Review written by Sophie Couard, February 23, 2016.
The California is located in downtown Las Vegas on the corner of Ogden and Main Street, and it has a casino, several restaurants and a large hotel. There is also a garage and a free valet service at the southeast entrance.
The California is not really located in the best position, as it is slightly off the Downtown area in Las Vegas. Because of this there are not many passers-by visiting the casino. In order to combat this the establishment is targeting a niche market, that of Hawaii. In fact, the establishment has signed numerous contracts with tour operators of the American archipelago and when you walk around the complex, you will surely notice the many Hawaiian visitors. Many of them also wear those colourful shirts (which means that it is perhaps not just a stereotype...).
You can enjoy a Hawaiian atmosphere where the slot machines are called Aloha slots and where restaurants often cook Polynesian cuisine. So, why did they name the casino California? Well, the theme was implemented after the casino was created, and for over 20 years it was a regular downtown Las Vegas complex.
A common casino
The Hawaiian atmosphere in the middle of the Nevada desert is a very original theme. However, this does not necessarily attract more customers to the establishment. The players are mostly interested in gambling, and in this case it is great, as the casino itself is very nice.
The casino is relatively standard, as for example, the payout rates are not better or worse than elsewhere, and the game selection doe not offer anything unique either. However, I have to admit that playing there was a lot of fun.
Besides, the Hawaiian atmosphere is not necessarily very foreign. You will however see that the visitors are often smiling and they are always polite. After all, when you live in the sun right next to the sea, it is hard not to see the good side of life.
The slot machines
There are 1,000 slot machines from 1 cent to $5 in the California casino. Among them are:
- traditional slot machines with mechanical reels,
- modern video slot machines,
- video poker,
- video keno.
The most popular games are currently (at time of writing this review):
- Buffalo Gold,
- Dragon of Destiny,
- Golden Amulet.
The table games
The selection of traditional games is a little bit smaller, as the casino only has 28 tables with:
- craps from $5,
- roulette from $5,
- blackjack from $10,
- let it ride from $5,
- three card poker from $5,
- super fun 21 from $5,
- texas hold'em bonus from $5,
- pai gow poker from $10.
The casino has a large space for keno, which is located near the craps tables. You can even play this lottery game while playing other casino games. You can also follow the draws of the balls from your hotel room by switching to television channel 6. The casino also holds several live tournaments by invitation throughout the year.
There is also a small space for race & sports betting located on the second floor. There is nothing unusual here, except that there is also a special calendar highlighting all future competitions of the University of Hawaii. The matches of the Aloha Bowl league are also prominently displayed.
Let me finish this review about the California casino by mentioning that, according to the laws of the State of Nevada, the game rooms can be accessed by everyone, but if you want to play the games you have to be an adult, that is to say, be at least 21 years.
Other services aside from gambling
The California is an establishment in downtown Las Vegas. It is not a high end resort on the Strip. This means that the services cannot be compared to, for example, the Caesars Palace or the Bellagio. However, the establishment still offers some additional activities aside from the casino to attract visitors.
The hotel is very basic, but perfectly sufficient, and the rates are also very low. You can get a room for $20 to $40 during the low season, and for $35 - 50 during the high season.
You cannot expect the same luxuries that you can find in the rooms at the resorts on the Strip, and the rooms look a little antiquated and they are relatively small, but they are well equipped and always very clean. You can definitely enjoy good value for money.
The California offers a few different options when it comes to dining, and they are suitable for any kind of budget.
You can dine at the following restaurants:
- the Redwood Bar and Grill,
- the California Noodle House.
There is also a restaurant for the general public: the Market Street Café.
If you just want to have a snack, you can find:
- Aloha Specialities,
- California Club,
- Lappert's Ice Cream Shop.
Only a few recreational facilities
There are not many things to do for entertainment. Besides playing games in the casino you can visit :
- a swimming pool that is not very crowded,
- an arcade,
- three bars (Dave's Bar, Main Street Bar and the San Francisco Pub),
- a few shops.
To summarise the review, I can say that it is clear that you could make a much worse choice than the California. This casino-hotel offers very good (and cheap) accommodation, good restaurants (and cheap), and also a great games room (with very low betting limits). So, if you are on a budget and want to have a great time, this is the place to visit.
On the downside though, you have to accept the small number of leisure facilities. But after all, you are in the downtown area and not on the Strip, so it is not really a reason to complain. I do not think so, and that is why I enjoyed my stay in this unusual establishment.