Joined: Jan 23, 2015
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May 10th, 2015 at 2:30:38 AM permalink
I was in Queenstown last week and checked out the local action. I was not trying to gather exhaustive data so can only report what I happened to observe.

Queenstown's two casinos are located about 4 blocks from each other, on the same street. Both are within walking distance of each other and many hotels/restaurants as part of the harbor / dockside central district.

I attended on Sunday May 3, around 7 pm local. The mayweather pacquiao fight had aired a bit earlier that afternoon local time; crowds had mostly dispersed by the time we showed up. No way of knowing if the number of tables/people was a residual, or just a typical Sunday evening.

Both had a handful of slots, some table games, and an off track betting system called Tab. Neither one had a craps table in existence. I don't play slots and did not look closer at them; rely on Wiz's report. My observation was that not many people were on the slots.

The Skycity "Wharf" Casino is on the second floor of a strip center. The tables pit was I think 8 tables total. They had two tables of $5 min "Blackjack Plus" (see Wiz's description) and no tables of normal BJ running. They had roulette, double zero, $1 minimum. I think Baccarat table also. I did not sit down to play, as we chose to walk to the other casino.

The Skycity main casino (did not notice a proper name for it) is in a pedestrian mall a bit closer to town center. Third story of the building. Similar size. Also around 8 tables. Standard BJ was offered at $10 and $15. Roulette single zero for $2.50 min. Baccarat was running but I didn't notice the min. I played the $10 BJ for about 45 mins. BJ rules were reported by Wiz, and my experience matched his report although I did not ask for a full set of rules.

Waitstaff took a drink order once, but I paid full price for a beer. Another guy at the table seemed to get his beer for free but he was betting more heavily and was talking to the pit boss so it may have been a "comp" or players club or other staff discretion.

Overall impression:
Both casinos were pretty small , and were best described by my wife and I as "sad". No attempt to create a "fun" atmosphere. Not many people were drinking. No friendly banter among the players at my BJ table. Not even the typical "good luck on that Ace", nor celebration of dealer busting, etc. Couple of tables seemed to have a jovial crowd but I think they were all friends joking around. Everyone was friendly when you talk to them, not stiff/rude/etc, but also not very outgoing. We are casual/fun gamblers and overall were NOT inspired to stick around this place, and if I ever make it back to Queenstown I probably would not re-visit. That's just our personal preference though; nothing truly negative to report, just a lack of excitement for us.

Couple other trip notes:
At a few other bars in other cities of NZ, we saw "gaming" which was slots, and "TAB" which is racing and might include sports betting also? I did not investigate beyond a casual glance, but it does seem gambling is available in various bars for people who want it.

Experience in NZ overall was amaaaaaaazing. Wilderness, landscapes etc are simply breath taking. People very down to earth. Towns were mostly pretty quaint, although Queenstown itself was bustling with tourists and had a very neat vibe, similar to Austin, Madison, Boulder.

We attended a Rugby League game in Sydney Aus. Super fun. They had a "TAB" station *inside the stadium* to allow spectators to gamble on racing, other sports games, and indeed the very game they were watching. I did not investigate the details of how it works. Just found it a stark contrast to America where sports betting is more restricted / frowned upon by the establishment.

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