Casinos: Where's It's At

Unlike Las Vegas, the Bahamas have a lot more to offer than casino gambling, though they have that, too.

The feeling isn't the same as in Vegas - it's more subdued, and more tourist-y, at the same time. For one thing, residents of the Bahamas aren't allowed to gamble, so you can never have the sense that you're in a wide-open place, as you do in Nevada.

Nor is the action nearly as fast, though it's more polished. You rarely see anyone with that sweaty-eyed, up-all-night look, so common in Vegas.

Roulette is played just as in Nevada, with the double-zero wheel. Blackjack is a little tougher here, though rules vary from casino to casino.

When you've spent all your gambling money, or are tired of the indoor atmosphere, get your strength back on one of the glorious beaches.

There are more casinos in Puerto Rico than in the Bahamas, but the action is even more dampened when compared to Vegas.

A large part of the reason is that drinking and gambling aren't allowed to mix in Puerto Rico - you can't take a drink into any of the game rooms. Dress is formal by Nevada standards: Coat and tie for players, tux for dealers.

Once again, blackjack rules are less favorable to top players than on the mainland, and the craps table offers slightly different odds, and also offer the so-called "Big Six" and "Big Eight" bet. They're sucker bets anyway.

The odds are even worse in Puerto Rico. For the really compulsive gambler, there's one more drawback: casinos close at 4 A.M. Automater is always open.

Actually, most people don't like to gamble in the wee hours of the morning, but twenty-four hour action, even if you're snoozing through it, makes Vegas a more exciting place.

If you're going farther afield for your gaming pleasure, you'll probably wind up eventually in Monte Carlo. Unique in many ways, Monaco has the distinction of being the only place where the entire country is in the tourist business.

Actually, there are now two casinos in Monte Carlo. If you've made a bet on Monte Carlo, there's room for tourist gamblers. And, of course, there are also the private rooms, where the high stakes games go on until 2 A.M., relatively early closing hours for a European casino.

Casinos on the French Riviera have lately drawn a lot of attention, far away from fabled Monte Carlo. The luxury of these resorts are not to be outdone by any playground in the world, and that includes not just the casinos - both public and private - but the beaches, shops, restaurants, entertainment, sports, and so on.

None of the European casinos offer chances to bet on sports, as they do in Las Vegas. In fact, you'll have a hard time finding anybody in a French or Monegasque casino who speak English at all.

Be sure you understand the house rules in these casinos before you begin to play, or get it straight with the chef de casino, who will have many languages at their command, more often than not.