Steak, dollars and men with guns (somewhere probably); we have a Las Vegas-lite experience at a U.S. military casino in Okinawa.

Many of us will have, at one point or another, dreamed of winning a fortune at a casino, possibly while sipping on a shaken, not stirred, martini with a provocatively named femme fatale on one arm. While Las Vegas and Macau might be the gambling capitals of the world, they’re a bit far for us to go, and we’d have to win big just to get there in the first place. Japan isn’t an option either, at least until discussions about casino guidelines reach and then pass through the Diet, something which doesn’t seem likely to happen soon. It turns out though, there is a place within the country where it’s possible to try and win the jackpot, a casino in a golf club belonging to the U.S. military in Okinawa.

Ignoring any moral questions of gambling or the rights or wrongs of unpopular military bases in Okinawa, our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma packed up his suitcase and jumped on a flight, eager to claim his winnings. The drive from Naha Airport took about forty minutes, plenty of time to decide on a strategy to hoodwink the croupiers and plan how to spend all the cash our reporter would soon be swimming in. Then he finally arrived at the golf club, and headed to the club house.

Pulling up to the rather fancy looking club house at the Taiyo Golf Club, our reporter felt as though he could have been in Las Vegas, but without the neon lights or the famous landmarks. A quick look around though convinced him he wasn’t in Kansas, or Japan, anymore. Without having to show his passport, he’d managed to slip into another country, or so it seemed.

▼ For example, the English writing everywhere, and the plaque announcing the golf club’s link to the U.S. military on the island.

Whether for cash-strapped golfers or for those heading upstairs to the steakhouse and casino, somebody had the foresight to put a cash machine outside the building. Just as well, as our reporter was only carrying his Japanese currency, where the casino only accepts U.S. dollars. Knowing that you have to speculate to accumulate, and with reckless abandon, our reporter stuck his card and PIN in, and was rewarded with a full fifty American dollars. Hopefully the machines inside would be equally forthcoming.

The downstairs area was full of lounging golfers, but holding no truck with a good walk spoilt, our reporter climbed the stairs towards his date with destiny. But first, perhaps a tipple in the Taiyo Bar. Maybe the bar would be full of lucky winners spilling their cash and offering advice to the gambling novice, but no. It was dead.

Planning what colour Ferrari to buy, or what colour velvet to line the seats of your new home cinema with, can make a chap hungry, and so instead of a glass of liquid courage our reporter decided to try out the Taiyo Steakhouse next door before his appointed dance with Lady Luck. Getting into the American vibe, our reporter ordered a New York Steak, done medium rare, for 25 U.S. dollars (2,677 yen).

▼ It wouldn’t be a casino without a stake and chips.

According to our reporter, the steak was amazingly delicious, although he now only had 25 dollars left to take the house for all they were worth. Undaunted, he went to exchange his money for a chance at glory, and a prepaid card.

▼ Gamblers can change Japanese money for American at the venue but as it’s a cashless casino they then have to buy special prepaid cards like the one below.

The cards require a deposit of one dollar, which left our reporter with 19 dollars on his card with which to win it big. He felt so confident he’d already written a heap of abusive messages to those who had slighted him over the years. All that was left to do was to hit the slots, rake in the cash, and press send…

▼ So….

Sometime later (actually about a minute later) our reporter emerged, empty-pocketed and unsure of exactly what had just happened. While he still considered himself a winner for having tried the whole gambling thing and getting a first-class steak to boot, maybe he’d be better off sticking to Japanese military bases like Mr. Sato, seeing as everyone’s a winner with a bento ration box.

Location information
Taiyo Golf Club & Steakhouse
Address: Okinawa-ken, Uruma-shi, Enobi 1183
沖縄県うるま市1183 Enobi
Open 7 a.m.-1 a.m. (Game room)/ 1:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. (Taiyo Bar)
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (Taiyo Bar); Game room open year round.

Photos: ©SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]