The end of gambling tourism?

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Gambling is an ancient distraction that has developed over time into a multi-billion dollar global industry that benefits countries all over the world. Alongside the increased tax revenues and additional jobs created within both physical and online gambling companies, casinos and gaming resorts influence the global tourism industry massively, with many people planning their holiday around gambling. Cities like Las Vegas, Macau and Monte Carlo are world famous for attracting millions of visitors who make gambling pilgrimages, dropping billions of dollars each year at the gaming tables. Although it seems like ‘gambling tourism’ will continue to make money for a long time to come, there are some threats out there that could change everything.

Although it may seem that there is still a lot of investment in places like Las Vegas and Macau, with new hotels, resorts and even a brand new city centre being built in Las Vegas to satiate growing numbers of tourists, then real question is whether these new visitors or going there for the gambling, or if they want to experience everything else on offer instead. Las Vegas has also become a business and conference hub, with thousands of global firms taking advantage of the endless hotel rooms and 5 star service. This could also be a false indicator to growth in gaming tourism in Nevada.

Names like Caesar’s Palace, the Venetian and the MGM Grand are almost household names across the world, synonymous with a trip to Las Vegas and the chance to make some money at the gaming tables. Las Vegas has long been a gambling Mecca, with the major casinos making incredible sums of money year after year. Casinos there are gigantic, sprawling complexes with thousands of different games, as well as slot machines and other side games designed to catch attention. Although the experience in Las Vegas is something else, with world class entertainment, excellent food and perfect weather year round, there is a common theme; it’s very expensive to go there. Even though it’s hard to emulate the atmosphere and style of a Vegas slot hall, great online casino operators such as 777 casino offer a pretty accurate representation of these classic machines that provide a great nostalgic feel all the way from the glorious fifties.

The same can be said for places like Macau, Singapore and the French Riviera. Getting there in the first place has a cost, as does booking a hotel room and paying for food and drinks during your stay. The reality for many is that trips like this are too expensive to justify, with the cost outweighing the fun element in some cases. It is clear that the traditional ‘physical’ casino isn’t even close to the 10-11% growth seen by online gambling and some traditional industry sub-sections such as arcades are even experiencing a decline in customers.

This trend can also be applied on a local scale. Visiting a city centre casino in the UK for example can be an expensive and often stressful affair. If you plan on relaxing and having a drink, you’ll need to book a taxi or take public transport. Then you may need to pay an entry fee or register as a member, before paying over the odds for food and drinks once you’re inside. Apart from having to deal with other gamblers and negotiate potentially busy gaming floors, the games themselves will certainly have poor odds compares to online games as land based casinos will need to cover expensive overheads. The reality for a lot of people is that they would rather stay at home.

This is where online gaming companies can really change gambling tourism. Instead of forking out huge amounts of cash to be on more customers to a physical casino, gaming companies can bring the casino to their customers with technology advancements, improved game quality and immersion as well as clever branding and attractive themes. Many will argue that visiting somewhere like Las Vegas is all about the ‘whole package’ and not just the gambling, but websites are getting closer to providing the same experience at home. Slot gaming for example is huge in Nevada, with many gaming parlours and casinos offering the nostalgia of classic 50s slot machines that many experienced players grew up with.

As the online experience is constantly improving, it could mean that gamblers may opt to spend their money on something a bit more accessible. Developments like virtual reality could be the final straw for gambling tourists, who could easily sit and play a game of poker in a virtual Caesar’s Palace without having to pay the expensive room rates. There will however always be the ‘die hard’ gambling fans who will never agree that the online experience is the same, but whether this will spell growth for physical casinos remains to be seen.

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