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Asia’s Biggest Emerging Tourist Draw Isn’t the One You Think

Asia’s Biggest Emerging Tourist Draw Isn’t the One You Think

It might seem hard to believe, but casinos in Asia generated more than $600 million in 2015. This number will balloon even higher in the coming years, with more countries joining in on casino construction, and as the popularity of casino tourism among Chinese travelers continues to grow.

Below, you’ll find an article that discusses both the history of this fascinating topic, as well as some ideas about how casinos might shape the future of tourism in Asia.

An Overview of Casinos in Hong Kong

Gambling has been legal in China’s special administrative region since 1977, when Hong Kong’s government enacted laws to permit betting for leisure. Since then, horse racing tracks and casinos have become the most popular means of gambling across the territory.

As far as casinos are concerned, Holland America Cruise Line Volendam in Kowloon is the largest one in Hong Kong, housing 72 casino games and 8 table games, as well as video poker. When it comes to horse race betting, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is the only government-licensed operator.

Experts believe that more than 80% of Hong Kong’s adult population in Hong Kong has indulged in some form of gambling, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that it only became legal there 40 years ago.

Macau Leads in Casinos

Hong Kong’s western neighbor Macau is currently the “Gambling Capital of the World,” but that’s not entirely surprising when you learn its history. After all, gambling has been legal in Macau since the 1850s, when the Portuguese ruled over the territory.

Gambling revenues in Macau peaked in 2013, when casinos in the territory generated around $45 billion. This dropped to $29 billion in 2015, but rebounded to $38 billion in 2016, mostly due to a surge in the popularity of Texas Hold’em Poker in the 38 casinos that operate in Macau. In November 2016 alone there was a 14% increase in Macau’s gambling revenue, which means that 2017 numbers should be even more impressive. 

As is the case in Hong Kong, a high number of Macau’s casino tourists come from mainland China. Interestingly, some Hong Kong residents actually take the ferry to Macau to enjoy even more impressive gambling than they can at home.

Emerging Casino Opportunities in Asia

Apart from Hong Kong and Macau, Singapore is an emerging leader in gambling revenues, with casinos such as Las Vegas Sands and Marina Bay Sands having generated more than $5 billion in revenues in 2015. Even conservative Japan has benefitted from a spurt in gambling and casino operations—the Japanese government removed its ban on gambling just last year.

In addition to these physical casinos, online casinos are gaining popularity among Asians. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to find out which ones are genuine. Trusted resources such as compare and review bonuses, security features and more, and can aid you in making your decision of where to play online casino games.

The Bottom Line

With growing number of tourists from China, casinos all around Asia are set to boost local economies. From traditional gambling hot spots like Hong Kong and Macau, to emerging casino destinations like Singapore and even Japan, it’s difficult to understate the impact of gambling on tourism across Asia.


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