The Principality of Monaco, a glittering jewel on the Mediterranean, is home to the iconic Monte Carlo Casino (Casino de Monte-Carlo). Perched on high ground, the 1865 grand building is the epitome of La Belle Époque style exuding ornate opulence. At night, when the city sparkles with lights and vibrates with the hum of wealthy, beautiful people, it is easy to be drawn to the casino’s glow like a moth to a flame. Before you lay down your first chip, it is wise to have a plan of action. Below are a few tips born from experience.
And before you ask — yes, I did put money down and came out empty-handed — but it was an excellent adventure.
Casino De Monte-Carlo
From its perch on the hillside, the views of the Casino de Monte-Carlo are spectacular. Stunning homes, fancy cars, and fashionable passersby exude a high net worth. More than just a gaming house, the casino is also home to the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.
Guests can visit the Casino de Monte-Carlo property without entering the gaming rooms and enjoy a “cultural experience.” You can gape at the artfully decorated Atrium and then enjoy a latté at the Café de la Rotonde; it is a great way to absorb the feel of the casino without paying to access the gaming rooms. The glittering gold-encrusted decor is nothing short of exuberant flights of fancy.
1. Casino Entrance
Begin your adventure at the Place du Casino (Casino Square), an expansive plaza at the front entrance of the Casino de Monte-Carlo. The plaza is filled with tourists happily snapping pictures while expensive Ferraris, Bentleys, and Rolls Royces zip between the casino and the Hotel de Paris.
Periodically, the blockade barriers encircling the casino are lowered and a high roller’s automobile is allowed to enter and park in one of the few spots inside the casino plaza. You will know when it happens because paparazzi swarm the car hoping to get a coveted picture of a rich and famous patron.
On my first visit, I was taking in all the glitz and glamor of the Atrium when I was whisked aside (gently shoved) for a special someone who had come to try their luck. It happened so quickly and so efficiently, I didn’t know what was going on until it was over. It is an amazing spot to people watch; you may even encounter some of the stars who want to see and be seen.
The Atrium is free to visitors beginning at 10:00 a.m. It is a beautiful spot to wander around and sport an awestruck expression at the over-the-top opulence. The gift shop is in the Atrium and open between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Accompanied children are allowed in the Atrium space until 2 p.m.
Pro Tip: The drivers around Casino Square are not fond of pedestrians — be swift when crossing the roadway.
2. Gaming Room Access
Accessing the gaming rooms requires a valid national identity card or passport — drivers licenses are not an acceptable form of identification. The entrance fee is under $20 per person. If you visit in the morning, save your ticket; you can use it to re-enter after 2 p.m. and try your luck at the game tables or slot machines.
You can enter the Casino de Monte-Carlo gaming space from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. for viewing the rooms only and you must pay the casino entrance fee. There is an audio-guided tour that will enhance your casino visit. It is part of the early morning “cultural experience.”
Pro Tip: The gaming tables begin opening at 2 p.m. Guests must be 18 years or older to enter the casino.
3. Gaming Rooms
Guests can play traditional games like slots, Blackjack, Craps, English Roulette, and Texas Poker Hold’em. Additionally, you can try your hand at something new like the French Roulette table or the Punto Banco table.
Several different gaming rooms, or salles, separate the types of games and the patrons’ VIP status.
The Salle Medicin is a private space where over-the-top galas, dinners, and concerts are held. The Salle Europe is the grand showcase of the casino spaces with an elegant lounge bar, music, and bustling gaming tables. The Salle des Amériques and the Salle Renaissance are filled with the blinking neon and the tinkling noise of winning slot machines. The Salle Blanche, the ultimate in gaming rooms, is for the casino’s high-roller VIPs. It takes gambling the night away to a brand new level.
There is no need to feel out of place in the opulently decorated casino. They happily take everyone’s money! Visitors are expected to be courteous and well-mannered during the morning visits and while gaming. You do, however, see plenty of awestruck tourists along with seasoned gamblers occupying the casino floor.
5. Dress Code
The dress code at Casino de Monte-Carlo varies from time of day and each particular salle. If you want to gamble, smart casual wear is always a good choice.
You may enter the Atrium in chic-casual attire during the cultural experience hours. We saw plenty of tourists in shorts happily snapping photos at this time of day. The requirements allow for dressy Bermuda shorts, T-shirts, and sports shoes. No jeans with holes, tank tops, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sportswear, beachwear, men’s sandals, flip-flops, or trainers.
When it comes to entering the gaming rooms, strict adherence to the dress is required. If you are not in appropriate attire, you will not be allowed access.
Dress code for afternoon and evening gambling, depending on the gaming room, allows for dark jeans and dark sport shoes. Shorts, T-shirts, short-sleeve shirts, and sweatshirts are not allowed.
Pro Tip: Some rooms require men to wear a jacket.
6. James Bond
When you think of James Bond movies like GoldenEye, you think of Monte Carlo. Some of the filming took place in this glamorous spot. The Casino de Monte-Carlo was featured in Never Say Never Again. For 007 buffs, you will love the inspirational vibe that supposedly moved Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale Bond adventure.
There is little doubt that Monte Carlo’s iconic casino would be the perfect backdrop for any of Bond’s exploits. It is a glittery, show-stopping work of art. You can easily envision Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, or any of the other Bonds taking a seat at the high-roller table and ordering his iconic Vesper Martini “shaken, not stirred.”
7. Hotel Du Paris Monte Carlo
Directly across the street from the casino is the Hotel du Paris. For as little as $16,000 a night, you can stay in the Diamond Suite with a sea view. This is the spot where celebs, royalty, and extravagant high rollers rest their weary heads in Monaco.
Rumor has it there is a tunnel from the hotel to the casino allowing the rich and famous to access the gaming rooms undetected by the paparazzi. While I have not seen this room nor access to the tunnel, I would love to have the opportunity one day.
Visiting Casino De Monte-Carlo
Whether you are zipping around the Mediterranean coastline of the Côte d’Azur or cruising the Mediterranean on a luxury yacht, you would be remiss if you didn’t make a stop in Monaco and venture to the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Like one of the seven wonders of the world, it is a must-see for anyone who loves travel, architecture, glitz, glamor, gaming, or simply experiencing a show-stopping moment.
If you are not a gambler, there are still plenty of things to see and do after you stop at the casino for a quick look. You will find great options in our guide on Monaco.