If you haven’t been to a land-based casino since the lockdown ended in South Africa, you’re in for a big surprise. GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World might be one of the oldest and most established gambling hubs in Cape Town but these days it’s a ghost town compared to high street betting shops like Hollywoodbets and Playa bets.
Though at GrandWest, we must admit that customer safety is at least a priority in these uncertain times. After passing security at the door, every customer enters a screening station where strict Covid-19 protocols related to sanitisation and contact tracing were followed, a theme which repeats itself through the venue.
Gambling at GrandWest Casino
It had been a while since our last visit, but upon entering the casino, we were met with the usual rows of slot machines of which there are 1802 between the smoking and non-smoking areas. For table players, there are 50 games available (during peak times) including blackjack, poker, roulette and others. MVG Platinum and Diamond members can also visit the Salon Privé, a separate gaming area that offers a variety of slot machines and tables with varying high denominations.
Too much red tape
Though before we could start playing we had to wait in line to apply for an MVG card, which was a huge anticlimax! The days of rocking up to GrandWest with some cash in your pocket and playing a few slots are gone. We felt frustrated that after making a trip to the casino, we couldn’t start playing sooner, especially when betting online at home is so easy. This is likely due to covid regulations on temporary cards, but it did make us feel rather unwelcome.
And sadly, our frustrations weren’t over yet. These only dissipated over a cold beer at lunch which we’ll get to a bit later.
Visit the Sunbet Sports Betting Lounge
The first thing we did after passing through the velvet ropes was to find the new Sunbet Lounge which we wanted to check out as the main purpose of our visit. Sun International has converted the old Alibama Bar into a Sunbet retail shop where you can place bets on any Horse Racing, Sports, Lotteries (Lucky numbers) or BetGames.
Like the rest of GrandWest Casino, the Sunbet Lounge is busiest over weekends when there’s more sporting action on the go and most punters aren’t at work.
The Sunbet Lounge looks like a typical betting shop with lots of screens and sitting areas, but the leather couches, ambient lighting and stylish gold finishings make it more upmarket. One obvious downside to the Sunbet Lounge is the lack of food and drinks available, which you can find at most betting shops around South Africa.
A dance with lady luck
After standing in the Sunbet Lounge and watching the screen wall for a while, we decided to have a quick bet on BetGames Lucky 7. We walked up to the cashier and asked for a R100 bet on Over 3.5 yellow balls in the next draw, which she struck for us quite quickly and confidently, which was a nice touch as the market we chose isn’t the easiest to find.
We then turned to the screen where the BetGames Lucky 7 live stream soon started and were pleased to hit a winner straight away with 5 yellow balls arriving!
When speaking to the cashier, she said that most punters at the Sunbet Lounge bet on horseracing but soccer and BetGames were also popular. The maximum payout in the Sunbet Lounge is R3 million with big wins always paid to customers via EFT. In our case, cashing out the winnings from our bet at the window was very quick and easy.
Slots at GrandWest
Next, we walked back into the casino and loaded up our MVG cards with a bit of cash and sat down at a row of slots that looked inviting. Due to Covid-19 regulations, only every second machine was in operation and there was a plastic screen separating every chair to increase social distancing.
Unfortunately, it’s much harder to enforce these regulations with table games like Roulette where you have to lean forward to place your bets while getting closer to other players and often handling the same chips.
We couldn’t keep lady luck on our side while playing the slots, but what completely ruined the experience for us was the extremely slow cash out on the machines. It took almost five minutes for us both to get our cards out of the slot machine and walk away which is a terrible customer experience.
We couldn’t help but compare this to betting online in South Africa, where cashing out is quick and easy every time.
Eat while you’re there
Lunch was calling and so our last stop at GrandWest was the Hussar Grill, one of the many excellent restaurants available, where steak and cold beer helped soothe our frustrations after a rather underwhelming experience playing at the casino.
Play with Sunbet online and save the hassle!
After our afternoon at GrandWest, I can’t say that it was great to be back. We were both left more convinced than ever that online betting is not only more convenient for punters but the in-person betting experience isn’t what it used to be due to Covid-19.
By choosing to bet online at home, you can get your money down faster, play a bigger selection of games at a higher RTP, and save the cost of a trip to the casino. It’s a no-brainer!
If you haven’t already signed up with Sunbet, register now and get your First Deposit matched 100% up to R1 000! With a Sunbet online account, you’ll get all the benefits of playing at Sun International casinos from the comfort of home or by simply using the device in your pocket.