After much fanfare, the latest development in Grand Theft Auto’s expansive online game map is now live. And it’s pretty neat. This isn’t some new facility solely used for missions or illegal jobs for your character to raise some extra game bucks. Instead, it’s a way to relax, have fun and probably lose some of your GTA$.
Diamond Casino & Resort, in the downtown Vinewood area, is everything you’d expect from an upscale gambling resort. Pull up outside the doors in your (probably stolen) sports car, leave it outside and step inside. What awaits is a new world of fun where your gangster character can indulge in some drinking, gambling and partying – just the sort of thing a good hard man or woman needs.
The glitzy addition is just the sort of cool feature you’d expect from the highest-grossing media title in history. It’s like having your own Las Vegas casino right at your fingertips.
Table games and slot machines
If you’ve been to a real casino resort before, you’ll know it’s a cool experience, and GTA has managed to capture that well. Like the rest of the game, it’s a lifelike destination. First, you must register as a casino member at the reception desk. Then, convert some of your hard-earned (or most likely illegally earned) cash into casino chips and away you go.
The layout is true to life, with banks of slot machines where you can sit down and begin throwing your money away. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and win, meaning you can head out and buy yourself a new helicopter.
There are also traditional table games to play, including roulette, blackjack and three-card poker. Most of these are simple to play, which might explain why Rockstar has initially used them. However, in Red Dead Redemption, players can play Texas Hold’em Poker, and it’s thought this may soon be added to GTA as well. Texas Hold’em, the type of poker you see on television, is more of a skill game, so in preparation for any arrival in Los Santos, you may want to practice online without risking a cent. Get yourself some real-life poker skills and you might clean-up against other gangsters in Grand Theft Auto Online – without a shot being fired.
Wheel of fortune and horse racing
Each day you visit the Diamond Casino & Resort, you can spin the Lucky Wheel for free. Make sure you do, because you might win GTA$, special discounts, clothes, and even a fancy high-end vehicle, which you’ll probably go and wrap around a lamppost moments later.
It’s not just traditional table games and slots on offer. Try Inside Track, the virtual horse racing game. You may not know anything about the horses, but after a few virtual drinks at least you can pretend to be a king of the track.
Relax, buy a penthouse
Of course, visiting a casino is not just about gambling. Like many other joints in GTA, you can buy yourself drinks at the swanky casino bars. Down too many and you’ll begin feeling fuzzy and walking like your legs are strangers to the rest of your body.
If you’re a high roller, you can buy a penthouse at the resort, an ideal base from which you can run your criminal empire with everything you’ll ever need at your fingertips. If you bag a penthouse, then you’ll get VIP Membership and a whole new world, a super-rich casino lifestyle, including complimentary valet, free champagne and limo services, an aircraft concierge and, of course, access to special high limit tables.
Introducing the Cheng dynasty
Casino owner Tao Cheng owns the Diamond Casino & Resort, but life’s not all glitter and gold for him. You’ll soon find out that his team is facing a hostile takeover bid from the ruthless Duggans cartel from Texas. And when we say hostile takeover, we mean it in every sense of the word.
Like so much in Grand Theft Auto, you can get involved to try to help Mr. Cheng. By working with casino head of operations Agatha Baker, can you save the day?
Don’t like to gamble? No problem
These story missions mean if you don’t like the idea of spending your virtual dollars in a casino, you can still enjoy the action – the type that involves guns and questionable high-speed driving skills in a flashy Lamborghini. If you haven’t played Grand Theft Auto Online for a while, now’s the perfect time to get back online and give it a try.
Visual journalist/Graduating student, University of Missouri-Columbia. Lover of everything in the gaming industry and an avid fan of all films!