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Thread: Visited Caesar's Windsor (Ontario, Canada - near Detroit) in May 2014

  1. #1
    In 2013, Caesar's had a promotion for existing Seven Stars where you would get a SECOND "Annual Trip" if you accumulated a minimum of 150k tier credits that year (basically renewed Seven Stars for the following year).

    I took my first annual trip to New Orleans in December.

    I had until June 30, 2014 to use my second 2013 trip.

    I like to use these trips to create a subsidized vacation for myself. That is, I pick somewhere I actually want to go, and I find a way to work the Caesar's visit into it. I don't gamble at all on these trips. I usually fly back from a different airport than the one I originally fly into.

    On this trip, I chose to create a 6-day/5-night trip to three places:

    - Caesar's Windsor (Detroit area, but the hotel is in Canada)
    - Niagara Falls, Ontario (230 miles from Windsor)
    - Toronto (90 miles from Niagara Falls)

    On this trip, Caesars would pay for:

    - My airfare and my wife's airfare (flying into Detroit and out of Toronto)
    - My hotel stay at Caesar's Windsor
    - $500 in food and/or gift shop purchases at Caesar's Windsor

    I would be paying for:

    - My rental car
    - My son's airfare
    - All food and hotels in Niagara and Toronto


    I won't bother posting about the Niagara and Toronto parts of the trip, since this is a gambling forum, and you're probably more interested in Caesar's Windsor and my Seven Stars trip there.


    Setting it Up

    Before I go on, you should know that I am a Seven Stars member, but not exactly the type of customer that hosts like to deal with. This is because I use the maximum benefits and play the minimum to achieve my level. In addition, I have played fewer than 100 tier credits in 2014, while using every benefit available to me. While this is technically the hosts' responsibility to book this trip, I know that they don't feel like doing me many favors, and I do as much as I can by myself. Also, I get it done quicker and more accurately/efficiently this way.

    I called Caesar's Windsor directly and set up the hotel room. I was disappointed to hear that they were refusing to provide me a suite ("Your play doesn't justify it"), and they couldn't even guarantee me a room with a view. I specifically booked for a trip starting Wednesday night because their only high end restaurant, Nero's Steakhouse, is closed on Monday and Tuesday. I actually told the host at Windsor this, because initially I booked a trip starting Monday, and then called to change it.

    The flight portion was a pain in the ass because my son is only 3 years old, and there was no way to book him "by himself" online, even though he's technically on the same plane as me and his mom. I had to do this over the phone, and it was a pain, but I won't bother going into detail. I did manage to finagle free "economy plus" on the flight out there (from the airline, not Caesars), as a result of my hassle. Interestingly, Caesars refuses to book minors as your traveling companion on these trips. They claim it's because of legal reasons, but I don't believe that, because you CAN take a minor as your travel companion on the NCL Cruise benefit.

    Our plan was: 2 nights in Detroit, 1 night in Niagara, 2 nights in Toronto



    Arriving in Detroit

    We landed in Detroit in the early evening, to where it was still somewhat light outside. Obviously you've heard about all the problems in Detroit, and we weren't looking forward to spending any kind of time in the city. I had originally planned to spend most of our time there in Windsor (despite the appearance that there was little to do there), and perhaps visit an island park that is technically part of Detroit.

    The Detroit airport is like 30 miles from the Canadian border, and is not actually in the city of Detroit. However, once we got into Detroit itself, my wife and I were fascinated. On both sides of the freeway, there were burnt out, dilapidated, and crumbling houses. Not just a few. Whole neighborhoods looked like this. You don't see anything like this in the western US -- not even in the poorest ghettos.

    We decided to research that evening whether a visit to these areas (during the day) would be safe, as we were really curious about seeing it.

    After reading a few Detroit-area forums, I determined that, yes, it was safe to visit the ruins of Detroit during the day. We had our plan for the next day.

    Crossing the border was a pain in the ass. There were several lines, and you would have to choose one at random. I always seemed to choose the wrong/slowest line. Basically, if one person ends up taking a long time with the border patrol, you are stuck waiting for them to finish. On our first border crossing, the border patrol person took a 20-minute break, and we were stuck!

