Casinos in Asia

This image shows the entrance of the Venetian casino taken on May 9, 2008 in Macau.

Casinos in Asia lagged behind their counterparts in the west for many years, but these days the continent is home to some of the most luxurious and extravagant hotel and casino resorts in the world.

In recent years a number of Asian countries have eased restrictions on casinos. Singapore, for example, ended a 40-year ban by allowing the construction of two casino resorts at a cost of $3 billion, targeting overseas tourists.

The resorts will be built by Las Vegas Sands – which built the Sands Macau and The Venetian Macua – and Genting International of Malaysia.

At the time, Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, told his country’s parliament: “The whole region is on the move. If we don't change, where will we be in 20 years?"

Hotel and casino resorts are a huge attraction for Asian governments, considering the tax revenues, job creation and influx of foreign currency promised by the arrival of high-spending tourists.

Macau has enjoyed considerable success in trying to establish itself as a genuine rival to Las Vegas as a gambling destination, and the Macua Peninsula’s Cotai Strip is earning rave reviews from across the world.

Other Asian countries cannot fail to appreciate the rise of this formerly sleepy Portuguese colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1999, and countries such as Thailand, Japan and Indonesia are sure to follow suit.

However, a number of social and religious groups across Asia are still extremely anti-casinos and organised gambling in general – some for moral and others for practical reasons.

But people still find a way to gamble: despite a ban on gambling in Thailand, many people pay visits to the border casinos in Cambodia and Myanmar.

Singapore’s gamblers, meanwhile, have for many years frequented the Casino de Genting in Malaysia’s Genting Highlands.

Following the rise of Macau, the Chinese have really taken to casinos. As a nation, they have always had a penchant for games and gamblings, and they are fast earning a reputation as the world’s highest rollers (a reputation held for long periods by the Japanese).