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From Down Under

by Brian Carden

Carden - From Down Under, September, 2000

Casinos Down Under Part 2

This month we take a peek at two casinos, one of them in my home town & the other about 4 1/2 hours from Sydney.

Star City Casino
Our first casino was quite an eye opener for a lot of Sydneysiders who like myself had never been inside one before, with its swanky interior & array of coloured lights & tables with their different diagrams & coloured chips on a green beize it was to say the least a strange new world.

This was to be our casino till they built the permanent one about 600 yards away from this temporary one. Its name was Sydney Harbour Casino, located down on the docks at Cockle Bay. We thought, "What a great place, water views of our harbour, and a great restaurant?" Though it was inside a big tarpaulin like tent with plastic windows & steel tent pegs hammered into the ground, but heck we didn't care it was our casino. All the games were there like Sic-Bo, Blackjack, the Money Wheel, Baccarat & two of my favourite games Roulette & Two-Up.

There is not a lot I can tell you about the temporary casino as it was only open for a short time & they were pouring all the effort into getting the permanent site up & running as quickly as possible.

And what an opening night it had, as one newspaper mentioned "this is bigger than Ben Hur".

On a beautiful warm night on the 26th November 1997 Star City Hotel & Casino was born, its birth was attended by over 50,000 invited guests including such stars as John Farnham, Anthony Warlow, Miss Diana Ross & Olivia Newton-John, There were a host of others including parlimentary dignitaries.

It opened amongst one of the most spectacular fireworks & laser shows Sydney had ever seen at that time, a show which has since been surpassed by the New Millennium display.

From the moment you arrive at the front entrance and walked through the big glass doors you were met by a spout of warm water of varying degrees of height, as you are mesmerised by this you almost fail to notice the flame that shoots out the centre piece of this beautiful fountain. On the left, as you ride the escalator, more water flows over steps to the fountain below. On these steps are coins & chips from patrons who on their way out have thrown a sacrifice to the gambling gods as a gesture of thanks for either the great win, or for making them leave before they lost it all.

Once you reach the main gaming area you are taken aback by the array of slot machines, Star City has over 1500 gaming machines, over 200 tables as well as a large sports lounge. The parking facilities can accomodate over 2500 cars. The themed areas are beautiful (e.g. Reef, Desert, Tree etc.)including two aquariums totalling 50,000 litres of sea water which has now established a genuine coral ecosystem. Star City as far as I know is the first Australian casino to introduce the new laws banning smoking at the tables, this I feel may have an effect on the number of patrons on the gaming floor.

Star City has all of the same games that the 'temporary' casino had, plus a few more thrown in like; Craps, Caribbean Poker, & Keno. All the games are $5 minnimum except Blackjack which is $10 & Caribbean Stud Poker at $15.00. It will be great when they bring in $2.00 Roulette, but rumors say it will only be on two tables.

The gaming chips at Star City are plain house chips & so far the only Australian casinos to make special chips have been Jupiters, Adelaide, The Reef & Treasury. Star City is still using the roulette chips from Sydney Harbour Casino instead of changing over to chips with the new name.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Star City.

Casino Canberra
Four hours south from Sydney is the nation's capitol Canberra, it is a city made up of circles designed by Sir Walter Burley Griffin. This city is located in the Australian Capitol Territory (A.C.T. for short) which is one of two territories, the other is the Northern Territory which is in the heart of Australia.

The interim casino commenced operation in The National Convention Centre on 14th November 1992 and the new casino Casino Canberra opened its doors on 29th July 1994. Casino Canberra is located on twenty hectares of parkland and gardens called Glebe Park and the complex includes Casino Canberra, Parkroyal Hotel, National Convention Centre & The Royal Theatre.

Casino Canberra is unique in that it houses 39 gaming tables and, as far as I know, no slot machines yet. Good for the serious table player - no slot noise. The facilities include a Poker Lounge, Keno Lounge, two bars & a restaurant. Games played at the casino include Blackjack, Baccarat, Sic-Bo, Money Wheel, Pai Gow & American Roulette with a race track. The Poker Lounge offers Two & Three Card Manilla, Texas Hold 'Em, Omaha, Five & Seven Card Stud plus Draw Poker.

Every year Casino Canberra holds the National Poker Championships this year it was held from 12th - 20th of February. Last year's event attracted 150 participants from around Australia and the world. Sponsored this year by Jim Beam, the expected prize pool was in excess of $200,000.00.

Casino Canberra's interior and furnishings are rich in colour and are said to be reminiscent of European style casinos, yet the atmosphere is sociable, inviting & relaxed. Another feature of the casino is a growing collection of life size political caricatures which include John Howard, Paul Keating & Bob Hawke. Hours of operation are from 12 noon to 6:00am, 7 days a week.

Casino Canberra will never be a Star City, or a Jupiters but it holds its own in Australian casino history.

Next month Crown Casino and the casinos in Tasmania.

Take Care.

Brian Carden, R-4575

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