Though it can be easy to think of the United States as the top gambling destination in the world (after all, for a long time, Vegas was the place to gamble), the world has come a long way since the 1930s, and the world now abounds with many gambling destinations that the savvy gambler will find worth a visit.
While gambling is still illegal in many parts of the world, legal gambling can be found on just about every continent. And while just about everyone in the world knows about Las Vegas and Macau, you’d probably be blown away to learn how many different awesome gambling destinations there are in the world.
Here are some of the top gambling destinations in the world that aren’t Vegas or Macau (and why you should visit them).
1- Paris, France
Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
First of all, I will say that if all you speak is English, you can generally get by just fine in Paris as many of the natives speak at least a little English, though it helps to download a translation app on your phone.
What I think I like about the casinos in Paris that you’re just not going to find at other casinos around the world is literally the fact that the casinos are in Paris. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I think this is something that many hardcore gamblers don’t consider—the location and what’s going on outside the casino.
Now yes, we all get that there are a certain breed of gamblers who are solely going to a hotel and casino for the gambling experience and doesn’t plan on leaving, but the vast majority of people are there for a lot more than just gambling.
There’s a reason casinos generally don’t have windows, keep clocks off the walls, give you free drinks, have hotels connected to the casino, make the casinos into difficult-to-navigate mazes, and all the rest—they want you to stay inside and gamble! But for most folks, getting out and getting a breath of fresh air is critical. Not only that, but most folks just want to get outside, get some exercise, and see some sights.
The problem comes when you go sightseeing in Macau or Vegas. Sure, they’re nice in their way, but most of the “sights” are just more casinos, more big, gaudy buildings that have been built very recently, and not much in the way of true history.
Okay, I’ll walk that back a bit and admit that Vegas does have a lot of interesting little museums that explore the history of the place, and I’ll also admit that Macau has a much longer and richer history that goes far beyond just the casinos, but let’s face it—these places are so big that it’s hard for people to get out and take a look.
That’s why I love Paris as a gambling destination. Many of the casinos (as I’m sure anyone who has been to Paris can imagine) are quite small. The Europeans don’t do the everything is bigger thing that Americans love so much. Some of these casinos have maybe 5 poker tables!
For some people, I can see how this is a drawback—you want to gamble in a place that has lots of action, lots of drama, lots of excitement and goings on. And if that’s your thing, Vegas or Macau is the place to be.
If you love long lines and big crowds, sure, check out Vegas and Macau.
If you love being packed like a sardine into every casino you visit and having to wait forever just to hit the tables, sure, be my guest, go to Vegas or Macau—no judgement.
But if you want something that’s more laid back, that’s more easy going, and that’s set in the middle of one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in the world, a place where you can take a break from the gambling to tour the Louvre, or to ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or visit the Arc de Triomphe or check out a dozen other amazing, incredible monuments or events, Paris is the place to go.
But let’s say France isn’t your bag (and for a lot of people, it’s not). Where else can you get your gambling fix that’s not Vegas or Macau?
If you’ve never been to Aruba, you need to go, especially if you live in the United States. The flight out to this little Caribbean island and former Dutch colony is relatively short, the cost of most of the hotels and food is relatively cheap, and the gambling is high quality.
The fact is that Aruba depends heavily on tourism to make its money. The majority of the residents work in the tourism business in some way, and they understand that it’s critical to make all visitors feel safe and welcome from the moment they get there to the moment they leave.
Now getting off the plane in Aruba can be a bit intimidating as there will be a huge crowd of taxi drivers trying desperately to get you to take their taxi, rent their car, and let them take care of your bags for you. To be honest, I believe that these guys are completely trustworthy—they’re not going to rip you off—they’re just going to overcharge you is all. It’s best to book a car in advance.
The island is multilingual, so you’ll find people speaking English in addition to Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Papiamento. Most people will speak English to you with no problem (and the same goes for Spanish), so that’s one of the big benefits of going there—no language barrier.
Now once you get your car and make your way to your hotel, you’re going to immediately see why I recommend Aruba for real money gambling—it’s not the casinos (which are great by the way): it’s the beaches!
I don’t know about you, but most people I know don’t want to gamble until they drop when they’re on vacation. They want to be able to relax and take it easy (at least for a little bit!), and Aruba is all about that island lifestyle.
The beaches are just beautiful and absolutely worth checking out while you’re there. The sand is soft and nice to lay on, and the water is usually the perfect temperature for swimming.
Another big bonus is that, because you’re on an island, everything is extremely close together. Getting from one hotel to the next (or one restaurant to the next, or one beach to the next) takes very little time. In fact, the island is so small that you can pretty much drive around the entire island in about 2 hours!
And when you’re talking about Aruba, you have to mention the food. First of all, avoid the restaurants in the hotels and casinos if you can. They tend to be way overpriced and are pretty much ready to milk you dry. The size of the island also goes in your favor here. You can easily drive a small distance and find something off the beaten path.
There are a number of incredible seafood restaurants in Aruba that have excellent prices and fresh fish literally caught that day. You absolutely have to make it out to one of these places while you’re there. While you’ll certainly be able to get some good gambling done, and while the food in the casinos is high-quality too, getting out and seeing the rest of the island is a must.
Some of these trips will take you on a party boat, serve you alcohol and food, and then allow you to snorkel through shipwrecks! If that’s not a good time, I don’t know what is.
And though it is an island, there’s still a large desert region that you can visit if you don’t mind riding a four-wheeler around, and there are also a few high points that aren’t quite mountains but aren’t quite hills either, and if you’re in the climbing/hiking mood, you can certainly make it out there as well.
While there are places to gamble all over the world, these are two of my absolute favorite destinations to recommend to people because they’re so off the beaten gambling path, so unexpected, and so fun. You’ll get great food, exercise, and cultural experiences in addition to getting your gambling fix.
What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path gambling destination? Let me know in the comments!