Think you know which city is the best for gambling?
When you think of gambling, most people would naturally think of Las Vegas and for good reason. Sin City has over 40 casinos in the Strip area alone with many more establishments running gambling entertainment on their premises. Undoubtedly Las Vegas deserves its reputation as the mecca of gambling but we wanted to know where else in the world attracts such large amounts of visitors intent on taking on the house at their own game.
In this Worldwide Edition of the Best Cities for Gambling we take a look at the global hotspots of casinos to see just who is in competition with Vegas as the ultimate gambling city.
The Dirty Dozen: 12 Top Cities for Gambling
In no particular order, we bring you our choice of the best 12 cities, worldwide, that offer the best gambling opportunities.
Some are home to the largest casinos, some have more than you’d expect whilst others have a world-class reputation for providing some of the best in gaming venues.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
As one of Europe’s leading tourist resorts, Monte Carlo has a fistful of different reputations; the playground of the rich and famous, the home of the famous film festival and as one of the most interesting Formula 1 Grand Prix racing circuits.
However, it is perhaps most famously known for the iconic gambling establishment, the Casino de Monte Carlo. The ornate building has featured in numerous films including, of course, the James Bond franchise of movies and Ocean’s Twelve.
One of four high-end casinos in the city, the Casino de Monte Carlo was opened in 1863 and runs roulette tables, stud poker, blackjack, baccarat, craps tables as well as video poker, slot machines and the 17th-century French card game, Trente et Quarante.
Interestingly, citizens of Monaco are forbidden from entering the casino’s gaming rooms and strict door security is in force to check ID.
Monte Carlo is a stunning location for gamblers looking for an opulent trip away and offers many of us the only chance to see, as the New Encyclopedia Britannica puts it, ‘the extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth’.
Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
Following a period of rapid decline in the city, post-World War II, Atlantic City legalized gambling in 1976 in an effort to revitalize the once popular resort. The change in the law had an immediate effect and when Resorts International opened in 1978, it became the first legalized casino in the eastern United States. Atlantic City is often overshadowed by Vegas despite high-profile publicity campaigns by the likes of Donald Trump to bring gamblers in to the casinos. In the 1980s, the city was home to most of the large heavyweight boxing bouts which did help boost its profile.
Today Atlantic City has seven large casinos (down from the dozen it had up until 2014-2016 which saw widespread closures). These big name gambling resorts still attract a hardcore of regular gambling events and do a big trade in tourism based on the industry. Names such as Caesars, Golden Nugget, The Atlantic Club and The Borgata will be familiar and for good reason.
The city, dubbed the ‘World’s Playground’ in the prohibition era, has struggled in recent years to retain its reputation as the Gambling Capital of the East Coast but still brings in around 28.5 million visitors each year, contributing almost $278 million in taxes across the $3.3 billion in revenue.
Reno, Nevada, USA
Famously known as the ‘biggest little city in the world’, Reno was originally the gambling capital of Nevada until it was overtaken by Vegas in the 1950s. One of the first states in the USA to legalize gambling following the prohibition era, Nevada was quick to capitalize on this turn of events. Reno quickly opened the Bank Club and the Palace; the former being the largest casino in the world, and the states largest employer, at the time.
Reno remains a popular alternative to Las Vegas, attracting regular visitors from San Franscisco and Sacramento as well as attracting almost 4.8 million tourists each year.
There are 15 casinos in Reno which between them operate over 13,000 gaming rooms and bring in a total of around $872 in direct gaming revenue.
Reno is the birthplace of Harrah’s and is home to big name casinos such as Atlantis, Peppermill, Grand Sierra, Nugget Casino and Silver Legacy.
San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There are 8 casinos in Puerto Rico’s capital city and all of them have an excellent reputation. Most are open 24/7 and the biggest draw on the circuit is, of course, the San Juan Casino and Spa. Also known as the Stellaris Casino, you can find poker tables, slots and plenty of other card games across its 12,800 sq ft interior.
San Jose, Costa Rica
The combination of over 19 casinos and a buoyant exchange rate for visiting tourists makes San Jose a must-visit location if you want to experience gambling abroad. The city never sleeps and the casinos make the most of high tourist numbers by offering a huge range in entertainment, food and drink as well as gaming opportunities.
Most of the hotels have their own casinos but there are some that run independently; Luckys and Horseshoe certainly offer an authentic taste of Costa Rican gambling. Most of the casinos are small (under 4,000 sq ft) but the intimate feel to them sets a distinct atmosphere and you will be more inclined to see them all rather than stick to just one if you were visiting one of the glitzier and larger cities.
