The James Bond franchise has the Casino Royale in Montenegro. Ocean’s Thirteen has The Bank. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi has the Canto Casino. Casinos on the big screen all seem to have achieved impossible levels of glitz and glamor. But there are a few real-world places whose decadence and grandeur threaten to give the Casino Royale a run for its money. We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the world’s most luxurious casinos! Think of it as something to look forward to for after the pandemic is over and we’re free to travel the world. 

Sun City Resort – South Africa

South Africa’s North West Province is home to one of the most magnificent resorts in the country. Just outside Pilanesburg National Park,  the internationally-acclaimed Sun City Resort is a manmade marvel in the midst of a sea of natural beauty.

The resort hosts multiple casinos within its four hotels. While the main casino is located in the 4-star Sun City Hotel, the most exclusive casino is the Salon Privé in the 5-star Palace of the Lost City Hotel. Baccarat games in the Salon Privé can go as high as 10,000 Rand (654 USD), while Blackjack games can reach up to 5,000R (327 USD). In addition to the 33 table games offered at the resort, there are nearly 900 slot machines, each one inviting guests to come and try their luck.

The Sun City Resort, besides its four hotels and vacation club, has plenty of boutiques and shops, a nightclub, two 18-hole golf courses, and a waterpark on its grounds. What sets Sun City apart from the rest of this list more than anything else is that it’s adjacent to Pilanesberg National Park, and a 90-minute drive from Madikwe Game Reserve. Both parks tout themselves as being malaria-free, and are excellent locations to spot Africa’s Big Five game animals; lion, leopard, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, and elephant. The resort offers exclusive safari tours in the parks.

The Bellagio - Las Vegas

It’s only fitting that the most ornate casino in the gambling capital of the world should get a spot on this list. MGM’s Bellagio Hotel and Casino has long been a symbol of opulence on the Las Vegas Strip.

Before even entering the casino, one has to stop and marvel at a sight they’ve seen in movies and on postcards. The Fountains of Bellagio are known the world over, by gamblers and non-gamblers alike. Seven days a week, the fountains shoot water as high as 460 feet in the air in a complex, choreographed dance. And we haven’t even gone inside yet.

The Bellagio’s casino features a host of table games and slot machines. In addition to the classic staples like Baccarat, poker, blackjack, etc., guests at the Bellagio can play Pai Gow, a Chinese game played with dice and dominoes. A variant of Pai Gow called Pai Gow poker is also available, played with a traditional 52-card deck plus one Joker.

Club Privé, the Bellagio’s High-Limit Lounge, provides a 24-hour secluded experience for guests who don’t want to be out in the open on the main casino floor. The Club’s speakeasy serves “The Lucky 8;” eight spirits with limited availability, including Chinaco 30th Anniversary “Emperador” tequila and Woodford Reserve VIP bourbon, bottled specifically for the Bellagio.

If the fountains and casino aren’t enough, Cirque de Soleil performs nightly at the Bellagio. Their acrobats and synchronized swimmers put on an exquisite show simply called O, performing in an opera-house style theater. The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden provide a respite from the stimulating atmosphere of the Strip. Also found within the Bellagio is one of Las Vegas’s premier art exhibition spaces, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, featuring exhibitions from around the globe.

If you’re going to Las Vegas anytime soon, make sure you’re aware of the new security measures around the city.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Did anyone say this list was limited to land? The casinos aboard Norwegian Cruise Line ships are among the best in the world. And for good reason; it’s the only casino on this list where you can gamble to your heart’s (or bank account’s) content and walk out in a different city than where you walked in.

Each cruise ship is really just a condensed, mobile resort. With a spa, swimming pools, fine dining, lounges, and bars onboard, the Norwegian Cruise Line traveler will hardly lack anything that they could find at any other casino.

Just like every other casino, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a wide variety of games. Table game minimums are anywhere from $5 to $5,000. Exciting tournaments are held daily for poker and blackjack.

Let’s not forget the elephant in the room. Cruise ships were central to the spread of Covid-19, where they became mobile hotbeds of disease. Norwegian Cruise Line voyages are set to resume in January 2021, but maybe don’t all buy your tickets at once.

Just be careful which ship you book. While Norwegian’s Pride of America is the only cruise ship in the world that’s flagged to the United States, it only sails around Hawaii, where gambling is illegal. For that reason, there’s no casino onboard.

Casino de Monte Carlo - Monaco

Owned by Monaco’s Société des Bains de Mer, the Casino de Monte Carlo is known throughout the world as the very definition of grandeur. From the chandeliers overhead, made from Bohemian crystal, to the wooden gaming tables that are hand-crafted by artisans employed directly by the Société, the Monte Carlo is unmatched in elegance.

The Monte Carlo notably offers French Roulette, with three croupiers and a Master of Ceremonies at each and every table. Each spin of the wheel is its own theatrical event and it’s an absolute must-see.

The casino is home to one of the most exclusive gaming rooms in the world, the Salle Blanche. Access is granted only to Gold, Platinum, and Privé members of the My Monte Carlo rewards program. But it’s worth it; the indoor playing space opens out onto a beautiful terrace overlooking the Mediterranean.

Tournaments can be found in the two lounges, the Salles Touzet. In these rooms, made in the Belle Epoque style and with stained glass adorning the windows, prize-pools have been known to hit seven digits in Euros.

If the gambling itself isn’t enough, some of the most lavish events in the world’s most lavish country take place in the Monte Carlo’s Salle Médecin. Concerts, galas, boxing matches… anything and everything can happen in the Salle Médecin.

Marina Bay Sands - Singapore

Sometimes, the building itself is iconic in its own right. A staple of Singapore’s skyline, the Marina Bay Sands resort complex rises above Marina Bay on the city’s southern tip. The complex consists of three towers connected by the famous SkyPark, the massive platform that doubles as a shared roof for all three towers. In the shadow of the middle tower lies the world’s largest atrium casino, just one of the many distinctions held by Marina Bay Sands.

The main casino contains four levels, in addition to more exclusive salons. You have to play to win, and there are plenty of opportunities to play. The casino boasts 2,300 slot machines alone, alongside 20 different types of table games. In short, there’s a whole lot of gambling to be done within Marina Bay Sands.

Interestingly, the casino is targeted at international visitors rather than locals. In an effort to protect citizens from the “potential harms of casino gambling,” Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority requires Singaporeans to pay a 150 Singapore Dollar (112 USD) levy before entering the casino.

Once your time at the casino is done, there is plenty to do without even leaving the complex’s grounds. The SkyPark terrace is an unparalleled experience. At 57 stories above the ground, SkyPark contains amazing views of the Singapore skyline. Accessible solely by guests of the Marina Bay Sands’s hotel, SkyPark’s infinity pool has a 479 foot vanishing edge, making it both the highest and longest infinity pool in the world. SkyPark also features a garden and multiple nightclubs.

Open to the public, and not just hotel guests, The Shoppes is the Marina Bay Sands’ shopping mall. Browse through over 300 stores and boutiques while walking next to an indoor canal, complete with sampan rides. For foodies, Marina Bay Sands contains no less than 10 celebrity chef restaurants. And to top it all off, the world’s largest Louis Vuitton boutique is situated right on the water below.

CELEB readers residing in Hong Kong may get to visit Marina Bay Sands sooner than everyone else.