5. Atlantic City, US
There are not only dozens of casinos and chances to lose all your money, Atlantic City is packed with nightclubs, excessive behaviour and a 1000-foot-long pier to promenade along and take in views of the iconic coastline.
The Pier Shops at Caesars shopping mall is one of the latest and greatest additions to the distinctive strip. It comes complete with Romanesque décor, the world’s largest indoor water fountain display in a shopping mall and an Apple store, naturally.
4. Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo is a beacon for nouveau riche Euros, and given its proximity to the ‘cultural elite’ (France) it doesn’t match Vegas in the tacky stakes.
Here it’s all about glamour, living the good life and escaping reality. It’s easily done if you own a gold mine. It’s illegal for locals to gamble, but you sure can. When you’re not feeding the slots with coins, join in the national obsessions, following the socialite royal family and gawking at cars parading around the Grand Prix street track.
3. Las Vegas, US
No ode to betting would be complete without including the Mac Daddy of gambling spots. Slap bang in the middle of the Nevada desert you’ll find opportunities to bet for 24 hours straight.
Also find mini replicas of famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, and walk-in chapels in which you can get married by
Elvis lookalikes. Classy it ain’t, but it is one hell of a ride.
4. San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is gambling potty. This small country has more than 30 casinos, many of them in San Jose. They attract savvy American tourists who come to spend less, but get that same Vegas high.
For a minimum spend of 60p ($1 in local currency) you’ll get free drinks while playing in most of the nation’s casinos. Play the local game of ‘rummy’ – it’s blackjack, with a twist. Draw three of the same card when trying to make 21, and you get paid double. Sweet.
5. Macau, China
Forget the new year’s resolutions: do you crave bright lights and 24/7 action? Perhaps you have a penchant for all things glam and extravagant. Or, what really gets you going is Elvis impersonators. Whatever your flavour, the common denominator with the world’s top gambling locations is there’s always the potential of the rush that comes with turning a few little plastic chips into stacks of cold, hard cash. And where there’s casino-level money, there’s a host of interesting and unusual attractions to keep you entertained – no need to gamble at all.
‘Las Vegas of the Orient’ Macau is an excellent place to start. Just off the Chinese mainland, next to Hong Kong, this little island has become a gaming Mecca. They legalised betting here in the 1800s, when the island was colonised by the Portuguese. Sure, it’s got obscene amounts of flashing lights, million dollar jackpots and a seedy nightlife, but this comes with a peculiar mix of modern complexes, beautifully bright Mediterranean-style architecture, cobbled streets and the smell of Chinese delicacies in the air.
In the new Cotai area there’s 420,000 square-feet of betting space and the most bling casinos in town. The mega Hard Rock Hotel, Crown Towers Hotel and the Grand Hyatt Macau each have their own styles of baccarat, blackjack and roulette rooms. As expected, the Hard Rock has all sorts of music memorabilia, such as Michael Jackson’s gloves, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith’s guitars and The Beatles’ relics. The high-end resorts are packed with hordes of Chinese businessmen.
During the day, guests lounge around pools, wander through the historic old town (and visit the 1488-built A-Ma Taoist temple) or shop ‘til they drop. Blow your newly acquired cash on fancy brands (Cartier, Hermes, Dior) at One Central, above the Mandarin Oriental.
Macau also hosts the Formula One circus each year for the island’s Grand Prix – time your trip to catch world-class racers whiz through the streets. Or try the largest bungee jump in the world from Macau tower, and fall 233 metres.