Europe or Africa? Well if you’re not fussy (at all) about authenticity, you can – almost, kind of – have both at the same time. The complex of Montecasino in the Fourways district of northern Johannesburg is, as the name suggests, dominated by gambling. As that name further suggests, there is an Italian theme running through the whole operation.
The design is inspired by Tuscany, and if you squint you can indeed detect a Sienese hint about the stone walls and crenellation. The focal point of the complex is The Piazza, which management describe as “slightly smaller than a rugby field” (a very South African unit of measure), watched over by a clock tower with a musical fountain offering a regular son et lumière spectacular.
Montecasino has been in operation since 2000, with baccarat, blackjack, craps, poker, roulette and hundreds of slot machines among its gaming options. There’s even a non-smoking casino and the Bambini Creche if mama wants to have a girls’ night out with Lady Luck.
Naturally there’s the huge range of leisure-time distractions which usually accompany casino facilities. That includes over 20 restaurants and Italian cuisine unsurprisingly features heavily, with Indian, Portuguese, Japanese and others besides.
Entertainment options include a cinema, comedy venue, and the Teatro, South Africa’s largest theater, which hosts musicals and other populist productions. Outdoors, the Montecasino Bird Gardens boast a walk-through aviary and bird shows on the “Flights of Fantasy” stage. And while it doesn’t offer the full-scale resort experience of Sun City, there are three hotels including the five-star Palazzo Montecasino.