It’s no surprise that Aussies love to gamble. According to a recent government report, over 80% of Australians engage in some form of gambling and over a quarter (roughly 7 million) are said to gamble regularly.
While Australia offers up casinos in each of its states and territories, there are even bigger gambling destinations right on our doorstep which offer up some of the world’s grandest casinos.
From Southeast Asia to the South Pacific, and even our close neighbor New Zealand, there are some great international gambling destinations to consider that I’d be willing to bet any Aussie who loves placing a wager would enjoy.
Australia offers up a number of great casinos, especially in each of its capital cities (like Casino Canberra). You then have slot machines, or pokies as we call them, seemingly in every other pub and club. However, if there’s one thing Aussies love to do more than gambling, it’s travel.
Many choose to combine the two and head off on a casino tourism holiday. While Vegas, Canada, and Monaco may be some of the big craw cards, there are many closer options for those Australians looking to stay a little nearer to home.
7 Great Gambling Destinations Close to Australia
Many people regard Macau as the “Monte Carlo of the East”, but I’d say it more resembles an “Asian Vegas”. After all, much like Vegas, it has its own Venetian Casino and the Pharaoh’s Palace Casino which gives off a Luxor vibe.
Macau is home to many of the world’s largest casinos, the Venetian Macau being its grandest. Macau as a gambling destination is quite surprising given that it’s a special administrative region of China and China itself outlaws most forms of gambling and casinos.
Getting back to the Venetian Macau, its enormous gaming floor space is split up into four zones, offering up well over 3,400 of the world’s most popular slot games. It is said that upwards of 80,000 people or more visit the casino daily.
All up, Macau offers visitors over three dozen casinos including Wynn Palace, The Londoner Macao, The Parisian Macao, Grand Lisboa, MGM Grand Macau, and the City of Dreams with its famous House of Dancing Water show which has currently been put on hold due to the pandemic but is set to be re-imagined when world travel resumes.
Macau offers up 24 hours of entertainment, with many of its restaurants and businesses never closing. You can even gamble with your life by braving one of the world’s highest commercial bungee jumps at the Macau Tower.
Just a short hour or so ferry ride from Macau is Hong Kong, another surprisingly decent gambling destination given that laws limit many forms of gambling.
Land-based casinos are non-existent, however, there are a number of great cruise casinos that depart from Hong Kong which bypass the strict gambling regulations by sailing offshore into international waters.
These cruise casinos include so-called overnight “voyages to nowhere” as well as ships that sail to cities like Bangkok as the giant Silversea Shadow cruise ship does.
Despite its offering of cruise casinos, it still seems to be all about betting on horses in Hong Kong. The Mark Six Lottery is also popular, which consists of selecting 6 numbers ranging from 1-49 which get drawn from a ball lottery machine much like other popular draw-lotteries in Australia and around the world.
Singapore may only have a few casinos, but both Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa are extremely popular with visitors from all around the world. Both these casinos are rather young, having been built roughly just ten years ago.
Marina Bay Sands of course is also one of Singapore’s most recognizable landmarks, offering up the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool alongside award-winning dining, shopping, and entertainment. Meanwhile, Resorts World Sentosa is linked with Universal Studios and the Adventure Cove Water Park.
Marina Bay Sands casino is Singapore’s largest but has been forced to temporarily close several times due to the pandemic and undergo intensive cleaning after staff tested positive. A third casino option in Singapore is the Aegean Paradise Cruise Casino for those looking to place bets offshore.
The Singapore Pools lottery system facilitates the various local draw-lotteries as well as betting on football, motorsports, and horse racing. Interestingly, Singaporean residents are forced to pay a special and rather hefty entrance fee to enter and gamble at local casinos, something that is waived for Aussies and other international travelers.
According to World Casino Directory, there are a number of great hotel casinos as well as gaming lounges/clubs in cities like Ho Chi Minh and Vũng Tàu.
