Friday, March 9, 2012
Leaving The Ghetto For The Glam Life, Greektown Casino Is Overpriced But Fun!
Greektown Casino - Click here to book a room!
The Good: Good games, Generally decent atmosphere, Nice architecture
The Bad: Smoky corners, Overpriced buffet, Limited quantities of some games, Pain-in-the-butt parking.
The Basics: Fun, but a little smoky and with a murky point system to reward gamblers, Greektown Casino in Detroit offers a lot of gaming fun.
There is something fun about casinos when one goes to one, finds a slot machine they love, sit down and win upon it and get glared at by the person on the identical machine next to them who has been losing for some time on it. Yet, this is exactly what happened to me when I visited the Greektown Casino in Detroit, Michigan at the beginning of my fabulous trip I just went on. For those who do not read my other casino reviews, one of my favorite video slot machines is one that is based upon The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!). After losing my $10.00 gambling fund on the main level of the Greektown Casino, I found the bank of Star Wars themed video slots on the lower level and won it all back on The Empire Strikes Back, garnering me a pretty peeved look by my neighbor who was losing on her machine.
How did I come to be at Greektown Casino? While staying at the Quality Inn & Suites in Warren (reviewed here!), I saw a list of "nearby attractions" which included the casino. Despite having only a day in the Detroit area and having to visit the Free Press in search of an obituary, I decided I would make a stop at the casino to scout it out. Given how quickly I made it through the disappointing "Star Trek: The Exhibit" which is now on display at the Detroit Science Center, I had three good hours at the Greektown Casino just a few miles further down the pike.
Greektown Casino: came in with $10.00, left with $10.00.
Greektown Casino is a large slot-machine dominated casino located at 555 E. Lafayette Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. This is just south of the mess that is currently being made of Interstate 75 in Detroit. Connecting to 375 South, an arterial which goes around Detroit, makes it easy to find Greektown Casino and MapQuest directions were surprisingly good for a change when the above address is plugged into them. I went during the day and had no trouble finding the casino in Southern Detroit; the East Lafayette exit off 375S literally puts the driver into the parking garage for Greektown.
Greektown Casino is a building that looks like a brick and glass skyscraper (though not quite so tall) on the outskirts of Detroit. It has been built up within the last few years, so it has a very modern look to it. Entering from the parking structure, one walks over a nicely carpeted skyway and may look down on local restaurants, taverns, businesses and shops. There are no grounds for the casino, so an intriguing view of the neighborhood is the best the casino offers as far as view.
Greektown Casino has an impressive parking garage that extends upward and works on a much stronger theory than execution. Each level is accessed through a ramp that corkscrews nauseatingly up toward the sky. At each access point to the level, there is a lit box that clearly states the level number and how many spaces are still available on the level (or "FULL" if the lot is full). The theory is that each time the gate opens and closes, the entrance or exit is noted and the number of free spaces is kept track of. Good theory, but I went through two levels that claimed to have ten or fifteen spaces open (and I drive a compact car!) and found no spots. Still, there was adequate parking and I parked on Level Six around eleven a.m. the day I arrived. I spent three hours at the casino, so it was not a bad location.
Greektown Casino is a fairly large large casino in Southern Michigan and it has a lot to offer the Midwestern gambler. The casino is spread out over two levels and it is broken up nicely with access to more classical Detroit buildings inside it. Yes, from the second level, there is a lounge that is an old brick building with a high ceiling and massive skylight that is just bursting with natural light. There is a bar and limited shopping there. The rest of the casino has a hotel lobby feel to it, which is fairly appropriate because the casino has recently expanded to include a hotel. The rugs are neutral beige and the lighting is adequate throughout the day to create a timeless sense of hour that makes it easy for one to get lost in the blinking colorful machines.
There are over twenty-five hundred video slot machines at Greektown, but they are largely organized based upon the space demands, to maximize the number of machines that may be put on the floor. As a result, there are a few long runs of games on the central floor, but near hallways and in corners, they are crowded together to be dank little dead ends that make the player feel trapped (ironically - or appropriately - some of these alcoves are actually darker than the rest of the casino).
