The World’s Top Casino Destinations
The chances are high that you are visiting Gambling City because you love online casinos as much as we do. What is not to like about playing a few quick games of blackjack on your mobile phone while sitting in public transport on your way to work? Or relax with some rounds of roulette on your laptop in the evening while lazing on your couch after a long day? The gambling possibilities at online casinos are endless – and especially with the advance of the live casino feature it does come close to the real experience you would find in land based casinos.
Why visit a land based casino?
Even though online casinos can be as much fun as land based casinos – with equal, if not greater – possibilities to win big, you might of course at times prefer to go for the real deal. And why wouldn’t you? If we look at our own team here at Gambling City we can only conclude that even though we play a lot online we do frequently visit some land based casinos too. Online casinos do have some additional benefits over land based casinos. These are foremost all the bonuses which you can earn when playing online, but of course also the ease of access is a great benefit of online casinos. However, the same can be said vice versa as land based casinos do have some great advantages on their own. They often make for a greater experience with all the sights and sounds and especially if you might visit with a group of friends it make for a great day out.
Of course, you can always visit your local casino if there is one in your town or in a nearby city. This is however not always the case, especially if you are unlucky enough to live in a state or country where gambling at land based casinos might be forbidden by law. Whether that is the case or not, many gambling lovers do often make dedicated trips to visit a casino which attracts them. Some even make tailored holidays to visit the world’s biggest and most famous casinos in order to have the greatest gambling adventures and excitement! If you are a casino lover we can surely recommend going on such a trip. There is just something special about setting foot in Las Vegas for the first time or dressing up to visit the famous casino in Monaco. That said, there are plenty more cool casino destinations besides these two around the world which are worthy of a visit. In this article, we list our personal top 10 of land based casino destinations. The list, which starts at 10 and goes down to our most beloved casino destination, features gambling destinations across four continents!
10. Reno, Nevada, United States
Reno earns the tenth spot on our list of best casino destinations as it is a great alternative to its much larger and better known neighbour of Las Vegas located further to the south in the desert state of Nevada. Nicknamed ‘The Biggest Little City in the World’, Reno is not a large city, having just 250,000 inhabitants. The history of Reno began as a mining town during the silver and gold rush when thousands of people flocked to the Wild West of the United States in the hope to make it big. Nowadays, the city hosts thousands of people hoping to strike gold in a whole other way: by winning the jackpot in one of the many casinos of the city.
Nevada’s liberal gambling laws have made the state a favourite destination for gamblers from all over the United States and beyond. In the 1950s it was Reno which was the gambling capital of the United States and not Las Vegas. Only in the 1960s did Las Vegas overtake Reno and grew enormously in size, while Reno always remained that ‘biggest little city’. Also the rise of Native American casinos in the neighbouring state of California affected the gambling industry in Reno, as many Californians who were forced to head to Reno to put down a wager could now freely gamble in casinos in their own state. That said, Reno is a resurgent little city and it has found other ways to make sure it would still stay relevant. While downtown – with its iconic Reno Arch spanning Virginia Street – is still the hub of the city’s gambling industry, brand new casino resorts have opened on the outskirts of the city in recent years. These state-of-the-art resorts are all huge and have all amenities modern travellers seek.
Peppermill and other Reno casinos
The largest casino in Reno is the Peppermill, which was opened on 23rd April 1971. The resort is themed after the Italian region of Tuscany and features a large pool area. It has over 1,600 rooms, more than 750 suites, ten restaurants and more than 100,000 square feet of convention facilities. Another Reno classic is the Atlantis Casino and Resort, with over 800 rooms and suites featuring a Jacuzzi. The Eldorado Resort and Casino is also a firm Reno favourite. Located in downtown Reno, it actually consists of multiple towers with distinct hotel and casinos such as the Circus Circus and Silver Legacy which are all interconnected.
There is however much more to see and do in Reno besides all the casinos. Beautiful Lake Tahoe is just 22 miles out of the Reno city limits and makes for a lovely day trip if you rent a car. Or why not visit at the end of summer when the world famous Burning Man festival takes place in the nearby Black Rock Desert just to the north of Reno. This hippie-like festival attracts tens of thousands of revellers each year, constructing out of nothing a large city in the middle of the desert for the duration of the festival, only to deconstruct it all again at the end of the festival.