    Caesar's was literally right over the border in Windsor. Windsor (Ontario, Canada) has a very strange location. It is directly SOUTH of Detroit, despite being in Canada!

    There were signs all over town directing you to Caesar's. It's definitely the most influential and powerful business in Windsor.

    It was very difficult to figure out the parking at Caesar's Windsor. I was just trying to temporarily park, register, take my stuff to the room, and then self park. Not so easy! The most obvious entrance was actually an entrance to the side of the casino. No registration there!

    It was then very difficult to find my way to the valet/registration area. Finally I got there, temporarily parked the car, and went to register. This is when I was delievered a bit of bad news...


    No Kids Allowed

    The gambling age in Canada is 19. Anyone under 19 is considered a "minor". My son, being 3, obviously missed that cutoff by a mile, but he would have been treated the same there even if he were 18.

    They told me that I couldn't be in the tower with the best view because it was an "adults only" tower. Okay... no problem, but it would have been nice if I was told this when I made the reservation.

    However, knowing that I wasn't really staying there for the view, it wasn't a big deal. Besides, even had I known, it wouldn't have changed my decision to go there.

    We went through the registration process, and then I got the bomb dropped on me:

    "Since your child is under 19, you will be unable to access most of the property with him. This includes all restaurants, other than the one you see right across from us."

    She pointed to a middle-eastern-themed restaurant, which is quite inexpensive and really more of a "lunch" place (even though it's open for dinner).

    This meant we couldn't go to Nero's Steakhouse -- the reason I changed the reservation to Wednesday in the first place!

    I was really annoyed that the host never warned me about this. I didn't tell her that I was traveling with a 3-year-old, but I also didn't say I was traveling there alone. It's a pretty big deal that anyone with kids aged 0-18 can't access most of the property, including almost all of the restaurants. A responsible host would have asked, "Are you bringing any children? If so, let me tell you about our policy..." No one told me anything until I showed up there, from over 2,000 miles away.

    I argued that they needed to make an exception in some way. They informed me that it was against Canadian law for minors to enter the casino in any way, and that it required an entry to the casino in order to access the steakhouse.

    I then came up with the idea to have the steakhouse deliver the food for room service. After initially being told "No", they checked into it further and agreed. Props to the Windsor for this. They could have given me the middle finger, and I would have had no recourse.

    It was especially important for me to have the steakhouse because I had $500 in food credits to spend in 2 days, and it would have been virtually useless at that one cheap restaurant. The $500 could not be used for alcohol, according to Canadian law.

    The room was nice. It was fairly large for a standard room, and we had an okay view of the river and Belle Isle island. Not as nice as the skyline view from the adult tower, but obviously nothing I could do about that, given our 3-year-old's presence.

    We had our meal fairly late, and it was hit-and-miss by expensive steakhouse standards. I had to basically order around $225 worth of food for two people and a 3-year-old, EXCLUDING alcohol, so obviously I was very liberal with what I ordered. Some items were good, while others were mediocre and/or not kept warm enough for the room service trip. I decided not to complain because they had already gone out of their way so much for me, and I left a nice tip for the guy who brought it to us. (Rob Singer wouldn't approve, I'm sure!)

    The self-park was really weird. It was across the street, and had a weird side entrance. You could only get in with a Diamond or Seven Stars card, which you would feed into a machine that would validate it. I was shocked how many Diamond and Seven Star members there were, even on a Wednesday night. For those of you wondering why I didn't valet the car, I hate using valets for personal reasons, even when it's not my own car.


    A Day in Detroit

    I found a great website with a suggested Detroit self-driving tour: http://onedayindetroit.com/tours/5

    I followed this tour to the letter, and it was really fascinating. At no time did I feel unsafe.

    Here is the old train station, abandoned since 1986:




    Here is one of many dilapidated houses in a mostly (but not completely) abandoned neighborhood:




    Here is the old Packard Automotive Plant, closed in 1958!



    If you're not from the area, I really suggest doing this driving tour!

    Later that day, we went to Belle Isle Island, a big island park accessible by an easy bridge. We only got to see part of it, because there was a NASCAR race there coming up, and they were preparing for it. It was interesting and somewhat scenic, though it was crawling with police trying to ticket people.

