The Potential Economic Benefits of Casino Tourism: How Casinos impact the Economic Growth of their Host Cities


    Casino tourism has become one of the leading attractions for tourists who desire entertainment, as well as the thrill that accompanies winning money while playing their favorite game. The heart-racing and loud cheering moments that a casino offers are second to none, and there is no wonder why casino tourism remains on the priority list of many gamblers from all around the world.

    For some gamblers, casino tourism also serves as an opportunity to discover new casino games, visit heritage sites in the host cities, as well as get lost in the wonders of nature in a newer environment.

    However, as casino games move from being a popular pastime to becoming a tourist attraction in many cities with more land based casinos and riverboat casinos springing up, there remains the important question of whether or not casinos offer real economic benefits to their host cities, and if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    Discover some of the most important impacts casino tourism has had in its host cities, as well as the economic benefits versus the social costs of gambling.

    Casino Tourism and Economic Development

    Casino and the online gambling sector were valued at a whopping 747.9 Billion dollars worldwide in 2022, with a projection for an increase in the following years. The quantum leap experienced by the gambling industry in the last three decades can be attributed to the legalization of this venture across different nations of the world.

    With an increase in employment rate, a welcome spike in tax revenue to local and state governments, and higher patronage of local businesses, casino tourism has opened up host cities to a flurry of financial activities that have been mostly beneficial. This is, perhaps, the reason why casino tourism may become yet more popular in the coming years.

    Benefits of Legalized Gambling

    Here are detailed explanations of how host cities stand to gain from casino tourism:

    Increase in Employment

    Local workers are often one of the earliest beneficiaries of casino tourism in any city. With an immediate demand for labor for roles such as security, customer service, dealers, accountants, slot attendants, and so on, local workers who meet the requirement for these roles are automatically considered a priority. This ultimately leads to a lower unemployment rate in the host city.

    A surge in Tax Revenues

    Casino tourists are often obliged to spend money outside the walls of the casino. In their purchase of local food and drinks, souvenirs peculiar to the host city, indulgence in other pastime activities such as drinking in bars and dancing in clubs, tourists contribute their quota to the state’s coffers. In addition to this, casino tourism also increases casino taxes to state and local governments by bringing other businesses along with it.

    A thriving casino environment is known for its proximity to restaurants, theme parks, gas stations, and so on. Hence, as these business ventures spring up, courtesy of the casino, they provide more avenues for tax generation for both the local and state government.

    Finally, before launching operation, casinos are required to pay an application fee to the gaming commission in most cities. In Singapore, for example, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), a statutory board in the Ministry of Home Affairs, is responsible for the issuance of gaming licenses. These licenses attract the application fee of 1,100 SGD, in addition to the yearly operation fee for running a casino in Singapore. Another example is the Indian gaming regulatory act that regulates the activities of tribal casinos in the United States. These regulatory bodies generate more tax revenues through these statutory fees.

    Support for Local Businesses

    Another important gambling benefit that comes with casino tourism is increased patronage for local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, resorts, bars, and so on. As more tourists flock to the city in search of an original casino experience, there is an increased need for the services offered by the hospitality sector. This automatically leads to more patronage for these local businesses, and as their businesses grow, a better chance at employing more locals. Finally, more patronage for local businesses also leads to increased retail tax revenues as a benefit for the host city.

    Boost in Property Value      

    A consistent trend among tourist centers across the world is a boost in property value for the local community. With more tourists interested in casino tourism in a particular city, the value of local properties increases significantly. A good example, in this case, is Las Vegas, a city that has experienced an upward trend in property value, thanks to casino tourism. The Atlantic city casinos have also led to a boost in the property value in that city.

    Negative Economic Impacts

    Although host cities are often greeted with countless positive impacts of casino tourism, there are often a handful of negative impacts as well. For example, with increased traffic into the host cities comes a higher maintenance cost for public facilities such as sewers, roads, and so on. In addition, host cities often encounter higher costs for crime prevention as more foreigners patronize the commercial casinos as well as other facilities.

    Even though the benefits to host cities outweigh the costs in most cases, unsuccessful management of these issues can lead to greater challenges such as a breakdown of law and order, compulsive gambling, and negative branding of host cities in the international spotlight.

    Finally, the problem of an increased number of pathological and problem gamblers who run into bad gambling debt is a significant negative economic impact associated with this trend. This puts these pathological gamblers at the risk of an incurable gambling addiction, bad credit score, and in some cases, depression.

    Casino Gambling: What the Future Holds

    While more countries across the world are gradually welcoming the casino gaming industry, some countries retain the stand of declaring all gambling activities illegal. However, this does not deter the citizens in these countries from seeking international opportunities where their gambling skills can be utilized to discover and win in new casino games. This situation creates increased border market activities with more gamblers exploring options in casino tourism.

    The realities stated above do not only prove the continuing relationship between casino and tourism, it further establishes a persisting trend between the two ideas. Furthermore, the ensuing economic benefits of the casino industry and casino tourism serve as an incentive for host cities. In the long run, this may serve as the reason for further legalization of casino gambling in countries where gambling remains illegal.

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