There are an estimated 1,719 gaming properties in the United States, including casinos, horse tracks, dog tracks, resorts and cruise ships. The highest concentration of them, some 378 venues, can be found in the state of Nevada, and of those nearly half are concentrated in Las Vegas and its immediate vicinity, along with attendant dining, shopping, accommodations, stage shows and recreational activities. As a result, the high desert oasis has been dubbed the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”
But America is not the only country with a hub for gambling, partying and adult fun. South of the border, Mexico has several resort destinations with casinos and a festive, carefree atmosphere, including Acapulco and Monterrey. In recent years, Cancun has emerged as the top tourist complex in the country, with its luxury hotels, fabulous restaurants, swinging discotheques and such storied gaming venues as the Playboy Club Cancun and the Dubai Palace Casino.
Up north, neighboring Canada has its playful side, too. It is home to some 159 gaming properties, with 47 spread around British Columbia alone. The country’s closest equivalent to Las Vegas, perhaps, is in Alberta Province, where Calgary boasts of seven casinos, a Vegas-like cowboy culture, no provincial sales tax and a burgeoning Entertainment District downtown.
Hot Spots in Europe
With over 400 separate gaming properties, the United Kingdom has long had the highest concentration of gambling venues east of the Atlantic. Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester each offer more than a handful of places to enjoy table games and slots. But for dining, shopping, hotels, live shows and entertainment of all sorts, plus 28 casinos and innumerable bookmaking shops, no city can top London, which recently showed its fun side to the world in hosting the 2012 Olympics.
On the Continent, Monte Carlo still reigns as Europe’s playground. Opulent hotels, superb cuisine, grand events and five remarkable casinos await the gathering of glitterati and holidaymakers year round. But it is no longer the only place to frolic. France has Cannes with its own resorts and four casinos facing the French Riviera, while Spain has developed Palma de Mallorca on the island of Majorca with five-star hotels, some of the Mediterranean’s best beaches and no fewer than nine gaming sites operated by Merkur.
In Italy, birthplace of the Ridotto—the world’s very first legal casino, established in 1638—Venice is still the magnet for sightseers and honeymooners, offering three lavish locations to play slots and table games. Germany with its 320 gaming properties combines business with pleasure in cities like Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin. And in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the hot spot for adult amusement and Las Vegas-style casino action.
On the other hand, Europe’s truly exciting growth in gaming and entertainment in recent years has been in the old Eastern Bloc countries. Bucharest, the capital of Romania, now counts 19 casinos among its attractions; Bratislava in Slovakia has seven; Prague now claims more than two dozen of the Czech Republic’s 105 gaming properties; and Croatia has eleven casinos in Zagreb.
Elsewhere in the World
In Australia, there are at least 425 gambling venues, including horseracing clubs as well as modern casinos. The Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, is the leading resort area down under, and of course there is Las Vegas-style entertainment. Examples include the 65,000-square-foot gaming space at Jupiters Hotel & Casino and the 2,658 gaming machines and 87 table and poker games of the Treasury Casino & Hotel.
South Africa has Sun City. The Middle East has the Sinai’s Sharm El Sheikh. The Caribbean, however, is like one big resort. From Palm Beach in Aruba and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to San Juan, Puerto Rico and more, the gaming is just like that found in La Vegas—with the added benefit of beautiful, sandy beaches and warm, blue waters nearby.
Central and South America are beginning to discover their spirit of Vegas-style adventure in such hidden treasures as Posadas, Argentina with its half dozen riverside casinos and the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru, which now has Bellagio and Tropicana casinos of its own. Panama, of course, is rich with gaming venues—some 38 of them at last count—and Panama City is the epicenter of Canal Zone entertainment.
Last but not least is Asia, where Macau has stolen the crown as the “Gaming Capital of World.” Its resorts are Las Vegas on steroids—bigger, newer and more profitable. But other Asian nations have their own Vegas-ish resort getaways, too, from Singapore’s Sentosa Island and the Philippines’ Subic Bay to India’s tourist refuge at Goa and Malaysia’s famed Genting Highlands. Clearly, what happens in Vegas now happens almost everywhere.