By Darren Griffiths

Top 9 Casino/Gambling Destinations in Asia

15th May 2024

Gambling has been a part of Asian culture for thousands of years. While it remains popular amongst natives, it has steadily become more tourist-orientated in recent years – particularly in countries like South Korea. 

In this guide, we’ll identify the continent’s best gambling hotspots. From places you might not expect like Malaysia to famous casino hubs like Macau.

1. Singapore 

If you want to gamble with some high-rollers, you need to pay a visit to Singapore. Being a financial capital, Singapore is very popular amongst traveling gamblers. The country’s casinos are normally filled with bankers, company owners, and other wealthy figures. 

To give tourists easy access to casinos, many of the major hotels in the country come with gambling facilities – most notably, the Marina Bay Sands. This is not only a popular hotel but is also South-East Asia’s largest casino complex and a national landmark. 

Here, you can combine your casino experience with Michelin-starred dining experiences and high-end shopping. It contains over 15,000 square meters of gaming space across four levels, 1,500 slots, and 600 table games. 

Gambling in Singapore has come a long way in the last 20 years, especially given that it was only legalized in 2005! 

2. Malaysia 

Malaysia’s gambling scene is contained in one super venue – the Genting Highlands. The venue boasts two casinos and a total of 3,500 slots. Gambling has technically been legal in the country since 1953, and both tourists and non-Muslim Malaysians can enjoy the Genting Highlands today. 

Aside from its sprawling casinos, the Genting Highlands is also home to a hotel and spa. 

Despite the popularity of the resort, laws around online gambling remain somewhat unclear throughout the country. The only online casino in Malaysia that you’ll be able to access is one based overseas – licenced in the likes of Curacao. At these sites, you can play blackjack, poker, and other table games on your phone, computer, or any other device. 

3. Macau 

It’s impossible to write this article without mentioning the “Las Vegas of Asia”, Macau. This autonomous region consists of several islands and is located off the south coast of China. It can be reached via a 15-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong. As you approach Macau, you’ll immediately understand where it gets its nickname – its beautiful skyline consists of several high-rise casinos. 

The region has been home to legalized gambling since 1849 but was formally limited to Chinese-style gambling games. This all changed in the early 2000s when worldwide casinos were permitted to open American-style venues. 

In 2007, Macau overtook Las Vegas as the biggest gambling destination in the world in terms of revenue. Today, it features major casinos such as the MGM Casino, Lisboa Casino, and Wynn Casino Macau. You can also find the Venetian Macao here, which is the biggest casino in the whole of Asia! 

In 2024, Macau still makes more money than Las Vegas. According to FinanceAsia, Macau’s gross gaming revenue reached $22.3 billion in 2023.

4. The Philippines 

If you’re looking for a slightly more budget-friendly gambling destination in Asia, consider the Philippines. The country boasts 20 casinos and you can find most in the capital city of Manila and Cebu City

Unlike Macau, American companies are yet to open their own casinos in Manila. However, you can find plenty of locally-owned casinos and some international casino brands in the city. For example, you have the Okada Malina, which is Japanese-owned. 

Despite the lack of American casinos, most gaming facilities in the Philippines offer blackjack, poker, roulette, and a range of slot machines. 

Casinos were first introduced to the country in 1976 to boost tourism. While the open casinos today were built for tourists, many locals also use them for entertainment. 

The Philippean casino scene is set to grow in the coming years. It was recently announced that a selection of foreign and local casino firms were set to invest $6 billion into the sector

5. Vietnam 

Another country that is relatively new to gambling is Vietnam, which first legalized gambling for tourists in 2017. Since then, a total of eight casinos have been added to some of the country’s luxury resorts. However, these casinos are only accessible to those who hold an international passport. 

Despite this, Vietnam’s casinos showcase several Vietnamese-style gambling games, on top of supporting other internationally recognizable games too. At these casinos, you can play poker, roulette, and blackjack, and also some local favorites, such as Tiến lên and Tú Lơ Khơ. 

The biggest casino in the country is the Grand Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam, which boasts 614 gaming machines and 90 table games. You can find most of the other casinos around the cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Typically, these casinos come with a range of luxurious amenities, including bars, lounges, restaurants, and even spas and baths. 

6. South Korea 

Like in Vietnam, South Korea is a hotspot for casinos – even though South Korean nationals are unable to legally partake in gambling. The major casinos that you can find in such cities as Busan are open only to tourists. Busan’s largest casino is Paradise Casino, which is definitely worth stopping by while out enjoying the vibrant nightlife. 

However, if you’d like a true South Korean casino experience, you need to visit Kangwon Land Casino, which is located in Gangwon Province. This is the only casino in the country that permits South Koreans to play. This casino is home to an impressive range of games, including 1,360 slots and 200 gaming tables. 

South Korean casinos are notable for integrating local games such as Godori with Las Vegas-style games such as blackjack. 

7. Cambodia 

Another tourist-only gambling destination, Cambodia boasts fantastic gambling facilities in highly scenic locations. While Cambodian nationals cannot gamble at Cambodian casinos, the country does welcome nationals from neighboring countries – as long as they have an international passport. 

So, these casinos are normally busy with Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai guests, and gamblers from other countries that have strict gambling measures in place. Because of this market, you can find plenty of casinos near the Cambodian border. Otherwise, you can find casinos in the coastal city of Sihanoukville or the capital city of Phnom Penh. 

It’s in the capital that you can find the country’s biggest and most well-known casino, NagaWorld Integrated Resort. Here, you can play several classic Asian casino games, including Tai Sai, Ngau Ham, and Bai Buu – each of which has long been popular gambling games in Cambodia and Vietnam. 

8. Nepal 

Although not widely known as a go-to casino destination, Nepal does have some luxurious casinos as part of its resorts. Casinos have been legal in Nepal since the passing of the Casino Act 1968. However, there has been a wide range of restrictions imposed on the country’s casinos. 

As of 2013, only five-star hotels are permitted to operate gambling venues. For this reason, you have to visit one of the country’s luxurious hotels to play casino games. 

One of these hotels is the Millionaire’s Club, which is part of the Hotel Shangri-La in the capital city of Kathmandu. This venue has a total of 40 gaming machines as well as 22 tables. While it may not be as sprawling as the other casinos mentioned in this guide, it is still worth visiting for its intimate gaming, ambiance, and entertainment. 

9. Japan 

Japan is not currently a top gambling destination in Asia, but it looks like it soon might be. 

Gambling had long been banned in Japan up until 2018. In July of that year, lawmakers passed a bill that permitted casinos to be opened for the first time in the country. This move was made to boost tourism and create jobs (Although, online gambling is still only available offshore in the country). 

It was also announced in 2018 that three integrated resorts would be established in the future. 

The first casino set to open in Japan received planning permission in 2023 and will open in Osaka in 2029. The initial investment of the project is the equivalent of $13.5 billion and the complex is set to also include a shopping mall and museum. Both MGM and Japan’s Orix Group have a stake in the project. 

Given the huge investment and the fact it is targeted at tourism, Japan could soon become another one of Asia’s top casino and gambling destinations. 

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