There are casinos, and there are freakin’ casinos. Not the ones that serve crappy breakfast buffets and watered-down gin in plastic cups. No, we’re talking Michelin-starred restaurants, wild nightlife, snazzy gaming floors, and enough action for you to afford your own Hangover moment. Casinos that have upped the ante with insane amenities -- be they 500ft infinity pools or $25,000 suites -- designed to ensure you never step off the property. From China to South Africa to Las Vegas, we rounded up the most over-the-top casinos with the best odds for a seriously swanked-out experience.
Hardcore gamblers will argue that the casino resorts in Macau are more lavish than Las Vegas, and Wynn Macau is flaunt-worthy. The resort satisfies high rollers with two Michelin-starred restaurants, beautiful suites, and a decadent spa where the signature treatment involves a light massage with silk gloves and a cashmere-infused body wrap.
But it’s Wynn’s famed fountain and water-dancing show that have made it the city’s centerpiece. Sure, it’s ripped off from Bellagio Las Vegas, but Steve Wynn’s not complaining, considering two-thirds of his gains come from this property. Macau resorts love to impress, so we’re not surprised Wynn Macau also rocks a free Dragon of Fortune attraction where a massive dragon with an animated head and glowing red eyes emerges from fog and rises 30ft in the air toward a handmade gold cupola. Boom.
Pro tip: Have a drink at Bar Cristal, which is crowned with a 19th-century antique chandelier.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The iconic AAA Five-Diamond Bellagio (with its equally iconic fountain on an eight-acre lake) lures gourmands with highbrow dining that includes two AAA Five-Diamond restaurants (Picasso and Le Cirque) and four James Beard award-winning chefs: Michael Mina, Julian Serrano, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Todd English. You can book a room with impressive views of the Strip or go straight-up pimping in one of its two-bedroom villas (with FIVE bathrooms) equipped with private pool and 24-hour butler. The high-limit lounge, Club Prive designed by Adam Tihany, is where the action is though -- it serves a rare Macallan 1666 vintage Scotch.
Pro tip: Very few know about the Bellagio's art gallery, which features rotating exhibitions from the world’s most renowned artists like Warhol and Picasso.
Atlanta City, New Jersey
Sure, Atlantic City may be crumbling as a gaming destination (we blame Boardwalk Empire ending) but Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa keeps getting better. The first Vegas-style casino on the East Coast, Borgata features restaurants by Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, and Geoffrey Zakarian, as well as a massive spa with outdoor pool that's only a stone's throw from the sprawling beaches of the Jersey Shore.
Borgata has been graced by the likes of P Diddy, Ben Affleck, and J. Lo (whose mom infamously won a $2.4 million jackpot on a $1 slot machine here in 2004). The odds are in Borgata’s favor too, with the debut of a $14 million outdoor concert venue (Borgata Festival Park) opening this summer to house concerts and EDM festivals, and a brand-new nightclub to replace MIXX by New Year's Eve.
Pro tip: Skip Amtrak and charter its private jet. Yes, Borgata has its own jet that flies in guests from one of 18 cities.
At a price of $2.4 billion, The Venetian Macao is the largest casino in the world (and sixth-largest building in the world by floor space): it sprawls 546,000sqft and was built entirely in a stately, faux Renaissance motif so detailed that you might actually think you're in Italy (at least after your third or fourth drink). There are 24 bars and restaurants, 3,000 slot machines, four pools, gondola rides in the San Luca canal system (yes, inside the hotel), and 3,000 rooms. No wonder this is the flagship casino resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip.
Pro tip: The Bellini Lounge doubles as the Playboy Club, so yes, the Playboy Bunnies are there to serve!
James Bond doesn’t skimp on style, and fans may recognize him hanging in this posh casino from hit movies like Never Say Never Again and GoldenEye. This royal institution, opened by Princess Caroline in a 19th-century building, flaunts lavish, Belle Epoque interiors with intricate architecture and centuries-old paintings. It’s the stomping ground for tuxed-up millionaires who own yachts and chill out in private "salons," or super-private salons if they're higher rollers. Service here is beyond five stars considering the pedigree of the clients, which might also explain why most of the staff has been here 20-plus years (huge tips).
