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Reports into modern travel trends have recently suggested that one form of tourism is booming well above the rest.

There are many markets within travel experiencing growth; solo female travel is increasingly popular, and responsible travel is going viral. But there’s one particular form of tourism that every country is trying to cash in on: casino tourism.

The world’s obsession with gambling dates back centuries to Mesopotamia (historically Western Asia), where the earliest six-sided dice was invented in 3000 BC.

Since then, there has been dicing in the streets of Ancient Greece and Rome, card games having been invented in China, Baccarat in France, and we have Italy to thank for the creation of the world’s first gambling houses – the first form of casino.

Gambling has continually fallen in and out of favor with countries throughout the ages, though as one of the biggest modern industries across the globe, it’s now very much legal throughout most of the world.

And it has become the most popular tourism sector.

Casino Tourism Becomes Travel’s Most Popular Sector

The Macau Case Study

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Casino tourism has become such a dominate and popular part of the industry, that whole destinations have popped up with the sole purpose of being a casino city, and boosting their national economy through the profits.

Macau and Las Vegas are the most prominent.

Gambling was actually first invented in Western Asia, so it stands to reason that China has a strong gambling culture. And the epicenter of it all is Macau; the ‘Vegas’ of Asia … or does Vegas channel inspiration from Macau?!

China’s territory region has become a home of the biggest gambling hubs across the world. In 2010, Macau overtook Las Vegas in terms of revenue. That’s how big they are!

The city boasts 33 casinos which contribute up to 50 percent of the economy. And of those 33, six are ranked among the 20 largest in the whole world, with The Venetian Macau being the second biggest casino in the world, and City of Dreams Macau taking out the place for #3.

Macau followed Vegas’s trend by focusing its efforts on offering gamblers spending massive amounts with VIP services such as exciting amenities, golden member privileges, and private gaming rooms. And because of this, they attract a lot of wealthy tourists.

Australia Jumping In

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Although the Macau Casinos have maintained their reputation, there’s still plenty of casino tourism to go around, and Australia has most notably jumped in for a piece of this sector.

It’s estimated that around 1,000,000 Chinese gamblers travel to Australia for casino tourism annually – casinos in Australia are actually starting to supersede numbers in Macau and Vegas, with over 10 million tourists in recent years.

As Australia’s most popular casino, Crown Casino Melbourne alone pulls 10.9 million visitors annually, and a big reason for this is that Australian casinos allow for much more than gambling – they’re often full blown entertainment complexes.

Most Casinos have become known as an attraction in their own right, for being home to a range of trendy restaurants, nightclubs and bars, well as theaters, hotels, and resort amenities like water parks and swimming pools.

So it’s no surprise, with this in mind, that casinos have become to intricately tied to the tourism fabric, when many of them double as fully integrated resorts, with some of the best and most luxurious hotel suites in the country!

And, unlike other countries around the world, you do not need to pay tax on your gambling wins in Australia, whether you’re gambling in person, or playing online.

Australian gambling tax is paid by the casino.

The Impact on Local Economies

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Casinos are controversial in any community, and always have been – as we said earlier, gambling of all forms has fallen in and out of favor throughout the centuries, depending on ruler / country.

However if comprehensive approaches to social services can be developed, and positive steps taken to foster a community driven responsible gambling culture, the economic opportunity casino tourism can bring is enormous.

With top end casinos attracting millions of tourists every year, this naturally leads to a a huge range of sustainable jobs, from working on the floor, to in the hotels, restaurants and entertainment complexes which pop up around them.

Though tourist attractions around the area also flourish – travelers may come for the casino, though they don’t spend 24 hours, 7 days a week solely gambling. They’re likely to get out for some air at some point, and take in some attractions.

Casino tourism also promotes diversity, not only from the perspective of the community seeing foreign visitors as a positive influence on their financial stability (and therefore breaking any previously held negative stereotypes or perceptions), but also through attracting overseas workers.

For instance, in Australia, the increase in the number of Chinese high rollers in their casinos has led to an increase in dealers who can speak mandarin. Some casinos will employ staff who are conversant with mandarin or use those from mandarin speaking nations.

Always a Balancing Act

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It’s a fact that the casino industry impacts the tourism sector in a big way. Note that problems will arise if any economy relies too much on gambling to attract tourists, so this is always going to be a balancing act for countries who think this way.

Because of this, most nations are diversifying areas of tourist attractions and positioning them near casinos. This gives foreign gamblers more reason to explore, and it spreads the wealth more sustainably throughout the region.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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