The Bad: Poorly organized, Annoying parking, Loud!
The Basics: Casino Niagara is fun, even when the odds are cold on the video slots, and is worth visiting for the buffet if nothing else!
On our recent honeymoon, my new wife and I did a bit of gambling (which ought to keep my reviews of casinos flowing pretty well!) and as a result of hitting five casinos over the course of three days, one might have thought we'd be all gambled out. But no, I have married a woman who loves the video slots almost as much as I do! So, instead of my paychecks going to therapy, perhaps we'll use a couple for travel to casinos to keep having fun. On our honeymoon, arguably the best full casino experience we had was over at the Casino Niagara casino on the Canadian side of the Falls. We went there the night after our less than exciting evening at the Fallsview Casino arguably for the buffet and the chance to leave our hotel room.
But despite our low expectations and almost complete lack of plans for the night we went, our experience at Casino Niagara was fun. Given that there is no real room in Niagara Falls for sprawl, most of the bigger establishments are built up as opposed to outward and as a result, Casino Niagara was a couple floors of fun, the only serious drawback being a terrible cover band playing and a lack of "atmosphere." Still, this is one of the few casinos I would eagerly return to.
Casino Niagara: came in with $100.00 (Canadian), left with $50.00 (Canadian) (several hours, a couple drinks and two very full tummys later!).
Casino Niagara is one of the most visible casinos in Niagara Falls and it appears to be located just over the Rainbow Bridge, but given traffic patterns, one has to drive past, then back down to get to it. It is a fairly large slot-machine dominated casino located at 5705 Falls Avenue in Niagara Falls, Ontario in Canada. This is just north of the Rainbow Bridge and along a strip of hotels, casinos and wax museum/horror-theme parks on the Canada side of Niagara Falls. Mapquest directions were more than adequate for finding the casino and drivers ought not to feel odd about how they appear to be driving away from the strip to get to it; for traffic control purposes, the route from the U.S. to the strip in Niagara Falls actually detours about a mile and a half up before turning back toward the strip. As well, we were able to find Casino Niagara only using street signs at night and that worked out just fine.
The Casino Niagara is adjacent has a parking structure and limited grounds which we did not get a great look at whatwith it being night. The parking structure is at least six stories of parking lot and that seems to be adequate for the casino. Parking is cited at $20 (Canadian) but by signing up for a Player's Club card, there is a way to get it free (read on!).
Casino Niagara is large, covering at least three floors and possessing a series of gaming floors with twenty-five hundred video slot machines, as well as several table games. The entire casino floor has the feel of a hotel lobby with bright overhead lights and video slot machines. The main level had the buffet and public stage with one of the worst cover artists we had ever heard (my partner loves Bowie, so when the singer began to butcher "Pressure," she nearly rose from our meal to teach him a lesson on messing with the classics!) as well as thousands of video slot machines. In the center of the room was a pair of escalators to get gamers down to the lower level. The lower level was smaller, darker and had a bar. There was a level below that which was a V.I.P. club of some sort, but we had no interest in even trying to get in there. The purpose of the place is to come and gamble and there is little - visually - to encourage visitors to do anything but that. In fact, this is a rather bland casino in that regard; it is a casino that trades simply on being a casino. There is, truly, no gimmick to this one and that is disappointing.
To give credit to this exceptionally boring casino, the atmosphere is delightful, especially when contrasted with the Seneca Niagara Casino across the river! Being in Canada, the facility is 100% nonsmoking and it is very easy to breathe in the casino. Given that no one is smoking in the casino, there are no issues with separate areas and that makes for a decent experience, at least in that regard.
As for the "atmosphere" of the Casino Niagara, this is a casino trading on the gambling and I cannot honestly recall seeing any servers outside the central bar island or the staff that was maintaining the machines. At the player's club and on the floor, the staff wore tuxedo shirts and slacks and seemed dressed more for professionalism than enticement. The casino was remarkably indistinct instead of having any sense of flash. At the buffet, the workers wore tasteful slacks and shirts. This is not a casino like in Vegas where there is skin or a sense of flash to it.
Gaming Options/Player's Club
I have a very simple gambling philosophy: I sit down at a slot machine with $5.00. I work it up to $10 or down to zero. At Casino Niagara, I made an exception to my philosophy; it was my honeymoon after all! My wife and I traded in our winnings from the prior night - cashiers trade the currency as all of the machines run on Canadian funds - and went to eat at the buffet and do some gambling. The video slots were fairly cold, which made some sense to me as we were there on a Saturday night. Like the partner casino down the road, Fallsview, Casino Niagara has a generally poor sense of organization to it.