9. Estoril, Portugal
If you are searching for a classical European casino experience, then the casino in Estoril might do the trick. Located on the Portuguese Riviera just a few miles to the west of the capital of Lisbon, the ‘Casino do Estoril’ as it is named in Portuguese is even one of the biggest in Europe. The casino was built in 1916 and soon gained a reputation as the place for affluent gamblers to go. Besides the nouveau riche and wealthy businessmen the casino was also a beloved place among the nobility, royals and adventurers.
During World War II the casino was a hotbed of spying activity as due to the neutrality of Portugal both Allied and Nazi spies and intelligence officers gathered in the small Portuguese coastal town, standing side by side on the roulette tables of the casino. It is no surprise that the Estoril casino (and not the one in Monaco as is often thought!) inspired British author Ian Fleming to write his classic James Bond novel Casino Royale. Nowadays, the majority of the casino’s stocks are owned by business magnate Stanley Ho, who also owns many properties in the Chinese gambling city of Macau.
High roller areas
Every tourist can easily enter the Estoril Casino, although the high roller areas are not as easily accessed. While the atmosphere in the normal areas of the casino is rather down to earth, you are advised to dress up a bit more if you want to gain entry to the more exclusive parts of the casino. Given that the town of Estoril is just a short train ride away from Lisbon, the casino might make the ideal weekend trip for players based in Europe. If you might get bored from gambling at the casino, you can also head straight to the town beach of Estoril, located just a stone throw away, for a quick swim. The neighbouring municipality of Cascais, of which Estoril is officially a part of, also makes for a relaxed seaside resort to explore. If you really want to sample the old age of European gambling, make a side trip to the hilltop town of Sintra to visit some opulent castles of the old Portuguese royalty.
8. Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Another US gambling city which makes our list of top casino destinations is Atlantic City – the prime casino destination on the American east coast. Atlantic City has always been a popular destination for American travellers due to its prime location on the Atlantic Ocean. The popular boardwalk and beach attracted thousands of visitors from neighbouring cities and states such as New York City. Already in the 19th Century, many hotels and resorts were constructed in the city.
Atlantic City has a long and difficult relationship with gambling. Weirdly, casino gambling has only been made legal in the state of New Jersey in 1976 when the state’s voters decided in favour of it. Before, gambling was either banned outright (such as in the days of prohibition in the 1920s) or somewhat tolerated. In these days the mafia held sway over all drinking and gambling activities, a chapter in the city’s history which is perhaps most beautifully captured in the HBO hit series ‘Boardwalk Empire’ which takes place in Atlantic City. Even in the days when gambling was forbidden the city still attracted thousands of visitors who flocked the the illegal casinos. When the US government realised that its citizens just wanted to have a drink and to gamble, and that banning these activities only played into the hands of organised crime, it quickly reversed prohibition laws.
Even though Atlantic City has fallen into a slight decline in recent years with some top resorts and casinos having closed down, there is still a lot to see and do in the city. One of the more infamous closures of recent years is the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino which closed its doors in 2016 after the owners of the casino failed to reach an agreement with local labour unions. It was Donald Trump’s second closure in the city after the Trump Plaza, which closed its doors in 2014 being the poorest performing casino in the city.
Currently, the biggest casinos in Atlantic City are the Resorts Casino Hotel with its roaring twenties theme, the Caesars Atlantic City – which like its bigger Las Vegas cousin has a Roman theme, and the modern Bally’s hotel and casino. Other giant players on the Atlantic City market are Harrah’s, Tropicana, Golden Nugget, Borgata, Hard Rock and Ocean. Some of these resort names might ring a bell as they are smaller sister properties of some famous Las Vegas casinos!
7. Sun City, South Africa
After casino destinations in Europe and North America it is now time to feature an African destination. Arguably Africa’s best known casino resort is located in South Africa. Sun City is a project by South African businessman Sol Kerzner, who wanted to create a large tourist resort catering for all kinds of local and international visitors. The city – basically just one giant resort – was opened in 1979 and soon attracted droves of tourists. The resort is located near the city of Rustenberg, about two hours driving distance from South Africa’s largest city of Johannesburg. The resort however has its own airport offering flights to both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Sun City quickly became a success among middle class and wealthy white South African citizens. This was mainly due to the fact that activities such as gambling and topless shows were forbidden in South Africa proper. They were however allowed in Sun City as it was located in a semi-independent territory of the country set up by the then Apartheid-era government. Foreign visitors however mostly stayed away due to a boycott of the Apartheid government which discriminated heavily against the native black population. Kerzner however tried to boost the popularity of Sun City by paying huge amounts of money to international stars to perform in the resort. The Beach Boys, Cher, Queen, Status Quo, Elton John and Rod Stewart were among the top artists to perform in Sun City despite a backlash from their fans urging them not to visit South Africa during the Apartheid era.
