Casino Rama Ontario Review for July 2024

Ziv Chen

Updated by Ziv Chen

Writer

Michael Graham

Fact Checked by Michael Graham

Content Editor

Last Updated 6th Jul 2024, 03:49 PM

Pack up your overnight bag and head out on the road to Casino Rama, the only First Nation casino in Ontario! Boasting a fully stocked casino, an all-suite hotel, a full-service Spa, a 5,000-seat entertainment space, and the stunning backdrop of Lake Couchiching, Casino Rama is one of the most eye-catching and relaxing places to play.

The resort is owned by Gateways Casinos and Entertainment Limited, one of the largest and most successful gaming companies in Canada. Gateways has more than 30 established casinos, several of which are built on First Nation land. 

Launched in 1992, Gateway has more than 30 years of experience operating successful casinos across North America. Casino Rama has long been hailed as one of the most beautiful casinos in Canada, but the COVID-19 pandemic had a hard and long-lasting impact on its operations. Almost three years after re-opening, I decided it was time to check out its beauty for myself.

Keep reading for all the insider information on Casino Rama, including its location, accommodation options, game selection, customer service, dining options, general atmosphere, and more. 

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♦️ An Overview of Casino Rama Ontario

Casino Rama is Ontario’s only First Nations casino resort. Located on the progressive Rama First Nation, the casino is far removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown Ontario, offering its guests the rare luxury of a quiet gambling getaway. The casino sits inside a whopping 192,000-square-foot resort, containing over 1,800 slot machines, 50+ live dealer tables, multiple ELTs, and plenty of high-limit games. 

Due to its remote location, it is both costly and inconvenient to reach by public transport, which is why it attracts a more mature crowd of road-tripping retirees and senior coach parties. 

That said, many younger guests make the drive out to attend events in the casino’s entertainment space, which hosts major gigs from performers like Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Ringo Starr, Carrie Underwood, and Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. 

🎰 Games at Casino Rama Ontario

Casino Rama has over 1,800 slot machines, including Vegas-style classics, progressive jackpots, multi-denomination games, and video poker. No matter your niche, there are enough machines to ensure you find what you’re looking for. 

Table game enthusiasts will be pleased to learn there are more than 50 live dealer tables covering multiple blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and poker variants. The tables have a pretty high minimum bet of between $15-25 (depending on your game of choice). If it’s high limits you’re looking for, check out the dedicated High Limit area. Here, you’ll find tables with bets from $25 to $15,000.

If you’re on a tighter budget, the Electronic and Dealer Assist tables offer wagers from $5 to $300 (up to $2,500 on baccarat). These modern gaming terminals allow you to wager on up to eight games at the same time and are ideal for beginner bettors looking to play live dealer games without the pressure of a real table. 

A keen poker player myself, I was disappointed to learn there was no dedicated poker room, just a dozen or so tables huddled in a corner of the casino. Just like the closed restaurants, Casino Rama’s poker room shut down during the pandemic and never re-opened. It’s not all bad, though, because the main gaming floor has a broad selection of variants like Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud, High Card Flush, Big Raise Stud, and EZ No Commission Pai Gow. 

Casino Rama boasts a huge number of games, but they’re spread over one floor, so it’s easy enough to find your way around. I like that the casino groups together its new and featured slots and uses clear signage to highlight them to guests. 

🛏️ Accommodation at Casino Rama Ontario

Since it’s so far from downtown, most guests choose to turn their night of gambling fun into a weekend getaway and stay in the all-suite hotel. Housing 292 luxury suites, a full-service Spa (with steam rooms and a sauna), a fitness facility, an indoor saltwater pool, and The Weirs breakfast restaurant, the hotel provides the ultimate relaxation package for its overnight guests. 

Rooms start at $189 per night, but guests on a tighter budget can stay a 10-minute walk away at the Days Inn hotel. 

Every hotel guest gets access to the Spa and its facilities, which include an indoor saltwater pool, a sauna, and a steam room. It’s worth noting that the saunas are gendered, which, as a solo traveller, was fine for me. However, just beware that you and your partner or friends may not be able to sauna together. 

🛎️ Services and Facilities at Casino Rama Ontario

Unfortunately, several of the casino’s restaurants are closed when I visited. The Willow, Noodle Bar, and the Firestarter Lounge have not re-opened since the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. After chatting to the girls at the front desk, it seems that the casino is struggling to recruit enough staff to re-open all of its facilities. I had a look at the job openings on the casino website, and it looks like they’re short on cooks, servers, cleaners, ushers, and room attendants. No wonder everything is closed!

