MYPALACASINO / Pala Interactive LLC / Facebook

Pala Casino is a little casino-resort on Native American land in the San Diego area, which you'd probably never have heard of (unless you're a SoCal-based degenerate gambler) except for a couple of things. One is that, in an attempt to expand into the small legalized slice of American online gambling, they partnered with the Borgata in Atlantic City to run a real money online casino in New Jersey. The other is this new play money Facebook game / mobile app, which is similar to MGM's MyVEGAS in that your "just for fun" play racks up rewards points that can be cashed in for real stuff at the actual property.

This doesn't appear to have quite the same game selection or interface that the actual New Jersey online casino does, but it's not too far off the mark. It's also pretty clearly taking its cues from MyVEGAS – extremely similar daily spin for free chips, bonus system based on friends who play the game, rewards points system, etc.

MyPala actually has some things going that MyVEGAS doesn't, however. First of all, it just plain has a wider range of game types. With MyVEGAS you only get slots and blackjack. MyPala has much of the gamut of the typical casino floor in addition to these – video poker, roulette, craps, keno, virtual racing, even table poker (if you can catch enough people online to actually fill a table).

One catch, though – some games have to be unlocked by gaining XP from your wagers, in a system similar to MyVEGAS where each new level gets you a small bonus of chips and rewards points. For example, you don't get access to roulette until level 22 and craps until level 27. And you start out with only Jacks or Better for video poker, the five other variants are gradually unlocked on the way to level 38. Of course, there's a constant drip-feed of new unlocked slots as well, usually a new one for every level.

Building a bankroll is definitely more of a challenge than it is in MyVEGAS, at least without paying for chips. You'll get a 10,000 chip "welcome bonus" but from there the game is very nitty with free chips. Your daily spin with the giraffe-esque Kim only nets you between 1500 and 5000 chips (pre-multipliers), plus 500 on a free check-in every 60 minutes. Sounds OK until you learn the minimum bet on a bunch of the slots is 4000 a pull! The absolute lowest bet at most games tends to be 500, with the best deal for early play with your limited bankroll being blackjack at the minimum bet of 100 per hand.

There are lots of daily slot tournaments with a 1000 chip buy-in which are easy to win by default due to lack of other players, but prizes are skimpy and you don't get rewards points. They hold 5k tournaments with free entries once per weekday and throughout the day on weekends, those might be a little more worthwhile.

The interface is a mixed bag. It's much smoother than MyVEGAS and doesn't suffer from the load times of that and Caesars Casino, but there are some little bits of jank here and there like offset images, and of course it isn't as pretty. I'll happily trade pretty for loading speed, but there are also a couple of functions here and there that don't work right too, like the "return to lobby" button in a number of games doesn't work and forces you to manually refresh your browser to get out of it.

MyPalaCasino has some definite promise, especially if you can make it to San Diego to cash in the rewards. It's tough to build a bankroll and rewards thresholds are high (like 99,000 rewards points for a free hotel night), though, so don't expect too much out of it right out now. The interface needs a little tweaking too, but right at the moment the biggest issue just seems to be that it's a ghost town.

Links :

* MyPalaCasino official website

Videos :

* Video tour of MyPalaCasino