Vietnamese casinos operate despite gambling being strictly outlawed for the country’s residents. Vietnam’s casinos, therefore, only cater to foreign visitors and only accept US dollars.
Interestingly, laws don’t allow live dealers to run table games, therefore, they offer electronic versions of roulette, Black Jack, and other games.
The two main hubs for gambling can be found in Ho Chi Minh and Vũng Tàu which can be reached by a 3-hour bus ride or hour and a half ferry run by Greenlines DP. In Ho Chi Minh, you’ll find the Plazzo Club Casino, Club Royale, and Club Vegas which is one of Vietnam’s first casinos.
Vũng Tàu may have fewer casinos than Ho Chi Minh, but its Grand- Ho Tram is the largest and offers an international links layout golf course designed by Australia’s very own golfing legend Greg Norman. Meanwhile, Caesar Palace Casino can be found in the Palace Hotel which is one of the finest 4-star hotels in Vietnam.
Philippines gambling mainly revolves around Manila, with nearly two dozen casinos on offer through luxury casino hotels and integrated resorts.
City of Dreams sits on the Entertainment City gaming strip and is the sister resort of Macau’s City of Dreams. The luxury integrated resort features half a dozen hotels including a Hyatt Regency, along with endless shopping at its Shops at The Boulevard, a theme park, and loads of restaurants in The Garage.
The golden-colored Okada Manila Resort is known for having one of the world’s largest multicolor dancing fountains along with featuring a lovely garden area and indoor beach club/nightclub.
Okada also offers a full-service spa and wellness center much like the Solaire Resort and Casino, but lacks Solaire’s indoor shooting range.
Sadly, cockfighting and Sabong betting which is banned in Australia and many countries around the world still exists in the Philippines as it is considered a popular national tradition. There are thousands of cockpits across the country. I highly recommended you stay clear of attending these events so as to not further encourage the ongoing animal cruelty.
Both the North and South Island of New Zealand offer up casinos for visiting gamblers. Thanks to the current travel bubble with New Zealand, our neighbor across the Tasman may be the only international gambling destination available for the foreseeable future and even that bubble is continually off and on.
Much like Australia, pokies can be found in many of New Zealand’s hotels and bars. There are also six (or if you prefer in a Kiwi accent “sux”) casinos operating in New Zealand. Worth noting is the minimum legal age to enter a casino in New Zealand is 20 unlike 18 in Australia.
One of the most notable casinos is SkyCity Auckland, the only casino in the city. You’ll find it at the base of the famous Sky Tower and it features special VIP rooms for high stakes gamblers, an e-sports broadcasting studio, 700-seat theatre, two dozen restaurants and bars, and the lavish 5-star Grand by SkyCity hotel.
You’ll also find a SkyCity in Queenstown, while further northeast on the South Island is Christchurch Casino which was the country’s first to open and continues to host the New Zealand Poker Championships.
Dunedin also offers a lovely casino overlooking the wharf which presents a more opulent feel reminiscent of the casinos found in Monaco.
Vanuatu & Solomon Islands
I know I said I’d only bring you 7 great gambling destinations close to Australia but how about I combine two great nations for the price of one since they are so close together. Both Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands offer up gambling opportunities in the South Pacific.
Starting in Vanuatu, the nation’s capital Port Vila offers up two casinos including the Palms Casino which offers up a nice range of Aussie rules table games. You’ll find the casino housed in the Le Meridien Hotel.
Despite its small size, Solomon Islands also offers up a casino on its largest island of Guadalcanal. Conveniently located just 5 kilometers from Honiara International Airport, the Pacific Casino Hotel with its lovely ocean views presents baccarat, poker, roulette, Black Jack, and more.
I hope my list of nearby international gambling destinations gives you a bit of inspiration for when Australia’s travel restrictions begin to ease.
It’s a safe bet to say it may be sometime in 2022 when international travel begins to get back on track, so until then you can check out my recommendations for the best casinos within Australia.
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