    Continued next post...
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  2. #2
    Back to Windsor

    We drove back to Windsor in the evening. Border crossed for (thankfully) the last time -- the third time we had to in 24 hours!

    We once again ordered from Nero's for room service. I politely asked them to make sure that our food wasn't cold this time, and they did a lot better. By the time the meal was over, most of my $500 had been spent.

    I decided that I wanted to see the casino, so I took the long walk across the bridge to the casino.

    The casino was pretty big. It was multiple rooms, and spread across multiple floors. They have a guard checking IDs of anyone who looks like they might be under 19. I didn't get asked for my ID, obviously.

    Even the gift shop is located off the casino floor. I spent a little of my $500 there, and saved the rest for our lunch prior to departing the next day.

    The video poker is surprisingly sparse and bad! Almost all of the machines in Caesar's Windsor are slot machines. Video poker just isn't popular there, apparently. The pay tables were TERRIBLE. For example, the BEST JoB machine I found there was 7/5, of ANY denomination. Shameful. The DDB machines were no better.

    They did have a 99.95% return variant called "Pick 'Em Poker", but it is so different that I don't even consider it video poker. Here is an explanation of the game: http://wizardofodds.com/games/video-...pick-em-poker/

    You also only get 1 tier credit for $80 per coin-in at Pick 'Em Poker, which is awful.

    Needless to say, I didn't play there.

    They do have preferred currency exchange rates for Seven Stars members. At the time, the actual rate of exchange was $1.09 Canadian for $1 US, but you can't get that anywhere for cash.

    The casino was exchanging it for $1.06, but $1.08 for Seven Stars. The $1.08 rate was the best I could get anywhere, so I took advantage of it to buy a few hundred bucks of Canadian money for the rest of my trip. Of course, being a Caesar's property, there was more fail involved. In this case, despite the fact that I was verified Seven Stars, it didn't automatically give me the $1.08 rate like it was supposed to. Nobody could figure out how to do it, and finally a host just told them to go ahead and do it anyway. It's possible I was excluded from this based upon my (lack of) play in 2014, but from what everyone understood (including me), the $1.08 rate was for Seven Stars regardless of their play. So it was probably just a screw-up in the system.

    Here are some photos of the casino:





    The hotel is fairly nice. Not quite as nice as Caesar's in Vegas, but better than Caesar's AC, in my opinion.

    I would put it about equivalent to Harrah's New Orleans, although different.

    Here is a picture of the hallway of our floor:




    Here is a picture of the view you would have if you stayed in the "adult" tower:




    Right in front of the hotel is a nice river walk, where you have a great view of the Detroit skyline across the river:




    On the last day, we had lunch at the middle eastern place, which was pretty good. We got in the car and headed for Niagara Falls.

    Overall, I liked the hotel, but the casino lacked big time in video poker, and really most of the place was slots. There were some table games, but I didn't look at them too carefully.

    This is NOT a good place to go with kids, for reasons already specified!

    However, if you would like to see the Detroit and/or Niagara Falls/Toronto areas, this is a decent place to use for your Seven Stars trip, especially if you've gone to the other properties and are looking for something new.
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  3. #3
    Dan:

    The 99.95% full-pay Pick 'Em is a great game. Very low variance (around 15, while 9/6 Jacks has a variance of 19).

    I loved playing that game often in years past, but sadly it's almost an extinct species in most parts of the USA now.

    I feel you missed an opportunity passing up that game if you wanted some tier credits, but since you were with family you obviously didn't have much time to play anything.

    You might want to remember it for next time, though. Is it available at higher denoms? ($5+)

    EDIT: I would actually go so far as to say that playing the $5 Full Pay pick-em ($25 per hand) would give you milder bankroll swings than the 10/6 DDB $1 triple play at the Rio. Pick' Em has much smoother bankroll ups and downs than most VP games.

    SECOND EDIT: After some more thought, you could probably earn your Seven Stars again at a much lower risk to bankroll through the Full Pay PKM, but at $80 per tier credit it would require several hundred hours of play even at the $5 level. If you can stomach the $25 level you could get there much faster, though....
    Last edited by Count Room; 06-11-2014 at 10:56 PM.

