As far as travel trends go, gambling has become a hugely popular pastime for tourists in recent years, regardless of which country or city they’re visiting.
From the dazzling lights of Vegas, to playing poker with celebs in Macau, the business of betting has really taken off, and a global movement of casino tourists have seen land based casinos emerge as massive tourism hotspots.
Land based casinos these days offer much more than a dark, seedy place to gamble – often luxurious resorts and dazzling entertainment complexes, which have seen whole cities spring up around them.
Whether you’re looking for an exclusive casino experience, or one where you can gamble with the locals, the following are the world’s top gambling cities – just remember to gamble responsibly (and stay on top of those currency conversions!).
Casino Tourism: The World’s Top 5 Gambling Cities!
#5 San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rica isn’t typically on the forefront of people’s minds when you consider casino tourism, though with 40 different venues throughout the country, and 18 alone in San Jose, the city is highly underrated.
The casino scene in Costa Rica is quite understated – casinos here will have around six tables, and 50 odd slots, and be a lot more laid back than you might be used to in big gambling cities like Vegas. But it offers a relaxed atmosphere for play.
You’ll find all the typical slots and games you’re used to, though there are also many native games, and one of the most popular is 21, also known as Rummy (a blackjack variation where the goal is to reach 21).
The big draw to Costa Rica is that the exchange rate is quite convenient for many currencies. So if you’re looking for a place not only to gamble but also to get some bang for your buck while appreciating tropical views, this Central American city is your kind of party!
Popular casinos in San Jose you should check out include the Barceló San José Palacio Spa & Casino, the Best Western Irazu and the Hotel Presidente. There’s also the Balmoral Hotel, the Casino Club Colonial, and the Gran Hotel Costa Rica.
#4 Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
It may have been hit hard by the recession and it may not be quite the gambling hotbed for tourists it once was, but for those who live in the northeastern US, there is still no better place to gamble than along Atlantic City’s boardwalk.
With direct access to the beach, Resorts Casino Hotel is arguably best casino hotel in Atlantic City. Located right on the boardwalk, this was the first casino to open in Atlantic City (1978), and now, in addition to 80,000 feet of casino gaming space, is also a stunning luxury hotel.
In fact, most of the casinos in Atlantic City are casino resorts / hotels, set along the boardwalk for access to the beach. Other casino hotels worth mentioning include the Tropicana Casino and Resort, Harrah’s, Ocean Casino Resort, and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
#3 Macau, China
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 a city called Macau.
Macau is home to the three biggest casinos in Asia (along with many more), and is emerging as a series contender for the title of gambling capitol of the world; so much so that they call it the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’, and ‘Monte Carlo of the Orient’.
Macau 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.
Steeped in authentic colonial history, Portuguese and Chinese are the two main official languages, although English is also fluently spoken due to the proximity of Hong Kong, being just an hour trip across the Delta by boat.
#2 Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monaco is one of the most famous places for gambling in the world and for good reason, as it’s one of the wealthiest places in Europe. It has become a gambling mecca, and a playground for the internationally rich and famous.
This casino was launched in 1863 and it’s popular for many reasons; its elegance, style, history, and being the inspiration and filming location for many James Bond films, as well as Ocean’s Twelve. It has 108000 sq. ft. of gambling areas, around many table games and 300 slot machines.
If you can’t afford to actually gamble here, a €10 entry fee will see you plunge into a 19th century themed casino hall with regularly hosted events, including the annual Poker Stars Championships that tends to attract industry celebrities.
Image: Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
#1 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Although Nevada’s Reno has a solid reputation for gambling itself, there’s no experience quite like Sin City when it comes to casino tourism. In fact, Las Vegas’ reputation as a gambling hub is exactly what earned its infamous nickname.
As a travel destination, Vegas has become famous for its ability to change your life in an instant; people flock here from all over the world to try their luck at becoming overnight millionaires, and live it up in luxurious penthouses, rubbing shoulders with celebs.
The Vegas Strip is where you’ll find many of the world’s top casinos, offering an endless array of slot machines, craps, baccarat, roulette, blackjack, and poker along the 4 mile road.
Popular favorites include the Venetian & The Palazzo, Caesars Palace, The Bellagio, The Mirage, and the Aria.