Casino Mahjong is a part of Hotel Mayfair, a 5 star hotel near Ranipool, a little outside of Gangtok city. One can take a reserve taxi from Gangtok (Rs. 300 one way) or a share taxi going towards Ranipool (Rs. 40) and get down at Hotel Mayfair. The casino charges an entry fee of Rs. 3000 which includes government tax (Rs. 500), unlimited snacks, drinks, and buffet dinner, and non-cash casino chips of Rs. 2000 (Rs. 500x4). Entry fee is valid for 24 hours which means next day's entry is almost free when only Rs. 500 is charged to cover food and beverages. Credit Cards are accepted. Non-cash chips can be used at table games but the player needs to bet a minimum of Rs. 500 using these chips. If the player wins, winning is paid using cash chips. At Casino Sikkim, one needs to pay Rs. 2000 for unlimited drinks, snacks and buffet dinner plus Rs. 2000 worth of non-cash chips that can be broken in to Rs. 100 each. Casino Mahjong being more of a tourist attraction can afford to have stricter rules and still get visitors. Quality of drinks and snacks is almost similar in both Gangtok casinos but I found buffet dinner at Casino Sikkim of a better quality. (Read more below)
|Casino Mahjong at Hotel Mayfair Gangtok, Sikkim|
|A hostess at Casino Mahjong, Hotel Mayfair Gangtok, Sikkim|
Casino Mahjong is larger and its restaurant and entertainment area is partitioned from the gaming floor. Slot machines are outside the main casino floor and have minimum bet of Rs. 10 each. I tried a few of them and had absolutely no luck. These are multi reel electronic slots where winning can be expected by playing all the 21 lines. That means each spin costs Rs. 210 and is over in a matter of seconds. Pay-out ratio is unknown and I think would be around 80%. Slots are best avoided in any casino in India. Main gaming area has about 10 tables consisting of Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Mini Flush, and Kitty.
Minimum bet at Roulette starts at Rs. 50 (number) and Rs. 200 (outside). Other table games have minimum and maximum bets of Rs. 200 and Rs. 10,000 apart from one Rs. 500 minimum Baccarat table. No surrender is allowed in Blackjack. Anyway no one seems to play Blackjack in Gangtok. Similar to Casino Sikkim, cash cannot be tendered at the tables. The player needs to exchange cash for chips at the counter or use the help of one of the guest relations executives or GREs (helpful girls who stand around the tables willing to provide any assistance the players need) who will get the chips from the counter in exchange for cash or using your credit card.
Casino Mahjong being a "tourist attraction" like I already said, gaming experience here sometimes can be less than professional. More 'first time' visitors on a table game not only slow down the game but sometimes end up irritating the dealer and other players. The dealer has to spend more time telling the players not to touch the cards or not to take the cards off the table or even in explaining the rules of the game. From the casino's point of view, being a tourist attraction can be beneficial and anyway no one can do anything about it.
Entertainment / Dining
The restaurant has a small stage for dance performances which go on up to 1 a.m. It looked like the casino has two male and three female dancers permanently in its employment who dance to latest Hindi film songs. The performances can be seen from some of the gaming tables. After a while, the entertainment becomes repetitive but if one needs a break from the table game one has been playing for 3 hours, it would be nice to get a drink and sit in the restaurant to watch this live Chitrahaar for 15 minutes before heading back to tackle that tough dealer. Buffet dinner starts getting out of stock around mid night so it would be better to eat early. The casino provides complementary ride to the players' Gangtok hotel though one may have to wait for a car to be available.
A casino is supposed to be an avenue for entertainment and going to Casino Mahjong in a group can be a lot of fun. Music and dance, food and drinks, coupled with a bit of luck at the tables can make for a memorable trip. For serious gamblers, they have VIP cabins. I hope Casino Mahjong rethinks its policy of Rs. 500 only non-cash chips and pay more attention to buffet dinner service.
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Click here for my review of Casino Sikkim (Hotel Royal Plaza) Gangtok, Sikkim
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