Casino tourism is a phenomenon that sees people travel to different parts of the world to try out the available casinos. It combines standard holiday travel with the specific goal of seeking out local gaming attractions.
Some people who engage in casino tourism do so in the hopes of claiming jackpots, while others just love the excitement of the games. Casino tourism can be seen as one of many consequences of the emergence of gaming as a powerful economic force.
To some extent, it is nothing new, as people have been visiting Las Vegas to play at its casinos for nearly a century now. The difference is that more places are now building casinos to capitalise on it, expanding its reach.
What Effect Does Casino Tourism Have on an Area?
Casinos’ biggest effect on an area is that they usually increase the number of people visiting it. That, in turn, has an impact on the local economy, and that impact can be spectacular.
This was demonstrated back in the 1930s with the construction of Las Vegas in the desert of Nevada. The decision by that economically depressed area to make casino gaming legal and build a resort dedicated to it transformed its monetary fortunes.
The creation of the Las Vegas casinos boosted the revenue coming into the Nevada economy, as visitors spent money at them, rented hotel rooms and bought food and drinks, and provided careers in gaming industry for unemployed people within the resort. The change in fortunes for the area was so remarkable that, if anything, it is astonishing that the idea of casino tourism did not catch on more widely until the modern era.
It has taken the rise of online casinos to make the potential clear. Within the next five years, the profits for the online gaming industry are forecast to reach more than $153 billion a year.
People visit sites like Jackpotjoy in their millions, and they offer everything from guidance on how to play bingo and other games to brilliant bonuses, as well as the actual games. Land-based casino options like casinos cannot compete with all of that, but they can tempt fans of the online version with the chance of playing in far-flung locations.
That is enough to draw more than 40 million people to Las Vegas each year, so it is easy to see why other places would want to grab a piece of the action. One country that has sought to capitalise on it is Australia.
The heart of casino tourism in Australia is the Gold Coast, which is now home to several large gaming venues. They were built with the purpose of drawing in Asian gamblers.
These are wealthy, high-stakes players who had previously travelled to Macau’s luxury casinos but were looking for an alternative after the Chinese government began to crack down on that resort.
It has certainly brought changes to this area of Australia. The casinos there have attracted around 10 million tourists since being launched.
While obvious economic benefits exist, the Gold Coast was already a prosperous part of Australia and one popular with holidaymakers. That makes it harder to measure the degree to which people are being drawn there by the casinos as well as the overall economic effect of them.
Such factors are easier to determine when smaller and poorer places like Cambodia and the Baltic countries Lithuania and Latvia opt to build casinos as an attraction for tourists. The gaming market is booming in those countries. The Cambodian government even opted to tighten regulations around the industry to prioritise large casino resorts instead of lots of smaller casinos.
Evidence suggests that the economies of areas with casinos benefit more if they are concentrated in spots with other tourist attractions and hospitality businesses because players frequent these in between their gaming. By contrast, areas with casinos but few other tourist amenities do not experience the same economic uplift.
Do They Increase Value?
This means that building a casino on its own will not increase the monetary or land value of the area in question. It must be part of a wider tourist offering to achieve that, but there is clear data to suggest that the presence of a casino encourages tourists to spend money if there are things for them to spend it on.
Of course, it is possible that the presence of increased numbers of people can make areas with casinos and other tourist attractions more difficult for residents. Noise is one factor that could contribute to that.
Therefore impacts of this sort on existing residents must be balanced against the positive effects on local and national economies. From Vegas in the 1930s to Australia, Cambodia and the Baltic regions now, countries and cities are reaping the tourist benefits of building casinos.
Whether the continued rise of online gaming brings an end to the casino tourist boom or encourages fans to travel in search of exotic casino thrills remains a big unanswered question.
Casino tourism can turn an area into a nightlife hotspot if other forms of entertainment and hospitality balance casino gaming. That brings real economic benefits.