Of course, the days of Apartheid are now history and in 1994 the semi-independent territory in which Sun City was located was reincorporated again in a new South Africa led by Nelson Mandela. The city however remained a popular holiday destination and continues to attract gamblers to its casinos. Currently, Sun City has four main hotels: the Soho Hotel, Cascades Hotel, The Cabanas and The Palace of the Lost City. Besides the casinos there are also golf resorts, concert halls, water parks, the South African hall of fame and cultural villages, making Sun City an all-round travel destination. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is located on the border of Sun City, which means that any gambler heading to Sun City can easily combine a few rounds of roulette and blackjack with a safari!
6. Baden-Baden, Germany
As one of Europe’s most important countries, Germany is of course host to some top notch casinos. Many of Germany’s casinos have a tradition spanning back multiple decades and still ooze old world charm and tradition. One of such casinos is the one in Baden-Baden, a spa resort on the edge of the Black Forest in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. If you are looking for an unique casino destination then Baden-Baden might be well suited for you.
The casino of Baden-Baden is located in the stately kurhaus, which was originally built as a spa. When you walk in the main building, with its classical Corinthian columns, huge chandeliers and stained glass windows and cupolas, it really feels like you step back centuries in time. The building dates from the year 1824 and has a long history, with many dignitaries and rich travellers having visited the premises in the years since. About a decade after the casino opened it really started to attract a huge crowd. This was mainly due to France having banned gambling. As Baden-Baden is located not too far away from the French border, hundreds of Frenchmen flocked to Germany to put down a wager.
Impressed writers and actors
It is no big surprise that many famous people have visited the Baden-Baden Casino in the past. One of them was the famous Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The novelist was so impressed by his visit that he got fresh inspiration to write his classic ‘The Gambler’ after visiting the German city. German-American singer and actress Marlene Dietrich called the casino “the world’s most beautiful casino” – something which we hear a lot from those who have visited the casino as well.
The casino has also been host to many important conferences in the past decades. The International Olympic Congress (IOC) met in Baden-Baden in 1981 where it awarded that the 1988 Winter Olympics to Calgary in Canada and the Summer Olympics of the same year to Seoul in South Korea. NATO also met in the casino for a summit in 2009. It shows that the Baden-Baden Casino is not only popular with gamblers but also with organisation and government dignitaries when it comes to organising conferences.
Easy to visit
Visiting Baden-Baden is fairly easy for those residing in Europe as the city is easy to reach by car, train or plane. Even though Baden-Baden only has a small airport with a handful of low cost flights, the nearby airports of Stuttgart and Frankfurt are much larger and have flights to many destinations across Europe and further afield. The airport of the nearby city of Strasbourg in France is an alternative entry point. If you are in town, don’t forget to visit one of the famous spas as well. The name ‘Baden’ in the German language basically means ‘baths’ – which already shows what made the city famous. Baden-Baden is also an excellent gateway to the beautiful Black Forest, one of Germany’s most famous natural areas. All combined, Baden-Baden really makes for an excellent casino destination and weekend getaway.
5. St. Julian's, Malta
Experienced online casino players know that Malta is a hotbed of casino activity. This small island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the biggest online casinos in the world due to its liberal gambling and tax laws. If you are playing at an online casino, chances are big that it is based on this island nation which is a full member of the European Union. If you like to gamble at land based casinos, then Malta might be a great destination for a dedicated casino holiday as well!
As Malta is a popular holiday destination in general, it is easy to reach the country by plane with the local airport having flights to most countries in Europe. With plenty of accommodation options on the island, whether you are looking for a small hotel, an apartments or large resort or chain hotel, a trip can easily be planned. If you are looking for some casino fun we recommend heading towards the lively coastal city of St. Julian’s, the northernmost municipality of the main Valletta-Sliema-St. Julian’s agglomeration on the east side of Malta. Besides the many pubs and nightclubs of this trendy destinations you will also find most of the island’s casinos here.