That said, the remaining restaurants do provide a decent range of dining options. St. Germain’s is a fine-dining steakhouse serving up AAA Alberta beef and exceptional seafood from Wednesday to Sunday. Meanwhile, the Couchiching Court Buffet offers all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner for $28.99 and $38.99, respectively. Cedar Express offers fast food in the form of pizza and sandwiches from 8am until 10pm (or 12pm on Fridays and Saturdays), while the Weir serves breakfast until 11:30am. 

Simcoe Yard House, arguably the most popular of all, has HD TVs mounted across its wall to ensure you don’t miss any action while chowing down on some tasty grub. Simcoe also has live music every Friday and Saturday night, which, combined with its sports-lounge atmosphere and big screen TVs (plus the strange but surprisingly tasty ‘beer cocktails’), make it one of the liveliest spots in the casino. Both Simcoe and Cedar Express shut at midnight, while the other restaurants close at 9pm. 

Since there are fewer restaurants, they fill up pretty quickly. If you’re attending a concert and hoping to dine first, make sure to arrive in plenty of time, as you may be queueing for up to an hour during peak times. 

The casino itself is smoke-free, but there are outdoor spaces where you can smoke or vape (most of which provide a lovely scenic backdrop for a smoke break). Interestingly, the hotel has a dedicated smoking floor, which is permissible due to its position on First Nation land. I’ve not encountered this before and was concerned that the smell of smoke would permeate the rest of the hotel, but I didn’t detect a whiff of it at any point during my trip. 

192K Sq. Ft Venue
50+ Live Tables
2 Entertainment Space
1.8k+ Slot Machines
24/7 Always Open

Venue size: Casino Rama manages to fit more than 1,800 slots (comparable to the best online casinos), 292 suites, multiple restaurants, and a 5,000-seat entertainment space into its 192,000-square-foot resort. Though not as big as other Ontario casinos, it covers all the necessary bases and then some. Since it’s far from town, Casino Rama is designed to be an all-around gambling package that offers everything you need throughout your stay. 

Smoking: Cigarettes are permitted outside the casino but not indoors. Though there are outdoor smoking patios, smoking-permitted rooms, and the community-run Rama Cannabis shop a short walk away, smoking weed is prohibited in or around Casino Rama. However, Rama Cannabis sells a unique medicated beef jerky if you’re keen for a post-casino wind down (just remember the pizza bar closes at midnight). 

Customer service: The staff at Casino Rama are the real stars of the show. No task is too big, and everything is done with a smile. Though the staff roster is well over 1,000, there isn’t enough to re-open certain facilities. However, the quality of a casino’s staff should outweigh its quantity, and that’s certainly the case here. 

Casino Rama has over 1,800 slot machines, including Vegas-style classics, progressive jackpots, multi-denomination games, and video poker. No matter your niche, there are enough machines to ensure you find what you’re looking for.

👨‍🦽 Accessibility at Casino Rama Ontario

The casino, the hotel, and the entertainment venue are all completely wheelchair-accessible. 

Certain suites have accessible features like handlebars and lower bathroom counters, lifts operate on all floors, and wheelchairs are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

💰 Bonuses and Promotions at Casino Rama Ontario

Whether we're talking about new casinos or old, one thing they all have in common is promotions and players' clubs, and Casino Rama is no different.

Casino Rama has regular cash giveaways, where lucky guests can win a share of a generous six-figure prize every week. During my visit, there was a special Friday Night giveaway where $5,000 cash was awarded to a random guest every half hour. All you had to do was have an active card inserted into a slot or table game, and the money could be yours. By the end of the night, $50,000 had been given away to some very happy bettors.

Unlike some Ontario casinos (*cough cough Caesars Windsor*), Casino Rama doesn’t enforce super strict conditions on its promotions. As long as you’re playing, you’re in with a chance. Of course, you must sign up to be a member of the casino’s rewards scheme to join in the fun, but membership is free, and you can sign up at Guest Services. 

The membership in question is My Club Rewards, Gateway’s exclusive company-wide loyalty program. With My Club Rewards, members get access to exclusive promotions, freeplay points, dining credits, ticket giveaways, and reduced hotel rates. It works pretty much the same as any other casino rewards scheme, except that it can only be used at Gateway casino properties. 

There are a couple of dining promotions, including a weekly Sunday brunch with a live piano performance and a “Wing and Pint” special (1lb of wings and a 20 oz Bud or Bud Light for $5). The casino regularly offers discounts on different Spa treatments, which is the perfect non-casino promotion to claim during a weekend getaway. 