  4. #4
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    Dan,

    I was born in Detroit but grew up in the Northern suburbs. It was very sad to see what happened to the city over the years. Detroit was actually a very nice city at one time. I think they have tried to bring it back (new Comerica park where the Tigers play baseball, Greektown, MGM GRAND and The Motor City Casino) but unfortunately the failing economy hit the city really hard. When I was going to college in Kalamazoo I actually took the AMTRAK train to that station several times.

    Before Caesars bought the casino in Windsor it was just called "Casino Windsor." Back in the 90's Windsor started out with 2 casinos. One was in a warehouse closer to the Blue Water Bridge and the other was a boat on the river. When they built Casino Windsor they closed the Warehouse and the boat.

    I wish I had known you were going there. I could have recommended a great rib place a block from the tunnel.

  5. #5
    Dan,

    I was at Ceasars Windsor last October. I was there for a class reunion in a nearby school. I agree with you that the Customs/Immigration line between US and Canada (both the tunnel or the Ambassador Bridge) was way too long. I remember 25 years ago, when I was a student, it took no longer than the time to pay toll to cross.

    I ate at Nero's Steakhouse and used my $100 Diamond Celebration voucher. The food and atmosphere was good. What blew my mind was that at the bottom floor of the two-level casino there was a soda fountain and coffee machine, which was free for any patron. I loved helping myself instead of hunting for a waitress who I then had to tip.

    As to Video Poker, I agree it was a bit limited but there were OK options. I played 9-6 Double Bonus and hit 4 Aces at CDN$2. Attached is the photo. I loved the fact that I hit it for $1600 but did not need to get a W-2 G, wait for a handpay or tip an attendant. In Canada there is no tax on gambling income.

    Also at the High Limit area, there was 8-6 Jacks or Better, attached is a photo of a diamond flush I hit and you can see the schedule.

    I was not Seven Stars back then so I did not have the advantage of a favorable exchange rate and so I lost some of my profits changing US to CDN and back. I did check out with a $1000 profit largely due to my one Quad AAAA hit.

    It was a bit awkward being questioned by the border agents why I lived in California but was crossing the Detroit-Windsor border by car. One asked me why I was staying in Windsor when I was visiting friends in Michigan. When I answered that the room at Ceasars was comped, I then had to explain the comping system. His response was a snarky "Well then you must be a big gambler."

    Another agent wanted to know how much money I had and how much I won or lost at the casino. There may have been legitimate reasons for questions, but every time I travel by plane overseas the border agents only ask whether I had more than $10,000 on me, but not how much I actually have.

    The Ceasars Windsor Casino is practically walking distance from the border, are these guys really ignorant of how casino gambling and tourism works or was there something else going on?
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  6. #6
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    I remember when I lived there and they were just starting to talk about allowing casinos to come into Detroit. They said that they figured over a million dollars was floating across the Detroit River into Canada every weekend.

  7. #7
    Tunnel Bar B Que is now closed. Nash, if that is the one you wanted to recommend.

    I, too, am fascinated by the ruins. I grew up there. Flying there tonight actually.

    My friend is taking me to the Crab Leg Buffet at MGM and hopefully, on to Caesar's Windsor. I think she hates messing with the crossing.

    Ben Affleck was just asked to leave Caesar's Windsor, someone posted the article in another forum.


    Dan, enjoyed reading your trip report.

  8. #8
    FAB, where did you find these machines? Not that 9-6 DDB or 8-6 JoB is much to write home about, but I couldn't find these when I attempted to search for them.

    When did you take those pics? Is it possible those machines are gone? vpfree2 doesn't list them, either.

    I didn't want to talk about gambling or comps when I crossed the border. I know of a guy who got detained for hours at the Canadian border (Vancouver area), due to identifying himself as a professional poker player.

    Crossing into Windsor was easy because we had a good "story". We were visiting Windsor, Niagara Falls, and Toronto as tourists. The fact that a 3-year-old was in the back seat made that look even more legit (and of course, it was the truth). I had to tell them where I was staying in all 3 places, but we got through without much further questioning.

