The Good: Good customer service, Decent entertainment options, Nonsmoking!
The Bad: Poorly organized, Annoying parking, Low selection for reasonable amounts
The Basics: Despite being a nonsmoking casino, Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario is just boring and chaotic.
Say what you will about casinos, but I have little problem with panning a casino even when I - or my partner - win at it. But, frankly, some casinos are just no fun. For those of us who play video slot machines, arguably the time one visits can determine just how fun the casino is. So, for example, I have noticed there is an odd tendency at my local casino, Vernon Downs (reviewed here!) for the slots to be far looser on Senior Citizen Days, like Wednesday mornings and after 10 P.M. when the place is almost completely empty. So, perhaps my anitpathy toward Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is because hours after being married last week, my new wife and I went gambling at Fallsview Casino on a Friday night and well into Saturday morning. And it was only after 3 A.M. on Saturday morning when the odds changed that our gambling luck broke and we went up - and left while we were ahead.
Between our arrival around eleven P.M. and our departure after three A.M., my partner and I found Fallsview to be mediocre at best and boring and painfully bad odds at the worst. Even so, Fallsview had friendly staff and when we did get ahead, we left. For the most part, the casino was comfortable, which prevents it from being terrible.
Fallsview Casino: came in with $50.00 (Canadian), left with $100.00 (Canadian) (several hours later!).
Fallsview is a fairly large slot-machine dominated casino located at 6380 Fallsview Blvd. in Niagara Falls, Ontario (that's Canada, for those unclear on the geography of the location!). This is just 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.
The Fallsview Casino is adjacent to a Hilton hotel and has a parking structure and skyway that connects the two. The parking structure is at least six stories of parking lot and that seems to be adequate for both the hotel and 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!).
Fallsview is large, possessing a gaming floor with three thousand 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 organized around a central bar. 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 Fallsview Casino, 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.
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 Fallsview, I made an exception to my philosophy; it was my wedding night after all! My wife, mother-in-law and I traded in a bit more cash and went to do some gambling (and for my new bride and mother-in-law, legal drinking!). The video slots seemed especially cold and more than that, the gaming floor was disturbingly disorganized.
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 Fallsview Casino. My wife and I split the money and I ended up bouncing with her and my mother-in-law around several machines that I did not enjoy, like a weird "Monopoly" themed game and a few other cold machines, like "Wheel Of Fortune," before my mother-in-law left and my wife and I went to play things we enjoyed together and apart. I ended up going out on "Crystal Enchantment," one of my two favorite games. My partner hit the "Wheel Of Fortune" for $100 on the bonus game and we decided to call it a night, er, morning.
Still, there were a ton of video slot machines and traditional slot machines to have fun on. Fallsview Casino 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. 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 poker room with 7-card stud, Omaha, Omaha high/low and Texas Hold'Em. As well, there were the standard tables of roulette, craps and blackjack.
There is a player's club at the Fallsview, which is the Players Advantage Club. This card is good both at the Fallsview Casino and the nearby Casino Niagara, 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.
Fallsview is average as far as casinos go. Indeed, I have seen better advertisements for the upcoming attractions at virtually every other casino I have ever been to. It was only at the Player's Club sign-up that I learned that Louie Anderson and Melissa Etheridge were upcoming performers at Fallsview Casino. Come to think of it, there was a wall of upcoming performers on the walkway from the parking garage into the casino, but there were pictures of people like Kevin Costner with a guitar and no notations that this was promoting an upcoming performance at Fallsview! Ticket prices seemed reasonable, like $60 for Melissa Etheridge's upcoming show.
Fallsview Casino 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. As well, there are a dozen restaurants, including the Grand Buffet. For those who do not do buffets or fast food, there were bars, sushi bars and a steakhouses. The food looked good everywhere and prices range, from the reasonable to the expensive. Given that we had just come from our wedding reception, we were not so much eating at this casino. However, if Casino Niagara's food was any indication (where we went the next night), the food at Fallsview is probably excellent.
Fallsview 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. There is a strip of overpriced clothing stores in a hallway away from the gaming floor, but we remained unimpressed by it.
Fallsview would be a lot more fun if it had a gimmick or even a hook. As it is, it is a remarkably bland casino and if it weren't for the fact that we ended up winning, it would be easy to take this bland gaming experience and say "avoid it." As it is, there is little wrong with Fallsview Casino, but there is little that is right or exciting. And why go to a casino, if not for excitement and fun?!
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Turning Stone Casino And Resort - Vernon, NY
Hard Rock Casino
For other travel reviews, please check out my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the travel reviews I have written!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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