All in all, Casino Rama doesn’t have that many ongoing or one-off promotions. However, it is one of the best casinos in Ontario for regular cash giveaways. Seeing six guests in one night leaving the casino $5,000 richer was a truly unique experience that I don’t think you’ll get anywhere else. 

🎇 My Experience at Casino Rama Ontario

After checking into the hotel, I went for a swim and was pleased to find the pool filled with saltwater instead of chlorine. If you’ve not swam in a saltwater pool, it’s basically like having a huge Epsom salt bath that helps soothe your aching muscles (the nearby hiking trails and large OAP demographic likely played a key part in this decision). After a salty soak and a rinse, I headed over to the casino. 

I was pretty impressed by the volume of games on offer, as well as the friendliness and expertise of the dealers at the tables. Though it’s no Vegas casino, it’s clean, modern, and has everything you need to spend a few happy hours gambling. The staff on the casino floor were on hand to help me find a specific slot, while the pit boss was more than happy to explain the game rules to my newbie neighbour on the roulette table.

There are no tableside service buttons or snack carts circling, but the Centre Bar is conveniently placed in the middle of the casino floor. Since this bar is the only place open till 2am, I decided to visit the Simcoe Yard House before it closed, and I’m glad I did! The local band was incredible; the Raptors game was showing on the big screens, and you could soak in the atmosphere from the nearby rows of slot machines. 

When Simcoe closes at midnight, so too does the vibrant atmosphere of the casino. While this may be to preserve its status as a family-friendly venue, children aren’t even allowed in most of the dining establishments (only St. Germain’s and the Weir). I went back to the casino to see if the Centre Bar was providing the same atmosphere that Simcoe had, but it just couldn’t compete. I saw a few giddy concert-goers come in from the event hall only to find there was nowhere else to continue the party. 

I found it pretty disappointing that Simcoe closes so early, especially when there are no other venues on the reservation for casino guests or concert attendees to visit. If you’re looking for somewhere lively after midnight, your best bet is to take a cab into Orillia and check out one of the bars there, though it isn’t guaranteed that cabs will come to the casino. 

⭐ Standout Moment

Though I enjoyed the casino and had a very relaxing time in the Spa, the standout for me was definitely watching Avril Lavigne in the entertainment centre (even if my voice was hoarse from singing along). Though it seats 5,000, it’s a pretty small venue, so every single seat had a good view of the Pop Punk Princess. 

💭 My Verdict on Casino Rama Ontario

Far away from the busy nightlife of downtown Ontario, and with its busiest bar shutting up shop at midnight, Casino Rama is not the place to go for a wild night out. However, if you’re looking for a relaxing retreat where you can escape the chaos of city life while enjoying some exciting casino games, Casino Rama could be the ideal place for you. 

Rama is part of Ontario’s Lake Country, bordering both Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. Therefore, the resort is the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with multiple hiking trails, fishing spots, picturesque marinas, and exciting watersports to keep you entertained during the day. I’m not much of a trekker, but the nearby Hubs Rock trail was the perfect scenic but easygoing ramble to stretch the legs in the morning.

With a jam-packed casino, luxury hotel and Spa, a premier entertainment centre, and the stunning Rama First Nation on your doorstep, Casino Rama truly is the ideal gambling getaway. Though it’s advertised as child-friendly, I’d say that this resort is more aimed towards couples and coach parties than families with kids. 

One last thing I’ll say is that if you’re planning to drive up in an EV - particularly if you’re coming up for a concert and then heading straight back home again - I’d recommend stopping at Orilla or Barrie to charge your car. While the casino does advertise EV chargers through the valet, there are only two (and they charge incredibly slowly). It’s better to be over-prepared in case there are already two cars hooked up when you arrive. 

What I Liked and Didn't Like

Liked
Has everything you need on-site for a relaxed getaway
Fantastic selection of new and classic slots
All-suite hotel
Regular cash giveaways with no strict conditions
Good ventilation systems stop the smell of smoke travelling throughout the hotel
Didn't Like
No non-suite rooms make the hotel inaccessible for budget travellers
Half the restaurants are closed
Most bars and restaurants are shut by midnight
Not enough EV charging ports
No sports betting

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Meet The Author

25 Years
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Ziv Chen
Ziv Chen
Writer Writer

Ziv Chen has been working in the online gambling industry for over two decades in senior marketing and business development roles. Ziv writes about a wide range of topics including slot and table games, casino and sportsbook reviews, American sports news, betting odds and game predictions. Leading a life full of conflict, Ziv constantly struggles between his two greatest loves: American football and US soccer.

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