Skycity Darwin in Northern Territory has been open at the same site since 1983, undergoing several name changes along the way. When the Skycity Entertainment Group took over the former MGM Grand Darwin in 2004, the shift was another in a long string for the gambling property which began life as the Mindil Beach Casino.
Skycity is located just three kilometres from the Darwin city centre. Skycity is both a casino and hotel property, a medium-sized gambling operation that is, as of this writing, the largest in Skycity’s casino operations. The next biggest property owned by the group is the Skycity Hamilton in New Zealand, which is about 25 per cent smaller than the Darwin property in terms of the number of table games, pokies, and other gambling options available.
Skycity is the only government-licensed casino property in all of Darwin and by far the biggest in all of the Northern Territory. Gambling at the site is broken up into three different betting venues, each with their own room. The first is a collection of thirty-six table games, while the second (and largest) room is home to around 1,400 pokies and other machines. The third room is the biggest one dedicated to keno play in all of Australia, with 50 games running at any given time. The Skycity property is also home to a hotel with 107 rooms, along with four unique restaurants and five different bars, one of which is set aside for gambling customers only.
The casino’s collection of 1,496 gaming machines is broken up into three categories – 758 pokies are spread throughout the machine gaming room, along with forty different video poker games accepting wagers anywhere from AUD $0.10 up to AUD $1. The balance of the machine games are skill-based titles, some of which are hybrids of poker machines and table games, others are unique options built by the likes of Aristocrat and WMS Gaming.
As for the table and casino poker gaming options, a total of thirty-six run around the clock thanks to the casino being open for twenty-four hours a day except for Christmas, Easter, and Anzac Day. As many as eight different roulette tables are open at any given time, in both single zero and double zero variations. The selection of roulette games includes tables that take wagers as low as AUD $2.00 all the way up to high roller versions that set the minimum bet amount at AUD $50. The low stakes roulette games at Skycity use a double zero wheel (and its larger house advantage) to compensate for the smaller wagers. Players looking for single zero Euro or French games will have to place bets of at least AUD $5 per hand.
Fans of blackjack can find thirteen dedicated tables at Skycity, in bet ranges that vary from a minimum of AUD $5 to a maximum of AUD $1,000. Blackjack rules vary from table to table so gamblers looking for a specific set of rules have plenty of options to choose from.
Casino-style poker games at Skycity Darwin include four tables set aside for the popular Caribbean Stud Poker game, each of which has a different range of available wagers. The minimum bet on this and all other casino poker tables at Skycity is AUD $5, while some games allow bets of up to AUD $200 per hand.
Other table games and betting options at Skycity – both traditional baccarat and mini-baccarat, at which customers can wager between AUD $25 and AUD $1,000 per round, one Sic Bo table offering a wager range of AUD $5 all the way up to AUD $500, and the casino’s keno section with fifty different tables. Depending on the rules of the game, wagers as low as AUD $1 all the way up to AUD $9,999 are available.
Visitors to the casino and hotel complex can take their pick of the following restaurant sites: Cove, specializing in seafood, Dragon Court, an Asian diner serving lunch and dinner, EVOO, a more traditional eatery, the Italian restaurant il Piatto, a buffet called the Sunset Restaurant open for three meals a day, and both a swim-up bar in the resort’s pool are and a VIP terrace bar at the top of the hotel site.
Visitors can get to the casino centre via a courtesy ride from the Darwin airport or walk-up access from the nearby beach. The casual dress code and strict age restriction (only customers 18 and up can enter the casino) as well as a private gaming area for special guests and big spenders mean the atmosphere on the gaming floor is adult but not as formal as at other large casinos in Australia.
See also: Lasseters Alice Springs