can be called upon all over the UK. The black cab is certainly not the ideal environment for serious gambling, but the quirky trip does leave a lasting impression.
Drawing the Line – Small Casinos, Big Expectations
All in all, as you most likely understood by now, the common belief that a casino should be megalomaniacally big and shiny building is quite the lie. You can have unexpectedly perfect experience in small casinos that float or ones that look like normal houses… or even in cars! So, brace yourself, and the next time, try something new. And always remember, the most expensive things usually come in small packages! And if you are not really in the mood of travelling the seas in order to bet a bit, you can also take a look at the best online casinos in the UK where you can take a spin, or try yourself on the blackjack table!