Unfortunately, the high ceilings do little to dissipate the cigarette and cigar smoke that is prevalent in the casino. In fact, outside the main gaming floors above and below at the Greektown Casino, Greektown is plagued with smoke in every corner and many of the common areas. There appear to be no nonsmoking areas - if there are, they are not enforced - and as a pretty rabid nonsmoker, this is troubling to me. Smoke is everywhere at Greektown, though I suppose it could have been worse the morning I was there and in the bigger areas, like the upper gaming floor, the ceilings are high enough that it does not stay concentrated so long as one is not sitting next to a smoker.
As for the "atmosphere" of the Greektown Casino, this is a casino trading on the gambling, more than anything else. The servers on the casino floor were women who wore short shorts and sleeveless button-down shirts. The floor was well stocked with workers for security and maintenance, lending to a very safe feeling. Were it not for all of the smoke in the air, this would have been a remarkably fun casino to play at. That said, this is a Midwestern casino experience and the security in the skyway even was fair and on-the-ball.
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 Greektown Casino, I actually started with $10 and the thought "I'm on vacation, why not?!" "Why not" was answered when I worked it up to $15, then lost all fifteen. As mentioned above, I dipped into my other money and made back my initial $10 by finding the "Star Wars" games down below.
As I gain gambling experience, I find it easier to pick video slot machines to play. After all, 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 psyched to find the "Star Wars" bank in the previously undiscovered (by me!) downstairs where there was "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Dark Side" video slots. It was nice to win back my money on those. The downstairs seemed to have more entertainment based games, like "Gone With The Wind" and "The Wizard Of Oz."
Still, there were a ton of video slot machines and traditional slot machines to have fun on. I ended up enjoying myself on a new-to-me, but clearly old Mexican Fiesta game that had wonderful graphics that reminded me of Frida Kahlo's works. I even managed to squeeze onto the lone "House Of The Dead Ex" when it finally opened up. This casino had a pretty decent selection of games, including Leapin' Lemmings, "Top Gun," "Wheel Of Fortune," Monopoly, Frog Wild, King Arthur, Sphinx, Fort Knox, "Deal Or No Deal," Wild Taxi, Cleopatra, Abracadabra, Mystical Mermaid and hundreds of others. The Greektown Casino Casino had an impressive selection, but there were very few of many of the best ones. As a result, there were banks of actual slot machines that were empty during my visit to Greektown Casino, but video slots that had people waiting to use them because there were only two or three of the machine. The result is a weird mix of diversity and emptiness; it is tough to say there are a lot of choices when one turns the corner and finds only one of their coveted machine.
There is a player's club at the Greektown Casino, which is simply the Club Greektown. Signing up is easy. Simply present a driver's license at the player's club center and get a card. Signing up gets the player a spiffy calendar with a few coupons, but not much else. There were no freebies or freeplays from this casino when I signed up. Moreover, despite getting double points for signing up for the card, after three hours of steady play on various machines, my card did not show any points on it.
The Greektown Casino is light on entertainment and I do not recall seeing signs for any form of entertainment.
I arrived at Greektown Casino early in the day and, despite losing some, decided I would go try the buffet. The thing is, when one has had unlimited food at a Las Vegas buffet for under $10, $20 for lunch seems a bit steep and I just couldn't do it this last trip. The food looked good, though and there seemed to be a diverse array of soups, fried foods and desserts when I poked my head in. Perhaps for dinner it is a value, but for lunch, it seemed steep for casino food. There was a bar as well in the casino and the hotel promised more dining options, but I did not venture into the hotel half. After three hours in a place that feels like a hotel lobby, the last place one wants to go is to an actual hotel lobby!
Greektown Casino was devoid of shopping options, save the hotel gift shop. Then again, given that the hotel is in the middle of Detroit, there is plenty of shopping outside it.
Greektown Casino was mildly fun and it did have enough games to get me to go back in the future. In fact, if the buffet is $20 at dinner, I will eagerly try it and update my review when my fiance and I end up there some evening when we're doing things downstate. But the atmosphere leaves much to be desired and despite the free parking, the theory of how it works is better than the practice.
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Mystic Lake Casino
Mount Airy Casino
For other casino reviews, please be sure to visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the ones I have reviewed!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
Greektown Casino - Click here to book a room!