Casinos in Kampala

Casinos in Kampala

Kampala can be an entertaining place to live. We have an almost endless list of bars and nightclubs, parties, restaurants, poetry nights, live music, dancehalls, and a variety of art openings. But even with all of this, there’s always room for a little more vice. Enter the casino: the all-in-one adult thunderdome that will supply us all with enough sin to last a lifetime.

The city provides a variety of betting options to those who feel lucky. So Living in Kampala has wandered around, plunking down our hard-earned shillings at the most popular three to give you, dear reader, the inside scoop on what to expect, what to demand, and what to consider before you ante up.

Simba Casino

Simba often seems like the most obvious option. They are located at Garden City, and their giant neon sign is probably their best advertising. Simba offers a variety of slot machines and tables, with all standard table games, including roulette, five/seven/three card poker, and pontoon/blackjack.

Now, most casinos in Kampala offer free drinks, cigarettes and food to players. However, it remains unclear how Simba operates within those standards. After dropping 190,000 UGX (and continuously playing blackjack and three card poker) at the casino, drinks were coming at a glacial pace, we were refused food, and after asking for cigarettes multiple times, they were angrily slammed down in front of us. We tried to clarify the casino’s policies with the management for the sake of the article, but the management refused to speak with us. Even standing right in front of us while she was personally addressed, the manager refused to meet our gaze and whispered to the pit boss instead. The dealers, who were unendingly polite to us throughout the night, seemed embarrassed, apologizing on behalf of the poor service. Needless to say, we left shortly after and it was on to the next one.

Mayfair Casino

Mayfair offers a range of poker games and slot machines in their spacious gaming room. It is by far the classiest casino in Kampala and had been a local favorite for years. However, Mayfair has recently changed their policy. Instead of plenty of free drinks, free cigarettes and food we were denied anything but soda after 2 drinks. When asking why, they told us we had already ordered eight drinks. Now, being rather normal sized ladies we assured the pit boss that if we’d had eight drinks we’d be on the ground mumbling incoherently. He told us perhaps we were too silly and drunk to know any better. When asked if he would speak this way to a man, he mumbled and walked away.

Despite (apparently) having eight whiskies in my system, I was able to clarify with the boss what their policy was. The new policy at Mayfair is you will receive 20% in gratuity of whatever you put in for the evening. This means that if you put in 200k, and are up, you will get around 2 drinks on the house. Is it worth it? We didn’t think so. Especially after the rude lecture. So it’s off again!

Kampala Casino

Kampala Casino is located in town on the 2nd floor of the Pan Africa house on Kimathi Ave. They have all the standard tables and slot machines of Simba and Mayfair but offer a much more relaxed atmosphere. The chips are older and the room is slightly dated, but it still manages to charm the way only an old poker house could. The dealers are well dressed in blouses and button up shirts and more than happy to joke and chat with the players. For those with minimal experience playing poker, it’s a great option as the staff is well trained, friendly, and happy to teach you the basics of the game. Customer service is quick and efficient. Beer, sodas, juices and finger foods are free for players, but harder alcohol must be purchased. For those of us who are wildly irresponsible, an afternoon at Kampala Casino can be a great diversion.

Pyramids Casino

Located on Yusuf Lule, this casino takes place inside a giant hallowed out pyramid. The styling is decadent and high winnings have been consistently reported by those who frequent the establishment. There was also food and drink offered up. However it should be noted that they expect you to play to win if you’re going to continue your merriment. So be prepared to plunk down lots of high bets if you want to keep the party rolling. However, this is a favorite with a lot of people and they host regular tournaments. So if you enjoy a serious game, head to Pyramids.

Taj Mahal Casino 

Taj Mahal is a bit of an odd duck. It’s a somewhat small establishment but they have decent food, friendly and attentive staff and plenty of drinks offered up generously. It also should be noted that the music, by far, is the best here. Rather than quiet Kenny G playing in the background (read: Mayfair) or no music at all, it’s actual popular hits. The dealers and pit bosses will help you out with a game if you’re learning, and calls for service are answered in record time. This adds fun to the gaming atmosphere. Taj Mahal Casino is located in the industrial district on First St. just off of Kampala-Jinja Rd.

For those who don’t like tables or slot machines, bingo nights are also available at both Mayfair and Simba Casinos. And if you can’t get enough poker, Mayfair and Pyramids host high-stakes poker games and tournaments once a week. But come prepared with cash, as the minimum bet can range from 100,000-200,000 UGX per play. It should also be noted that all casinos take cash denominations ranging from Euros to Dollars.

So go out, meet some friends, spend some money, make small talk with your tablemates, eat some decent ice cream, and take advantage of one of Kampala’s many vices. Just remember to tip the dealer, smile at the waiter, and enjoy yourself. Win or lose.

 

[WPMAP;47;260;640]

About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at lizabeth@livinginkampala.com.