The most famous casino of Malta is without doubt the Dragonara. Officially known as the ‘Il Palazz tad Dragunara’ in Maltese (the Dragonara Palace), this building was originally built in 1870 as the summer residence of the Scicluna family who were influential local bankers. It is named after the Dragonara peninsula on which it is constructed. Local legends say that once a dragon lived in nearby sea caves, although the dragon sounds which locals claimed to have heard in the past might really have been waves crashing ashore. An alternative story alleges that the dragon legend was started by a local smuggler in the hope that locals would stay away from the area.
The palace was first converted into a casino in 1964 when the Paceville district of St. Julian’s transformed into a hotbed of nightlife activity. What was once a main agricultural area of the island has since turned into the island’s most popular tourist destination and is now full of high rise apartment blocks and hotels. In the 1990s, the international chain hotel Westin built a large hotel next to the casino. After some recent renovations the Dragonara is booming, with over 350,000 visitors a year flocking to the casino grounds in the hope of hitting the jackpot.
Other Maltese casinos
The Dragonara is however not the only casino on the island of Malta. St. Julian’s alone has two other famous casinos. These are the Olympic Casino (officially titled the ‘Casino Malta by Olympic Casino’) which is the newest casino on the island. Even though it lacks the history of the Dragonara, it does rival it when it comes to sheer floor size. The stylish Portomasco Casino is the third casino which you can try out when staying in St. Julian’s. Malta’s fourth casino is located in St. Paul’s Bay, another main tourist hot spot on the island. The Oracle Casino as it is called can be found in the vibrant town of Bugibba, one of the main resort towns located in St. Paul’s Bay. You can find the Oracle Casino on the grounds of the four star Dolmen Hotel Resort.
You can easily combine a trip to the Maltese casinos with a bit of local culture. Malta is home to an unique culture which can perhaps be best described as a mix between Italian, English and African influences. The ancient Phoenicians and Carthagians left their mark on the island, even though it was already inhabited by an advanced group of people in the Stone Age. The island is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sights, among which are two important archaeological sights. The capital of Valletta with its unique architecture and thriving food scene is the third sight listed by UNESCO. When you are tired of gambling you can also head to the nearby island of Gozo or visit the natural beauty of Malta.
4. London, United Kingdom
For our fourth spot on the list of best casino destinations we stay in Europe. The British capital of London is not only one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, but also makes a worthwhile visit if your goal is to win big in one of the many casinos of the city. As one of the financial centres of the world, London is easy to reach whether you live in Europe or any other continent. There are direct flights to almost every other important city in the world, making London and easy-to-plan travel destination. With an abundance of great hotels in all price categories, a weekend break is easily booked. Before you know it, you are ready to gamble as much as you want in one of the great casinos of the city.
London has many casinos – 29 to be precise, all catering to a wide crop of players. Some casinos are down to earth gambling dens where bets start at just 0.01 GBP, making them perfect for players with a small budget or those who fancy a more casual atmosphere above dressing codes. Naturally, London also features casinos suitable for high rollers where bets of several tens of thousands of pounds are not uncommon. These casinos also include some exclusive clubs where membership might be required or places where strict dress codes apply. Make sure you do your research before heading to one of the many London casinos!
The largest casino in London is the Grosvenor Victoria Casino. The Grosvenor Victoria has well over 70,000 square feet of floor space. Located on famous Edgware Road, the Vic’s as it is locally called is a well-known casino and a popular place for groups of friends to put down a few wagers. Grosvenor can be found at more locations around London. The Grosvenor St Giles is located at Tottenham Court Road next to the famous St Giles Hotel. Another Grosvenor can be found in Soho, where the Grosvenor Rialto Piccadilly Casino welcomes guests to its large casino floors and trendy restaurants.
At over 65,000 square feet of floor space, the Aspers Casino Westfield Stratford City is reportedly London’s second largest casino, featuring well over 40 table games as well as more than 15 poker tables. Of course, if you prefer to play slots you can also gamble all you want on the casino’s 150 slot machines. One of the exclusive London casinos is the Colony Club in Mayfair, which also features a highly rated on-site restaurant and bar. For history, head to Hippodrome Casino on famous Leicester Square. This casino has been in existence for well over a century and also features a well-known theatre.
