The Top 5 Live Casinos in New Zealand
Online casino play is fun - you can just fire up the laptop dressed in nothing but your pyjamas, and before your breakfast has even had a chance to settle you're up 500 bucks.
But while Internet gaming is fast, easy and fun, sometimes you want a bit more - the glitz, the lights, the atmosphere, and maybe just a really top meal. That's where a live casino can't be beat.
New Zealand's live gambling scene may be relatively small - at least compared to the huge resorts over the water in Oz - but it doesn't mean there aren't some great places to try out live video slots and experience the buzz of roulette and blackjack for real.
So, pack up the computer, put on your smartest gear, and head out to one of New Zealand's best land-based casinos.
All of the casinos in our list require ID to enter, and you'll need to be 20 years old or over to enter.
5 - SKYCITY Casino, Queenstown
Phone: +64 03 441 0400
16-24 Beach Street
The ever-present name in NZ gambling is SKYCITY, who operate several top casinos in the country.
And while the chain has been busy launching new gaming establishments of late - Wharf Casino in Queenstown is the latest - the original Queenstown SKYCITY is still going strong, and it takes the #5 spot in our list.
Situated in the heart of central Queenstown, SKYCITY Casino is fairly light on gaming - just 86 slots and 8 table games - but it more than makes up for it in top tucker at the Wild Thyme Restaurant which serves up great NZ lamb and seafood.
Poker fans are catered for with a comfortable room that spreads plenty of Hold'em games.
4 - Dunedin Casino
Phone: 0800 477 4545
118 High Street
Dunedin, Otago 9016
One of New Zealand's smallest casinos, the Dunedin Casino still manages to pack in five different great games across its 12 tables.
Caribbean Stud Poker, Baccarat, Blackjack, Roulette and Poker - all are offered in one form or another in Dunedin.
Meanwhile, slots fans can enjoy 180 of the latest games from the biggest developers around.
Dunedin Casino may boast 'Monte Carlo-style' atmosphere, but it doesn't prevent it from offering some down-to-earth delights. Who can resist $15 fish 'n chips on a Friday?!
3 - SKYCITY Casino, Hamilton
Phone: +64 7 834 4900
346 Victoria Street
It may not have Auckland's vertigo-inducing tower, but Hamilton's branch of SKYCITY Casino certainly has great views of the Waikato River to compensate.
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 'cosy' is certainly the order of the day in Hamilton, with 'just' the 330 slots and 23 gaming tables.
For gamblers after a bit more privacy, the Macau Room offers some high-rolling blackjack and Midi-Baccarat fun: the perfect chance to try out the games you've been enjoying online.
2 - Christchurch Casino
Phone: 64 3 365 9999
30 Victoria Street
Based in the city's buzzing Victoria Street area, Christchurch's gambling must-see may not quite compete on size with Auckland's big boys, but there's plenty to draw in the weary gambling nut.
Christchurch Casino holds 36 gaming tables - including classic roulette and blackjack - plus 500 slots. There is live sports on giant screens too - perfect for a quick spot of Super 12s - and live bands every weekend.
Styling itself as "the Home of New Zealand Poker" (although our #1 casino pick may have something to say about that), Christchurch Casino boasts a popular poker room that proudly plays host to the Wellington Poker Championship each year.
But with a massive range of cash games spread - and regular poker promos - the Christchurch may actually be some way to justifying that tag.
1 - SKYCITY Casino, Auckland
Phone: +64 9 363 6000
Corner Victoria and Federal Streets
Arguably New Zealand's best gambling joint is yet another branch of the SkyCity chain, this time in Auckland. And if you've done your load over the gaming tables, a trip up the 328-metre Sky Tower should clear your head.
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, the SKYCITY offers over 100 table games and 1,600 pokies and gaming machines (yep - 1,600), plus a dozen great restaurants serving up all kinds of Oriental, fusion and worldwide cuisine, and 8 bars.
There are also numerous bonus offers for regular visitors, with special 'Bonus Play Days' and 'Power Winners' sessions set up to encourage more play, and more rewards points on gamblers' Premier Cards.
It's not just classic casino gaming on offer at SKYCITY Auckland, though. There's also a sizeable poker room on-site with weekly tourneys from a wallet-friendly $15 up to $500, although the poker room doesn't boast 24-hr games, so you late-night cash game junkies will be left wanting.
SKYCITY will host the final leg on this season of PokerStars's Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) this coming November with a Main Event buy-in of NZ$2,500. The leg, which should attract a decent turnout of Australasian talent, also forms part of this season's PokerStars ANZPT.
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