While it’s not known as Europe’s gambling capital, Romania first legalized gambling in the early 20th century. The Loteria Romania generated revenue for the government. The first modern casino was Casino Constanta, which opened in 1910.
A change in government in 1945 brought forth the end of legal gambling. This forced all casinos to close. The transition to a democratic government in 1989 led to a restoration of legalized gambling. The Intercontinental Hotel opened the Casino Bucharest on a lower floor in 1991.
The modest casino was considered one of Bucharest’s hidden gems for many years, but it has since been closed. The most recent traveler reviews were not complimentary. But Bucharest has many other casinos for curious visitors.
Palace Casino at Casa Vernescu
You’ll find all the usual games here, including real money blackjack, poker, roulette, and slots. Built in 1821, and rebuilt in 1822 after a devastating fire, Casa Vernescu was considered the most beautiful palace in Bucharest for many years. The palace is named for Liberal Party cofounder Gheorghe “Guna” Dimitrie Vernescu, who bought it from the Lens family in 1886.
The Palace Casino claims to be the only casino in Romania offering no limit maximum bets and the highest maximum payouts. They also offer their own original card game, Palace Poker. Lei and euros are the only accepted currencies.
Fortuna Palace Luxury Games
Fortuna Palace claims to offer the only Las Vegas-style electronic table gaming in Bucharest. Two electronic roulette tables provide players’ intimate experience.
High rollers play in a VIP room away from the main gaming area. The casino provides complimentary food and beverages to gamers throughout the day.
Grand Casino Bucharest
The Grand Casino Bucharest strives to live up to the promise of its name. The gaming areas are roomy and designed in elegant décor and lighting. The spacious table games section welcomes players who need a little space but want to be near the crowd.
Semi-secluded dining areas provide a view of the gaming action while creating an intimate atmosphere for small parties. The buffet area is modest but open to gamers. Grand Casino Bucharest appeals to gamers who appreciate an upscale experience.
Casino table games include blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, roulette, Texas Hold’em, and Three-Card Poker.
Fortuna Palace Promenada
The most distinctive thing about this casino is that it’s located in a popular shopping center. The casino offers slot machine games and electronic roulette.
Fortuna Palace is designed to appeal to casual tourists and shoppers who want a little entertainment during their afternoon or evening shopping trips. While high rollers will have to look elsewhere, people visiting Bucharest may be pleasantly surprised to find a casino near a shopping center entrance.
Travelers report enjoying time spent in Fortuna Palace, so don’t let its location put you off.
All-In Poker Club
They claim to be the largest poker club in Eastern Europe. Founded in 2013, the club is located on the 4th floor of the COCOR store near the city’s center.
Popular with local players, the club offers dozens of tables and a robust poker tournament schedule. Foreign travelers looking for a serious game have reported good experiences, but the locals do know each other.
This is a club, not a casino, so there won’t be many distractions or casino-like amenities.
Game World Bucharest Mall
Game World runs seven casinos in Romania. They opened the Game World Bucharest Mall in 1999 and still claim it’s the largest gaming room in Southeastern Europe.
Game World features slot machines from Bally, EGT, IGT, Novomatic, and WMS. Players can also enjoy roulette and lottery games.
Appealing to casual players, the casino offers complimentary drinks.
While the Radisson doesn’t provide a five-star experience for travelers, guests are invited to check out the hotel’s gaming room. Despite the colloquial décor, the casino has a large table game area separated from the slots.
Most of the games are slots, although there is also a blackjack section with several tables. The number of open tables depends on how many guests are playing and available staff.
Other games include roulette and poker. VIP players may be able to ask for a private room, depending on availability.
Other Things to Do When You Visit Bucharest
Bucharest is not the Las Vegas or Macau of Eastern Europe. But Romania offers many other interesting experiences for travelers.
People have lived in the area of Bucharest for thousands of years, although a city has stood there for only a few centuries at most. Once established, Bucharest rose to prominence within a couple of centuries, eventually earning the nickname “Paris of the East” or “Little Paris” for its many beautiful palaces and cosmopolitan culture.
The modern city reflects the region’s storied history, from the Old Town district to the many parks. The Palace of the Parliament is the most popular tourist attraction. Built under Nicolae Ceausescu, it was originally named the People’s House and served as both his home and the government center.
The 19th-century concert hall used by the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra is the Athenaeum. The hall is constructed in the style of a Greek temple and is applauded for its interior acoustics. The Athenaeum also features select art, including a 70-foot fresco depicting scenes from Romanian history.
Curtea Veche is the heart of Old Town. This palace once served as home to the Wallachian princes who governed the city and surrounding lands. The name is translated as “Princely Court.” Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler, lived there. He was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
After Romania’s King Michael I abdicated in 1947, the old Royal Palace was converted into the National Museum of Art. It remains dedicated to that purpose today. The museum’s collection consists of more than 100,000 works of art, much of which was created by Romania’s own elite native artists.
One of the largest outdoor museums globally, the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum preserves 300 buildings that depict traditional Romanian village life. The homes and other buildings were brought to the museum from all parts of Romania beginning in 1936, and visitors can wander through the buildings.
The park is located in the 400-acre King Michael I Park, which also houses an open-air theater, sports club, and amusement park. City residents love boating on the park’s lake. Some of Bucharest’s most elite neighborhoods about the park, adding to the scenery’s beauty and majesty.
Another popular and historical park is Carol Park, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (for Romania) is located. Carol Park is deemed by many to be the city’s most beautiful outdoor location and among its attractions is an open-air Roman-style theater named Aranele Romane.
Although Bucharest may be only a few hundred years old, the National Museum of Romanian History preserves artifacts from the past several thousand years. Items in the collection represent the Neolithic, Bronze, Iron, and Roman periods of history. Visitors can browse ancient treasures alongside medieval and modern jewels and other valuables.
Romania isn’t competing with Las Vegas or Macau for gambling tourism. But thanks to the country’s beautiful landscapes, dramatic history, and literary fame, over 15 million domestic and foreign tourists visit this popular European gambling destination every year.
Between 2 million and 3 million foreign tourists, many from the United Kingdom, visit this area annually. Romania is also popular with travelers from Spain, Poland, Hungary, and Austria. American and Canadian tourism have also increased in recent years.
One way to look at Romania’s casinos is as part of the local lifestyle. Some of them go out of their way to make foreigners feel welcome. Others obviously appeal more to the local population because they are more dependable customers.
If you’re passing through Bucharest on your way to Transylvania and want to drop a few euros on the tables or slots, you have many choices.