Other London casinos
One of the more down to earth places to gamble in London is Horizon’s Casino. The Horizon is one of the few London casinos where non-members can gain access to the long-term favourite located on Leicester Square. At the same central London location, you can also find the Empire Casino. The Empire has a famous sports bar as well which is open 24/7. The casino is also a popular nightspot on Friday and Saturday nights when a DJ plays at the casino floors. Other popular London casinos are the Barracuda on Baker Street and Genting in Chinatown.
3. Macau, China
For our third most favourite casino destination we are heading to Asia, where Macau shows perfectly just how popular gambling is in China. Macau is literally booming with Chinese and other Asian players, making it the biggest casino destination in the entire world if looking at the amount of money being waged by punters. Macau is a former Portuguese colony and these influences can be seen throughout the city, both when it comes to the sights such as the ruins of the St. Paul’s Church as well as the city’s casinos which have names such as the ‘Lisboa’ – Portuguese for Lisbon.
Already in the days when Macau was still a Portuguese colony the city was known to be a popular casino destination. In 1850 the Portuguese colonial government legalised gambling, which resulted in thousands of tourists heading to the small territory. Macau quickly gained the nickname ‘Monte Carlo of the East’ – a name which has stuck since. When the Portuguese handed back control over Macau to China in 1999 the gambling activity did not stop. On the contrary, even though gambling was and is still illegal in mainland China, the communist leadership saw an opportunity and actively encouraged gambling activities in Macau. In 2001 it ended the monopoly on gambling held by the Honk Kong billionaire businessman Stanley Ho and welcomed new casinos into the autonomous territory of Macau. Today, casinos make up more than 50 percent of the territory’s economy.
If you want to gamble on slots or table games you can choose between many different casinos (there are over 40 in Macau). Some of them might sound familiar to the ears of experienced players as many well-known Western casinos have since opened up shop in Macau. The largest and perhaps best known casino is The Venetian Macau. This casino looks exactly the same as the Venetian in Las Vegas with its faux Italian renaissance frescoes and canals with traditional gondolas. With over 550,000 square feet of casino floor space, 3,400 slots and 800 table games the Venetian in Macau is indeed absolutely massive.
Other famous Las Vegas names such as the Wynn, Sands and MGM Grand also have opened casinos in Macau. Famous local casinos – which are just as large as the foreign names – are the Lisboa, Grandview, Jal Alai, Golden Dragon and Ponte 16. There are also many different Galaxy Casinos in Macau such as the Galaxy Rio, Galaxy Starworld, Galaxy Cotai Mega Resort and Galaxy Waldo. All these casinos we mentioned are suitable for every sort of player as you can easily find tables and slots suitable for those on a small budget as well as table games for the real high rollers.
No Chinese visa needed
The interesting aspect about Macau is that the city is an autonomous territory of China, which means that many Chinese laws do not apply here. Most important for foreign tourists is that many visitors (most Western nationalities) do not require a Chinese visa if they only visit Macau and/or neighbouring Hong Kong as long as they do not enter or travel through mainland China. If you catch a flight into Macau’s airport, or travel via neighbouring Hong Kong (from where there are frequent buses and ferries to Macau) all travel is visa-free. Indeed, as Macau’s airport has relatively few flights most tourists actually fly into Hong Kong’s large international airport from where they take onward transport to Macau.
One fun detail about Macau is that all of the biggest casinos offer free transports from the territory’s entry points to the casinos. For example, when you arrive at Macau’s ferry port you can find a free bus service which brings you to the Venetian, the Lisboa or one of the many other casinos in the city! A trip to Macau is easy to arrange and gives a fascinating insight into gambling in Asia. Combined with the great food on offer and wide choice of different hotels, it makes for a fabulous casino trip!
2. Monte Carlo, Monaco
If you seek an old-fashioned, classic casino experience of the golden age of casino gambling, then look no further than Monaco’s famous casino. Officially called the Casino de Monte Carlo, this casino in the micro state of Monaco is one of the world’s best known casinos. Everyone of course knows it as well from the many films set in this renowned casino such as the James Bond movies ‘Golden Eye’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’. Even though arguably the casino is a bit past its heydays of bygone years, it is still the main reason why so many people flock to the small principality of Monaco on the French Riviera.
