Located close to Colombo’s top hotels and the back entrance to Colombo Fort railway station, Bally’s is a long established casino with a reputation for respectability and warm hospitality. Smartly uniformed doormen, and plain clothes security detail, are on hand to monitor guests and to ensure only members and genuine players are allowed in. That’s to maintain the standard of discretion that makes Bally’s a favourite place, even for Colombo housewives, to spend time relaxing. The gaming area is spread over a huge space, with private areas for high rollers partitioned from the other players. All casino games are available and the stakes start from as low as Rs100 for roulette, as long as a stipulated minimum is played each round. Roulette is the traditional kind, with only one zero, not like the American game which has two zeros. Players are treated to complimentary drinks of their choice and there are complimentary snacks served to the table while breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are presented in the restaurant section.
Bellagio Casino, a sister of Bally’s, is conveniently located on Duplication Road so it’s easy to pop in there for a quick flutter, even while shopping. It extends a long way, with high rollers concentrating at the far end, while lower stake tables are closer to the entrance. There is always a lively atmosphere at Bellagio as the patrons are a cross section of Colombo residents and foreign tourists, many on special casino junkets. Although it is part of the group owning Bally’s and MGM, it is run independently and caters for middle-level clientele but with the same smartness of service and efficiency as its sister casinos. There are special lotteries on some nights and bands play every night. There is a restaurant serving complimentary meals on a mezzanine and all drinks are free to established players. Games available include Three Card Poker, Baccarat, Black Jack, Roulette or Sic Bio.
Slightly away from the main action of Colombo, but close to the Majestic City shopping mall, MGM has expanded over the years to become a favourite, friendly neighbourhood casino. Its small ground floor space is popular with regulars while a glitzy first floor gaming area attracts foreign and local players used to more privacy. There is also a separate upper floor for local VIPs. The standard casino games are available at minimum stakes and table conduct is strict but fun. Different bands play each evening. There are complimentary drinks for regular punters as well as buffet meals in the separate upstairs restaurant.
Since it opened in 2013 in a purpose built building on Marine Drive, Marina Casino has helped raise the standard of casinos in the city by having each of its four floors dedicated to particular players. Thus one floor is reserved for VVIPs with no limits, while another is reserved for private sessions and a third for dedicated to tour groups on special pre-paid gaming packages. The ground floor is spacious and colourful, with roulette and card tables in the centre and a wall of slot machines to one side. The standard games together with Indian Flush and Texas Hold’Em Poker are available. There are lucky draws of members’ numbers throughout the day. The sense of decorum is noticeable on entering the casino but that hasn’t tamed the sense of fun with occasional whoops of joy from winners. Patrons are of all nationalities with the place being popular with established Colombo regulars and visiting foreigners. There is smooth steward service and premium drinks and snacks are available at the tables, while a ground floor restaurant serves buffets of Asian and International cuisine at appropriate times throughout the day.