Choosing where to go on holiday isn’t as easy as it used to be. Instead of the sunny beach that drums up images of relaxation, we’re subject to a cacophony of city breaks, adventure weekends, jungle treks and conservation holidays that all sound amazing, but are hard to choose between.
One of these types of alternative vacations is the casino holiday. Although visiting a casino on holiday isn’t a new concept, and although Vegas has been drawing Americans to the desert for years, the dedicated ‘casino holiday’ seems to be an increasingly common trip travellers make. If you’re interested in this type of holiday yourself, you’ve pretty much got four choices across the globe when it comes to the best of the best in Casino gaming.
Global casino cities
In Europe, Monaco is the heart of casino gaming and one of the first true casino resorts, with the magnificent 154-year-old Casino de Monte Carlo the crowning jewel.
Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the US’s gambling hotspots. Atlantic City in New Jersey is the hub for East Coast gamblers, with people from New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston heading to the Boardwalk for some good-old fashioned casino gaming at the likes of the Borgata and Tropicana.
Las Vegas is the West coast’s response, but is infinitely more famous, glamorous and successful than its East Coast counterpart. Glitzy pool parties and celeb-spotting galore have made Las Vegas into the world’s gambling capital, with world-renowned casinos like the Wynn, the MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace and the Luxor generation revenues of over $25 billion in 2016.
Macau is the mirror-image of Las Vegas in the Far East, with the former Portuguese colony acting as China’s own Sin City, complete with ‘Cotai’Strip and carbon-copies of the Venetian, MGM and Wynn Palace. Macau is catching up to Vegas and becoming even more specialised however, with over 50% of the territory’s revenue now coming from casino gaming.
Same games, different experience
Although each city offers the same function, each of them offers a completely different experience.
Monaco, for example, has a word associated with it that could be quite prohibitive: exclusivity. Casinos like the Casino de Monte Carlo have strict entry requirements and you’ll need to be able to make a big deposit if you want to access certain tables.
The atmosphere certainly isn’t as relaxed as it is over in the US either, and a lot of time the casino or its internal areas are off limits to the general public – either hired out by companies or managed by a guest list filled with royalty and celebrities. Plus, you’ll need to have the cash to afford some of Europe’s most expensive hotels (the 5-star Hotel de Paris, costs roughly £320 per night for very a basic room) unless you’re happy to travel from the much cheaper French resorts near Cannes and Nice.
Atlantic City and Las Vegas are more similar in that they are dominated by huge, corporate casinos that are less old-time gambling hall and more Disneyland. Granted, you’ll find casinos like the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas’ old strip, but casinos like the Wynn, MGM and New York, New York are places of opulence, decadence and grandeur. The Vegas experience is designed for big spenders, too, with drinks, food and entertainment prices slightly inflated to account for holidaymakers who are happier to spend more when they are having fun. You won’t experience that as much in Atlantic City, which still has plenty of local restaurants and attractions that don’t bump their prices up to match the casinos.
Macau is similar to Vegas, thanks to the majority of casinos being built, owned and managed by the same investors that turned Las Vegas into the gambling capital of the world. The Venetian – a gigantic resort, casino and hotel built in an Italian-Renaissance style – comes complete with gondola filled canals, over 3,000 slot machines and 800 gaming tables. The experience is possibly even more extravagant than Las Vegas, thanks in part to the greater number of millionaires (and billionaires) who stop off in Macau from Hong Kong and Mainland China.
The next major gambling destination
Among these four major powerhouses for gambling, there are a few other destinations that have embraced casino gambling and are vying to become a gambling tourism Mecca.
Detroit has three major Vegas-esque casinos, Aruba in the Caribbean is trying to expand its casino offerings and Singapore is looking to hop on the Macau bandwagon with the opening of the Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay resorts. However, the next big casino destination is unlikely to be a physical location.
Online casinos are more popular than ever. Countries like the United Kingdom, which have a regulated but ultimately relaxed viewpoint on gambling have seen virtual casinos and online gambling make up one third of all gaming revenues, a trend which is continuing year on year. With many countries like China and the US now discussing the viability of legalised online and land-based gambling, the internet could well be the next multi-trillion dollar gambling ‘resort’.
The beauty of online casinos is that gamblers don’t need to travel to a casino to get a piece of the action. As highlighted earlier, Casinos like the Casino de Monte Carlo can bankrupt many visitors even before any money has been wagered – through drink prices and entry fees. With online casinos, many are free to join and even offer bonuses and free funds to entice new customers.
One of the biggest advantages however is the fact that players don’t need to fly around the globe to get a world-class casino experience. The best online casinos have created several innovative ways to bring the casino experience to computers and mobile devices using exciting features like Live Casino. There also a huge range of games, including slots, blackjack and roulette to be found at top rated online casinos such as 888casino. This solves the problem of online gambling sometimes lacking the human element, by broadcasting professional dealers directly from casinos around the world. This added level of immersion means players don’t need to get to a location to enjoy casino games, and more importantly they don’t need to spend time and money dressing up and shelling out on taxis, drinks and food. Everything can be spent on gaming. For these reasons, online gaming is the most popular form of gambling in the UK.
Although online domination may still be some way off, as countries around the world deliberate their stance on online gaming, it’s worth looking at the UK as an example of how the internet can affect the gambling industry. As well as making up a third of revenue, online casino gaming is steadily changing the gambling culture too. While Vegas and Atlantic City may have a seedier reputation in the US, the UK gambling industry is so heavily regulated by the government, online casinos have become trusted, paving the way for a more sustainable gaming industry.
However, if you’re looking to relax by a pool and sipping cocktails before a wild night in the major casinos of Las Vegas, land-based casinos may still be for you – that is, until VR casinos become more mainstream.
Casino holidays are becoming more popular, with Vegas, Macau, Atlantic City and Monaco among the most visited destinations across the world. But the way people are using casinos is changing. People can now play casino games on their computers and mobile phones, and this technology is set to get even more immersive over time, as virtual reality technology continues to emerge. So in the future, could it be that people will soon not be visiting these destinations purely to play in casinos?