    Going back into Detroit was tougher. I had to explain that we were from the US, staying in Canada (Windsor), and going into the US just for the day. The border patrol agent didn't understand. "Who sightsees in Detroit?", he asked.

    I didn't want to admit that we were going there to see the dilapidated neighborhoods, because I was worried that he wasn't going to like those plans, and they'd object to what is essentially disaster tourism. Not that it's the border patrol's business, but I just didn't want to say that's why we were going into Detroit for the day. Instead, I said we were going to Belle Isle island and just wanted to see downtown Detroit. He accepted that, and let us go through.
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  9. #9
    With all your detailed prep, it's amazing that you didn't know about the Canadian age policy at Caesars Windsor. When a goal is to take complete advantage of a situation, you do not ever rely on hosts to be the end-all in information. I always leave room service a 15% tip.

    We did the visit on a drive around the country in 2010 when I went to every Harrahs property, put in less than 5 minutes play at each, and left with at least $1 profit at each. I was just barely Diamond and every room was comped, including at that adults tower in Windsor. We chose to do the Canadiens Club(?) distillery tour instead of Detroit. Seeing a once great American city in collapse due to democrats and corruption, was not high on the thrill list.

    BTW, never been to Comerica Park, but my dad took me to a world series game at Tiger Stadium in 1968. It was a scary place then.

  10. #10
    Blue state / blue city.... enough said. Maybe Scott Walker's success in Wisconsin will rub off on Michigan. I wouldnt hold my breath....

  11. #11
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    SlotPlayer,

    Yes, it was Tunnnel BBQ. Awe, I'm sad. Didn't know it closed. My parents used to take us there when we were kids. I have family in Windsor.
    Where did you grow up?

  12. #12
    Dan,

    I was in Windsor late October 2013. I do not know if those Video Poker machines are still there. The 9-6 DDB was near the pick em game. The 8-6 Jacks or Better were at the high limit slots. I recall that VP Free had referenced the 9-6 DDB but there was no mention of the 8-6 Jacks. That's why I took a photo of the Jacks machine. Normally I do not take a photo of a flush.

  13. #13
    Originally Posted by SlotPlayer View Post
    Tunnel Bar B Que is now closed. Nash, if that is the one you wanted to recommend.

    I, too, am fascinated by the ruins. I grew up there. Flying there tonight actually.

    My friend is taking me to the Crab Leg Buffet at MGM and hopefully, on to Caesar's Windsor. I think she hates messing with the crossing.

    Ben Affleck was just asked to leave Caesar's Windsor, someone posted the article in another forum.


    Dan, enjoyed reading your trip report.
    I was at Tunnel BBQ last Saturday night. They will be closing in September due to health issues with the owner. So far, there is no word if anyone will purchase the place and continue with this long-standing location (since 1941).

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by Vegas Vic View Post
    I was at Tunnel BBQ last Saturday night. They will be closing in September due to health issues with the owner. So far, there is no word if anyone will purchase the place and continue with this long-standing location (since 1941).
    Thank you for the correction. We drove by there on Wednesday night and I saw it was still open, for now.

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Nash View Post
    SlotPlayer,

    Yes, it was Tunnnel BBQ. Awe, I'm sad. Didn't know it closed. My parents used to take us there when we were kids. I have family in Windsor.
    Where did you grow up?
    I grew up in Detroit 48021 and also Southfield now in L.A. visiting The D at the moment

  16. #16
    Originally Posted by SlotPlayer View Post
    I grew up in Detroit 48021 and also Southfield now in L.A. visiting The D at the moment
    Just wanted to add this link for more info regarding closing of Tunnel BBQ.

    http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2014/05...sor-expansion/

    FYI. We didnt get questioned too much while crossing the border. As a passenger i wasnt asked anything.

    My friend didn't want to get a CET card so we both used mine and i was able to earn some bonus tier credits! Struggling to make Platinum this year.

  17. #17
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    Originally Posted by SlotPlayer View Post
    I grew up in Detroit 48021 and also Southfield now in L.A. visiting The D at the moment
    Small world. I graduated from SHS 1975.

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