Are Iconic Casino Destinations Affected by the Rise in Online Gaming?

In the past, the only way for most people to play casino games was to travel. They had to find a city where gambling was legal and that had casinos open to the public.

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It is for this reason that gambling tourism hotspots developed in different parts of the world. Yet, you may wonder what effect the dawn of internet casinos has had on these places. Are they still going strong or are they struggling to adapt to modern challenges?

More people than ever before are placing bets online in slots machines and at table games like roulette and blackjack. A simple look at a list of live casinos available online shows us that the authentic gambling experience is brought to life via HD live stream at sites such as LeoVegas, Royal Panda and Guts Casino.

So, are these online casinos driving gamblers away from traditional casino hotspots, or are they used by different people? We can find out by looking at three of the most famous places where casinos are a huge part of the local economy.

The Gambling Tourism Hotspots

Gambling was made legal in Las Vegas in 1931, after the first casinos had already sprung up to entertain the thousands of men working on the Hoover Dam construction. The city then went on to become known as the gambling capital of the world, as a series of boom periods saw it cement its reputation as a casino destination.

On the other side of the world, Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China. This former Portuguese colony is home to some of the biggest casinos on Earth. Gambling has been legal here since the mid-19th century, with traditional Chinese games still a big part of the appeal. The majority of the players here come from the Chinese mainland.

In Europe, Monaco is the place that most people think of when they imagine a gambling hotspot. Unlike Las Vegas and Macau, this is a smaller resort that has been traditionally regarded as being more exclusive. The iconic Monte Carlo casino opened its doors for the first time in the 1850s.

Macau City Panorama © Andrew Moore

The Current Situation

The history of Las Vegas has been a long series of booms separated by difficult times, often due to issues not directly related to the casinos. Recent figures show that Las Vegas is attracting more young, first-time visitors than ever before. However, the research also suggests that they are spending less time gambling.

The city has bounced back from the recession of a few years ago, posting a record number of 43 million visitors in 2016. In terms of American gamblers, the fact that gambling is illegal in most of the country means that they need to go to somewhere like Nevada or New Jersey to place some bets anyway.

Gambling in Macau makes up an estimated 40% of the region’s GDP. In fact, this is the biggest gambling centre on Earth, far ahead of even Las Vegas in terms of revenue generated. The number of visitors grew from just over 9 million in 2000 to some 25 million by 2007 but has stagnated in recent years.

Revenue from Macau casinos had fallen in recent years before surging again in 2017. This variance is put down to economic issues and a crackdown on corruption. In fact, online gambling is illegal in China, so to play in a casino legally the Chinese need to go to Macau. As with Las Vegas, online casinos aren’t as much of a direct rival to land casinos as you might imagine.

Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco © Dennis Jarvis

As for Monaco, the introduction of gambling was key to making this one of Europe’s most affluent regions. The principality’s unique reputation as a luxury gambling destination visited by relatively few people means that it is unlikely to be too severely affected by online casinos.

In all three cases, online casinos appear to have had less effect on these regions than other economic issues. It appears that land casinos and their online equivalents can exist side by side after all.

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