As I continue to accumulate gambling experience, I know what I like when it comes to video slot machines: I like the ones that are fun! If I'm winning, I would rather do it on a machine I enjoy and if I lose, I would rather do that on a machine that I am having fun playing regardless. I like machines with interesting graphics and great bonus games. I tend to enjoy the slots that are more girly themed or video game-like, and I was met with real mixed results at the Casino Niagara. My wife and I split the money and I was thrilled to find the first banks of Mermaid's Gold slots that I've encountered since leaving Las Vegas. I suppose my luck on the machines stayed in Vegas! My wife and I tended to bounce from machine to machine a lot using our time at Casino Niagara more to try new (to us) video slots. Still, the night was pretty cold and around us we did not see anyone really winning on any of the machines. Over the course of four hours of play, I hit only one bonus game on one of the twenty machines I played!
Still, there were a ton of video slot machines and traditional slot machines to have fun on. Casino Niagara seems to trade a lot on the progressive slow machines and there was a pretty extensive selection with titles like Wheel Of Fortune, several variants of Monopoly, "The Wizard Of Oz," Slingo, John Wayne, Cleopatra, "Deal Or No Deal," The Game Of Life," Hot Shot Progressive, "Top Gun," Gold Fish, and hundreds more. Like Fallsview, there seemed to be a remarkably small selection of penny slot machines; most of the floor was dominated with two-cent and five-cent machines. While this might seem chintzy of me, there is a huge difference between playing games where one is playing all lines for $.20 - $.25 vs. $.40 - $.80 per spin! Moreover, the gaming floor was ridiculously organized as far as getting around. Slot machines of various denominations were strewn together without any real delineation between the areas. The result was that the casino is difficult to navigate around, forcing players to wander aimlessly to find machines they want to play on. My partner and I went to several machines that were literally across from the penny machines we were playing to find with dismay they were $.05 or $.25 machines!
For those who might be into games of chance and card games instead of the fun and controlled reinforcement of video slot machines, there was a whole area with table games right when one walks into the casino. Rumor is there is a poker room, but upon entering, all we saw were the tables of roulette, craps and blackjack. Downstairs, there was a sports bar area where people were betting on sporting events as well.
There is a player's club at the Casino Niagara, which is the Players Advantage Club. This card is good both at the Casino Niagara and the nearby Fallsview Casino, as they are affiliated with one another. There were no gifts for signing up (not even for newlyweds!). Signing up was as simple as showing a driver's license. Points appear to be accrued based on how much is gambled with one point being earned for every twenty dollars lost at a video slot machine. This might seem unpleasant and annoying, but for losing twenty dollars at a machine, one pays for the parking as one point earns the visitor parking credit.
Casino Niagara is average as far as casinos go. It seems like Fallsview was getting the better entertainment coming. In addition to the lousy cover artist who was singing his heart out while we were trying to eat, the only other entertainment I saw advertised was for the tour of six female singers neither my wife or I had ever heard of. Outside that, the place seemed strongly focused on the gaming and buffet!
Casino Niagara seems to be catering more to the fine dining crowd than the casual snack and fast food lovers. There is a central bar - which closes around 1 A.M. on a Friday night/Saturday morning - right on the gaming floor. Honestly, we stopped looking around for dining options the moment we saw the buffet.
The buffet at Casino Niagara is shockingly good, even near the closing time of eleven P.M. My wife was amazed at the selection of sushi laid out at this buffet and watching her enjoy herself was a treat for me as well. There was a huge selection of Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, and comfort food. I packed three plates up with food like mashed potatoes and gravy, lasagna, freshly cut roast beef, and huge salads with only what I wanted in them, along with an entire plate of desserts like mousse, cake and cookies, among other things. My new wife piled on the seafood and we had a long, comfortable meal despite the fact the buffet was closing. At $17.95 Canadian, each, the buffet was a great deal and we more than got our money's worth. The quality of the food was shockingly good and there were a ton of options that were baked as opposed to fried, making it one of the best buffets I've ever eaten at at a casino.
Casino Niagara is focused far more on the gambling than the shopping. As a result, there are limited shopping opportunities and the casino has more of a gift shop than a real shopping experience.
Casino Niagara would be a lot more fun if it had a gimmick or even a hook. That said, the selection of games was incredible, even if there was no sensible layout to the casino. The buffet is worth stopping in and to get your parking "free," it is worth it to play, even just the twenty bucks. After all, as we say right over the bridge in the U.S. "you never know!"
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Railroad Pass Casino
Turtle Creek Casino
Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs
For other travel reviews, please be sure to visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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