The Monte Carlo Casino is owned by a company called ‘Société des bains de mer de Monaco’, which is a public company in which the Government of Monaco and the royal family have a majority stake. It were the royals who first launched the idea to build a casino in the southern French micro state. In the mid 19th Century, Princess Caroline was worried that the Monegasque royals of the Grimaldi family were headed straight for bankruptcy and came up with the bold plan to turn Monaco in a prime holiday spot. She decided that in order to achieve this, the state should have its own casino. This was however easier said than done as Monaco lacked a good road connection with the city of Nice – the main hub of the French Riviera. Also the lack of good lodging options in Monaco made for a rocky start as in the early days of the casino many gamblers stayed away.
A real royal casino
Only in 1863 when François Blanc took over the day to day running of the casino business did success slowly come to Monaco. Blanc was specially recruited by the Monegasque royal family as he had previous knowledge on how to run a casino, being the manager of the famous casino in Bad Homburg, Germany. He managed to secure large investments from businessmen and even the clergy – among whom Cardinal Pecci who would later become Pope Leo XIII. With the new capital a new casino was constructed as well as a concert hall, hotels and restaurants. From that moment on the casino became a big success story. Until deep in the 20th Century the casino was even the prime source of income of the entire principality of Monaco!
Even though the economy of Monaco these days is more diverse due to the influx of general tourism, the famous Formula One race as well as the many wealthy people who chose to reside in the principality due to its lack of income taxes, the casino is still an important feature. You can find plenty of roulette tables, blackjack, poker rooms, craps and baccarat tables as well as slot machines. Many tourists combine a visit to Monaco with a trip to some of the other famous destinations on the French Riviera such as Cannes, Menton or Saint Tropez – all names which evoke the luxurious lifestyle of the rich and famous. To head to Monaco, it is easiest to fly into Nice, which is located just a few miles to the west of Monaco. From Nice it a straightforward journey by car, bus or train to Monaco, although if you really want to arrive in style you should definitely opt for a direct transfer by helicopter from Nice Airport to Monaco!
1. Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Probably you already guessed that Las Vegas would be our number one gambling destination. It might indeed be a bit of a cliché, but any self-respecting list of top casino destinations should really have Vegas on number one if you want to be taken seriously. Obviously, the inclusion of Las Vegas in this list does not really need any further explanation. We all know from the dozens of films as well as sports and gambling events that this city in the Mojave Desert is the world’s most famous casino destination. Even though the Chinese territory of Macau has surpassed Las Vegas when it comes to the amount of money that is being waged each year, Vegas is still the most popular casino destination around the world.
Given its desert location, Vegas has year-round pleasant to warm temperatures which makes it a great destination especially so for those coming from colder places. Yet Vegas was not chosen because of its location to become the world’s grandest casino destination. The rise of Vegas is purely due to the liberal gambling laws of the state of Nevada in which Las Vegas is located. The city itself is named after the Spanish word for ‘The Meadows’ when a Spanish explorer was the first Westerner to set foot in the Las Vegas valley in 1829. Due to the grassy meadows and the fresh spring waters, the place was a natural location as a rest stop for travellers heading west towards California. When American explorer John C. Fremont arrived in 1844, he convinced others to flock to the area and to settle down in the wider valley. The famous Fremont Street with its many casinos in downtown Las Vegas was later named after him.
Welcome to Las Vegas
In 1905 Las Vegas was officially founded as city when the railways of the Union Pacific Railroad arrived in town and adjacent lands were auctioned off. In 1911 the city officially received full city rights. In the years that followed, Vegas was nothing more but a sleepy transport hub. This changed when in 1931 Nevada relaxed gambling and residency laws after which many people flocked to the state. Also the construction of the giant Hoover Dam just outside the city was pivotal to the city as thousands of constructions workers hailing from other states required new houses to settle.
In the 1950s, the city really started to grow fast due to the construction of new casinos and resorts. Already in the years prior some iconic names started their business in Vegas, such as the Flamingo Hotel and Golden Nugget in 1946 in the boom years after World War II. In 1950 the Desert Inn opened, followed by Binion’s Horseshoe in 1951 and both the Sands and Sahara in 1952. In 1957 Las Vegas even got its own university, which signalled that the city was becoming so much more diverse than being a gambling city alone. Also the arrival of the US Air Force with the construction of the giant Nellis Air Force Base (which already started in the 1940s) was an important moment for the city of Las Vegas. The golden 1950s finished with the construction of the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” in 1959, welcoming new arrivals and tourists to the city.
