The World’s Most Popular Destinations for Gambling Tourism

The World’s Most Popular Destinations for Gambling Tourism Have you ever heard of the term gambling tourism? It refers to the symbiosis of the travel and gambling sectors. Gambling tourism is made of people who visit places specifically to gamble as well as the industries which support those players. This can also refer to players who visit locations other than their home country to gamble because they are restricted from gambling in their home country.

This should not come as a surprise given that even online bookmakers, which are reviewed at, restrict certain locations, regions, and countries for sports betting, casino games, and many more types of gambling entertainment.

’Capitals’ of Gambling

In the segment of gambling tourism, there are world gambling ’capitals’, i.e. cities in which there is, to put it simply, a paradise for those whose primary thing on travel is wagering.

London, Lisbon, Las Vegas, Moscow, Macao, Monte Carlo, Atlantic City – although at first glance it seems that these seven cities have nothing in common, good connoisseurs and fans of ’games of chance’ claim that these are their ’Mecca and Medina’. These cities have the most famous and most beautiful casinos and bookmakers in the world.

Gambling tourism is most developed in Las Vegas in the United States and Macao, which is a highly autonomous special administrative region of China. And so it has been since about 2002, when these two cities competed and gave away each other the leading position, until today.

Both cities suffered a lot from the coronavirus pandemic and from measures introduced to reduce the spread of it so we will base on what the things were prior to the appearance of Covid-19.

Las Vegas

When Las Vegas is mentioned, one has the impression that everything has already been told and written about it. The main driver of the Las Vegas economy is a combination of tourism, gambling, and holding various conventions and events from which restaurants and retail profit. It is also the headquarters of companies engaged in the production of electronic gambling machines.

To illustrate: According to the data of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the net income of casinos in the most famous Las Vegas Strip area was $1.06 billion in September 2019.

Advertising Has Borne Fruit

Additionally, this city was so much ’advertised’ given how many movies have been made about it. ’Casino’ by Martin Scorsese, the romantic drama ’Leaving Las Vegas’ with Nicolas Cage, ’21’ with Kevin Spacey or ’What Happens in Vegas’ starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, are just some of the many American blockbusters that spread the fame of this place across the globe.

However, according to the latest economic data, it turns out that all that is not enough. Even gambling machines set up all over the airport or those mounted right next to the boarding terminals, pure oxygen that is injected into casinos with special technology to keep players awake for as long as possible, with the already standard glow, glamour, luxury, and Hollywood stars are not enough to always keep Las Vegas on the pedestal of the capital of gambling tourism. From time to time, in the number of visits and earnings, Macao overtakes it. So is now.


History says that Macao, in the absence of agricultural land, forests, or any other natural resources, turned to gamble and the ’gambling industry’ in general. As early as 1962, local authorities regulated this industry by law and granted the first casino licenses to local companies. And the business started.

The turning point in ’gambling circles’ for Macao happened when the local government issued six new licenses for casinos/bookmakers to foreign investors, which practically opened the door to the giants of the gambling industry from Las Vegas. Almost overnight, new attractive and large casino and hotel complexes sprang up, including Sands and Wynn.

Overcoming the Crisis

According to available data before the pandemic, Macao was visited by about 35.8 million tourists a year, and about $45 billion are spent there. In the past, its most frequent guests were rich people from Hong Kong, as well as the Chinese themselves. However, today, gambling enthusiasts from all over the world come to the ex-Portuguese colony, as well.

Macao had the biggest crisis in 2015 when the Chinese government started an anti-corruption campaign, so the income from gambling dropped drastically – by 34.3 % – to $28.9 billion, which is almost $15 billion less than in the two years before that.


Comparing Las Vegas and Macao, the data show that geography and the neighborhood have taken precedence over promotion and advertising.

Namely, Macao returned under the auspices of China in 1999 as part of the ’one country, two systems’ political arrangement. And so it turned out that it became the only place in China where gambling is legal.

A monopoly in a country with billions of inhabitants