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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 20, 2009
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May 20, 2009   
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Roulette, poker, blackjack, one-armed bandits, Las Vegas and Monte Carlo, fortunes won and fortunes lost-welcome to the world of casinos.

People have gambled almost since the dawn of humanity. Games of chance were a favorite pastime for ancient Greeks and Romans, and the first written accounts of gambling come from China 2,300 years before Christ.

These days, gambling is most commonly associated with big casino cities such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Monte Carlo. The first commercial casino in Poland opened in 1988 and the gambling sector has been continuously developing over the past two decades, generating considerable revenue for both investors and the government. Gaming taxes paid by operators of video arcades, casinos and bookmakers provide the state budget with over zl.1.5 billion in revenue every year (zl.1.7 billion in 2006 and the amount keeps growing as the sector expands).

Contrary to what one might believe, casinos are not the most profitable segment of the gaming sector. The highest revenue is generated by slot machines, or one-armed bandits, placed in video arcades and, often illicitly, in pubs and bars. At the beginning of April a bill was submitted to the lower house of Poland's parliament seeking to slap a tax on slot machines-10 percent of every inserted coin. In this way the government would earn another zl.1.3 billion.

Polish gamblers are increasingly attracted by online casinos. To begin with, you do not even need to leave your house to play. Second, you can pay with a bank transfer straight from your bank account. Finally, online gamblers gain access to casinos, bookmakers and other forms of gambling both in Poland and abroad. Despite its immense popularity, this form of gaming is still illegal in Poland. The finance ministry has only started work to draft a bill to regulate online gambling.

The largest casinos in Warsaw are owned by three chains: Casinos Poland, Olympic Casino, and Orbis. All are located in large hotels. Under Polish law, all casino patrons must be over 18 years of age and have a valid ID on them. This is a strict rule, barring entry to all minors even if they have no intention to gamble.

The black-tie dress code at casinos is a Hollywood myth, as most casinos only require their guests to wear classically elegant clothes. Tracksuits, the erstwhile unofficial uniform of hoodlums in this country, are banned. First-timers can frequently make an appointment with a staff member to introduce them to the casino, showing them around the game hall and explaining how to play, buy tokens and so on. Basic information can be also obtained from the reception desk and croupiers.

Casinos are more than gambling, as you can pop by to just have a drink at the bar, "breathe in the atmosphere," join a theme party, or see a show. Casinos also host team-building events, banquets, press conferences, hen and stag parties, and weddings. You can also indulge in some no-risk fun. Casinos Poland, for example, provides lessons in gambling with professional rules and professional croupiers. The experience is entirely safe because, on this occasion, punters are not gambling real money.

Casinos Poland
Marriott Hotel
65/79 Jerozolimskie Ave.
tel. 0-22 584-96-53, 0-22 584-96-50, 0-22 584-96-73
e-mail: Iwona Marzoch, imarzoch@casinospoland.pl
Joanna Starożyk, jstarozyk@casinopoland.pl
Open daily 11 a.m.-7 a.m.

Hyatt Hotel
23 Belwederska St.
tel. 0-22 559-14-40, 0-22 559-14-56
e-mail: Barbara Górzyńska, bgorzynska@casinospoland.pl
Open daily 4 p.m.-6 a.m.

Olympic Casino
Olympic Casino Sunrise
Hilton Hotel
63 Grzybowska St.
tel. 0-22 351-72-60
Metropol Hotel
99a Marszałkowska St.
tel. 0-721-806-243
Janki Shopping Mall
3 Mszczonowska St., Janki near Warsaw
tel. 0-22 463-44-99
Open 24/7

Sofitel Victoria Hotel
11 Królewska St.
Tel. 0-22 827-66-33
e-mail: victoria@orbiscasino.pl
Grand Hotel
28 Krucza St.
Tel. 0-22 621-52-88
e-mail: casinogrand@orbiscasino.pl
Grand Hotel
28 Krucza St.
Tel./fax 0-22 621-02-88
Open Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-3 a.m.,
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-3 a.m.

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