Pro tip: The Casino de Monte-Carlo is so fancy, sport jackets are required after 8pm (and don’t think about wearing shorts and flip-flops).
Rustenburg, South Africa
It’s not often you can go on safari during the day, then gamble at night. But that's exactly what you'll do at Sun City Casino Resort, which is just a two-hour drive from Johannesburg. The dream casino resort is basically in the middle of nowhere, so it already feels exclusive when you arrive. And there’s no shortage of crazy-fun activities: the resort offers an 18-hole Gary Player-designed golf course, jet skiing and parasailing on a man-made lake, the largest permanent maze in the Southern Hemisphere, an outdoor water park with lazy river and waterfalls, the world’s fastest zip line, 4x4 quad biking and, of course, game driving in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
Pro tip: There are actually five hotels on the property, but Palace of the Lost City is the most extravagant with its mosaics, frescoes, and fountains.
Opened five years ago to the tune of $8 billion, Marina Bay Sands is the most expensive standalone casino property in the world, and you can bet that money went to good use. The three towers are connected and crowned by a roof deck that’s home to the highest (and largest) infinity pool in the world. From the 57th floor, skyline views are unreal. Scenesters make a beeline to one of three nightclubs (including world-renowned Pangaea) while an indoor ice skating rink serves as a sanctuary from the hot Singapore sun. There’s no shortage of entertainment or food either, with 12 major shows running at a time (like Saturday Night Fever the Musical!) and so many starred restaurants (Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza! Wolfgang Puck’s Cut! Daniel Boulud's db Bistro!) that you lose count.
Pro tip: Get a map: there are three levels of gaming floors with more than 550 table games and 2,500 slots.
Resorts World Sentosa opened the same year as Marina Bay Sands, and it’s Singapore’s first mega casino resort with 1,500 rooms (within six different hotels). It’s so huge, it fits a Universal Studios theme park and the largest oceanarium in the world (S.E.A. Aquarium). There is 16,000sqft of gaming space, almost two dozen restaurants, a massive indoor/outdoor ESPA spa, and some really trippy, larger-than-life theatrical performances at Lake of Dreams.
Pro tip: While it’s no Monte Carlo, the dress code here is even stricter: no shorts, sandals, hats, sunglasses or, uh, masks.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
While Atlantis in the Bahamas may conjure up images of screaming kids and dolphin excursions, high rollers have a different experience. The Bridge Suites are among the most expensive hotel rooms in the world (compete with 22-karat gold chandeliers), Nobu and Jean-Georges' Dune are two of the best restaurants on the island, a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course sits on the beach, a decadent Mandara Spa woos, a live concert hall brings in top acts like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars, and the casino floor that spans the seven-acre lagoon employs DJs.
Pro tip: There’s an outdoor gaming pavilion so you can play blackjack in that cool, Caribbean breeze.
Las Vegas, Nevada
When The Cosmopolitan first opened in 2010, it dared to be sexy, uninhibited, and ballsy -- and nothing’s changed. While it doesn’t have the largest casino floor, its other amenities ensure it lands squarely on this list. All 3,000 rooms have outdoor balconies (virtually nonexistent on the Vegas strip), with half of them flaunting insane views of the Bellagio fountains. The famed Rockwell Group handled most of the design, including columns that project live video, 21 miles of crystal beads at The Chandelier bar, the visually stimulating Marquee Nightclub, and swank residential-style rooms. There are plenty of places to drink (from Rose. Rabbit. Lie. to Vesper Bar), and all your favorite chefs are here (Jose Andres’ China Poblano and Jaleo, Scott Conant’s Scarpetta, and Eric and Bruce Bromberg's Blue Ribbon Sushi).
Pro tip: Bring your pooch! Atypical for most resorts in Vegas, The Cosmopolitan is pet-friendly and has its own “dog park” on the outdoor pool deck.