Sharp Vegas rises
The years after saw the population of Vegas rise sharply. What was in 1960 a city of 64,000 souls already doubled to 125,000 in 1970 and 165,000 in 1980. The 1990s started the era of the large casino resorts, which started with the construction of the Mirage in 1989, followed by the MGM Grand, Treasure Island and Luxor in 1993. In 1996 the Stratosphere and Monte Carlo followed, while 1997 saw the New York, New York being constructed. In 1998 the iconic Bellaggio was built. The millennium ended with the construction of Mandalay Bay, the Venetian and Paris in 1999. All these casinos had in common their location as they were all built along the Las Vegas Boulevard, more commonly known as ‘The Strip’. Partly located outside of the city of Las Vegas proper (in the adjacent city of Paradise), these giant casino resorts marked the expansion of gambling activities from the downtown area centred around Fremont Street to the wide expanses along the Strip.
Nowadays Las Vegas is a thriving of some 650,000 citizens. Besides the many casinos, there are great dining options in the thousands of restaurants, cultural and theatre shows and endless shopping and nightlife opportunities. It ensures that the city not only attracts gamblers but a much wider audience. Nowadays, Vegas is also a beloved destination for conventions, nature lovers (the famous national parks of the Grand Canyon and Zion are close by) and even those seeking exquisite dining or fine art. With its well-connected airport and location among important interstates and the old railway line, it is easy to travel to Vegas. Nowadays there are even direct flights to European cities such as London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, as well as to Beijing and Tokyo in Asia, making it easier for overseas travellers to visit Las Vegas.
The Vegas experience
Of course, most visitors still come to Vegas for the casinos. First time arrivals in the city will quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the gambling industry in town. It already begins at the airport, where you will see slot machines even at the baggage collector belts in the arrivals terminal. When you first set foot in one of the mega casino resorts your senses will be overloaded by all the sights and sounds around you. The flashing neon colours of the endless rows of slot machines with their unique noise of in game sound bites and all the coins falling down if players around you are winning is ubiquitous to every Vegas experience.
Vegas is such an unique casino destination that every kind of player can be sure to have their kicks. Whether you are a beginning player, someone on a tight budget, or a high roller who likes to gamble a small fortune, you can always find a suitable table or slot that will suit your needs. Especially the high stakes gamblers can easily make Vegas their playground. If you maximise your benefits and play it right, you will instantly be comped by casino management in all kinds of freebies. It is not uncommon at all for high rollers to receive free upgrades to the largest suites or to receive free vouchers to dine at the resort’s finest restaurants. Any casino floor manager who knows the business will instantly recognise a high roller playing and try to do everything to keep their business at the casino.
More than only casinos
Yet there is much more than gambling alone in Vegas. The city can perhaps best be seen as a giant adult amusement park. Some resorts literally are an amusement park, with Circus Circus, New York, New York and Stratosphere Tower even having roller coasters and other thrill rides on their premises! Then there are the famous theatre shows, adult shows and all kinds of other forms of amusement which can be had in Vegas. The sky is literally the limit in this fantastic city full of fun. If you do like to play at online casinos and occasionally might hit your local land-based casino, making a journey to Vegas is a real must.
Go and travel!
We hope that our list of the world’s top casino destinations might serve as a bit inspiration for your next holiday. All these destinations make for great trips when travelling solo or with friends who are just as much into gambling as you are. But even if you want to tow along your family or friends who do not care as much about casinos as you do it is easy to select a destination which will please all. All of the above destinations have so much more to offer than casinos alone and make for an excellent weekend break or extended holiday. Why not combine your casino journey with some great natural sights, such as visiting Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, or Baden-Baden and the Black Forest? Or combine blackjack with the beach by heading to Estoril, Monaco or Malta? In the case of Sun City in South Africa you can easily go on safari when you are bored of gambling!
Of course, there are many more interesting casinos destinations around the world besides just these ten. Make sure to regularly visit Gambling City if you want to hear more about other casinos – both the land-based as well as online casinos – in the future, as we regularly write reviews and keep you up to date with all the latest gambling news.