There are certain stock Bond movie locations. A sun-kissed beach, a bustling street in an ‘exotic’ setting, a covert lair (preferably underground), a five-star hotel, a luxurious casino – without at least three of the aforementioned, a 007 outing is easily confused with a Jason Bourne adventure or Jack Ryan escapade.
If the casino is of special significance, it’s perhaps because it was at a gaming table that Sean Connery first uttered the words, “The name’s Bond… James Bond.” And, let’s face it, there’s no better place for a first-act faceoff between 007 and the enemy of the piece than a glitzy gaming house.
But what if you fancy a spot of secret agent betting action? The good news is that, though the early films used sets rather than real locations, many of the casino scenes in the Bond series were staged in situ. And while some of these – most notably the floating casino from Skyfall – have now shut up shop, the following four are all very much still in business. So gather up your tuxedo, put on your lucky underpants and get set to tread in the footsteps of the nation’s favourite spy.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
The Bond: Worst-ever 007 George Lazenby.
The Casino (fiction): Portugal’s prestigious Casino Estoril.
The Casino (fact): Why, it’s the exact same place!
The Reality: For many the best-ever Bond film featuring, for even more, the man least qualified for the leading role, OHMSS kicks off at the Casino Estoril, arguably Europe’s largest gaming establishment – the people down the road at the Parque Dos Nacoes believe otherwise. Popular with exiled royals and double agents during the war years, the Estoril’s not as glamourous as it used to be. Still, with 34 gaming tables and 730 slot machines, there’s plenty of betting action to be enjoyed, even if a tuxedo is now optional rather than regulation.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
The Bond: Best-ever James Bond Sean Connery.
The Casino (fiction): Fashionable Las Vegas hangout The Whyte House.
The Casino (fact): The hugely-popular Circus Circus, a stalwart of the Vegas Strip.
The Reality: In truth, Willard Whyte’s Vegas gaming house is a composite of three Nevada casinos. Circus Circus is where the bulk of the action was filmed, the highlights of which include Bond’s encounter with the comely Plenty O’Toole (see clip). Now a family-friendly resort casino, it’s hard to think of somewhere less suitable for Bond. You can just see him wrinkling his nose at the T-shirt sporting hordes manning the 1400 slot machines and 45 gaming tables. Fortunately, there are eight bars at which to drown his sorrows.
The Bond: Why it’s none other than 00’7, Pierce Brosnan.
The Casino (fiction): The world famous Casino De Monte Carlo.
The Casino (fact): The world famous Casino De Monte Carlo.
The Reality: While most of the great European gaming establishments now look as if they’re suffering from acne, the Casino De Monte Carlo remains more palace than place, more stately home than slots arcade. All those looking to break the bank of Monte Carlo, be warned – as the façade remains impressive, so the dress standards are still pretty formidable. If you think the slot machines seem out of place in so refined a setting, just imagine how you’d look if you showed up in trainers and jeans?!
The Bond: Daniel Craig (aka blonde on Bond).
The Casino (fact): Montenegro’s Casino Royal (well, duh!)
The Casino (fiction): Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas.
The Reality: In an earlier life, Paradise Island was owned by Axel Wenner-Gren, a Swedish entrepreneur who bares a superficial resemblance to a Bond villain but who, as a vacuum machine magnate, was in fact more James Dyson than Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Likewise Atlantis is less the stomping ground of Le Chiffre (essayed in the film by Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen) than an ideal place for a family break. In fact, if it’s an ‘authentic’ Casino Royale experience you’re looking for, you’re better off visiting the Hotel Splendid, a gaming house in Montenegro styled after the poker palace in Sam Mendes’s film.
If you rather prefer staying in confort of your house or office, you can check out reviews of these online casinos and play like real 007 agent: