It’s been many years since my partner, Austin, and I visited Vancouver Island’s only casino in the Victoria neighbourhood of View Royal. The facility has undergone extensive renovations in its transformation from View Royal Casino to Elements Casino Victoria and tonight is the grand opening of the new venue.
We spin the car into the rounded front entry, appreciating the ease of valet parking. Walking in the front door for the first time, we’re stunned by the transformation of the space. Now with a fully developed second level, the renovated casino is more than double its original size.
The facility has a warm and inviting atmosphere and is fuelled by an undercurrent of thrilling energy. Aerial dancers float throughout the room, costumed in whimsical wear and elaborate makeup. On the floor, magicians wander through the crowd, bewildering guests with wild tricks, and women dressed as iconic Vegas showgirls dazzle patrons in bright silver outfits with matching headdresses. Traditional Aboriginal dancers are followed by an equally spectacular Chinese Lion dance and pig roast — something believed to bestow good luck on the venue and those who eat the meat.
Austin and I cut through the crowd and take the escalator up to the second level where the VIP cocktail party is unfolding. We have the opportunity to mix with some of the major players who brought the new facility to light.
“Introducing Elements Casino Victoria to [our] family of properties is a momentous occasion for us,” said Raj Mutti, vice president of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation’s western operation, adding that the new venue will be in the ranks of River Rock Casino Resort, Hard Rock Casino Vancouver and Elements Casino in Surrey.
Open from 9 am until 4 am during the week and 24-hours Friday and Saturday, the facility is a local retreat and outlet for entertainment regardless of the time.
“We are looking to continue to grow and contribute to the maturation of Victoria and the entertainment scene,” says Chris Lynn, executive director of Great Canadian’s Vancouver Island Casino Operations.
Looking at the gaming floor below I am certain that Elements Casino Victoria will be a major destination for vacationers to lower Vancouver Island, and also residents seeking an unforgettable night out.
|Gaming machines at Elements Casino Victoria. (Don Denton photography)|
“What we’re trying to do is offer something to everyone. And everyone wants different forms of entertainment,” says Chris. “This venue is something very different than what it used to be. We now have dining experiences, local entertainment on Friday and Saturday night in the Well Public House, and larger shows in the multipurpose Platinum Room that can be used for anything you can imagine.”
Austin and I walk into the adjacent Platinum Room, which is a 500-person space designed to host a variety of events and performances. Tonight the stage is ready and waiting under cool blue lights. In just a few short hours Canadian rock icon and eight-time Juno Award winner Tom Cochrane, with Red Rider, will be the first artists to perform on the new stage.
Making our way back down to the 70,000-square-foot gaming floor, Austin and I take in the surrounding space, which features approximately 800 slot machines, 25 table games and high stakes slot machines and baccarat in the casino’s designated privé spaces. Austin leads us to the baccarat table, which is his game of choice. He immediately loses $50. I feel bad for him so I give him other $50. He loses again; now I feel bad for me.
“I’ll win it back,” Austin says with a grin that I know all too well.
Austin gets comfortable at the baccarat table with a cocktail, a stack of chips and fierce determination. I look up at one of the aerial dancing goddesses above me and pray for his good luck (and my $50 back) before I wander off to explore.
Dining options at the casino are abundant. The Well Public House serves casual dining favourites and well-crafted drinks. Chi Express offers Asian cuisine, including a variety of noodle bowls and bubble tea, the 1708 Quick Bites serves up delicious burgers, and the casino’s Diamond Buffet presents fresh and locally sourced food selections prepared daily. The dining facilities are filled with patrons happily chattering and fuelling up before Tom Cochrane and Red Rider take the stage.
The day’s remaining light pours in from sprawling windows along the front of the venue. It floods the space all the way to the soaring ceiling above. The facility feels revitalized, welcoming and sophisticated with modern components. Everyone on the floor is filled with excitement — whether playing a game, enjoying a drink at the Well Public House’s bar or ogling a magician — the room is buzzing.
I spot Austin from across the room laughing and chatting with the other players at the table — always a very good sign — and we end the evening on an excellent note.
On our drive home Austin and I chat about the casino. When I ask him what specifically he liked about it, his answers were completely different from my own and in this moment I fully understand what Chris meant: there is something for everyone at Elements Casino Victoria.
– Story by Chelsea Forman