Aruba has ten casinos making it the capital city of gambling in the Caribbean. All offer a variety of gaming opportunities with the most popular being the Hyatt Regency, Seaport Casino and the Stellaris. The gambling opportunities are pretty ordinary with no major tournaments or celebrity endorsed championships but it is the setting and the sheer choice which makes Aruba hit this list. Where else can you unwind after a hard nights gambling by relaxing with picture-perfect white sands and crystal clear waters?
With just a handful of casinos, the capital of France is not known for its gambling but has, nevertheless, built an excellent reputation for its gaming rooms. The biggest, and best known, casino was the Aviation Club de France. Founded in 1907, the club gained notoriety for hosting some of the world’s largest poker tournaments including World Poker Tournament and the Grand Prix de Paris. Sadly, the club is now closed.
The Clichy Montmartre is a popular casino that hosts good poker tournaments and often runs two events daily.
Most of the casinos are situated in the north of the city and range from high-class, sophisticated casinos to more budget venues.
Los Angeles, California, USA
The City of Angels, is certainly more innocent compared to the City of Sin when it comes to numbers of casinos; however, Los Angeles is home to nine casinos all pulling their weight when it comes to entertaining the regulars and visitors.
The Hustler is probably the best known casino and holds a regular poker tournament which attracts good numbers for a reasonable entry fee.
In an effort to compete with other cities on the list, L.A. is home to The Commerce Casino, the largest card casino in the world.
Singapore City, Singapore
Since gambling was legalized in 2005, casinos in Singapore have taken off in a big way, mainly to cater for its huge tourist trade and large ex-pat communities. The world’s 2nd largest market for casinos and consistently in the top ten cities for gambling in the world, Singapore is a major player.
There are two famous casinos of note; Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. The latter was the world’s third most expensive building ever constructed when it opened in 2010 at a cost of $4.93 billion. Covering an area of 120 acres of land, the Resorts Word Sentosa casino is 15,000 sq m (capped by regulation). Singapore citizens must pay for access to either this casino or Marina Bay Sands at a cost of $100 per day or $2000 per year with foreign visitors entering for free. Entry fees are recycled by the Singaporean authorities for charitable investment with the casino not benefiting from them.
Perhaps a surprising entry on our list, London does not hold any great reputation for its gambling culture but the city does have some excellent casinos.
The Hippodrome is the UK’s largest casino and covers three floors with its basement level ‘Gold Room’, cabaret theater and main arena gaming floor. Refurbished in 2009, the building’s design incorporates a minstrels gallery retained from the original theater in a full-height ceiling.
The city has a further 25 casinos all offering good gaming facilities. From the Edwardian stylings of the poker rooms at the Ritz Club to the modern Palm Beach Casino at The Mayfair Hotel, you can experience another side to the British in these sophisticated gambling venues.
There are two parts of China that operate independently of the usual state laws; Hong Kong and Macau. Whilst the former has earned a name for itself in the sex industry, Macau is a veritable mecca for gambling in Asia. With large operators like Wynn, MGM and Las Vegas Sands all opening sizable resorts, visitors flock to the area in large numbers. In fact, gambling constitutes 50% of the economy in Macau.
Big venues like The Venetian Macau dominate the trade but with 33 other casinos to choose from, there is no reason to be caught up in any crowds. The Venetian Macau is the largest casino, and the 7th largest building, in the world. A 39 floor venue with hotel, casino, indoor sporting arena and custom built theater it dominates the skyline and is owned by the American company, Las Vegas Sands.
Not the top of many people’s list when they think about gambling cities but Sydney is home to around a dozen casinos. A beautiful city to visit in its own right, Sydney is also home to some of the regions big poker tournaments including the Star Poker championships. Held at the Star Casino, the championships attract homegrown talent as well as international players.
The Star Casino itself covers around 104,000 sq ft of gaming space with 140 table games, 1490 gaming machines and 34 poker tables. The venue has seven restaurants and bars to keep visitors from straying beyond its four walls. That’s not to mention the hundreds of local ‘pokie’ machines you will find in nearby bars and betting shops.
Another big-name casino with four times as much internal space is The Crown. Due to open in 2020, it will be the largest casino in Australia and the tallest building in the city. It is likely that the casino will only operate under strict VIP membership rules.
Featured image ‘Hard Rock Casino’ via Flickr.