We all need to get away. And if you’re like me, you want to go to one of the world’s top gambling cities, a place where legal gaming tops the menu. Casinos make great bases out of which to vacation. Of course, there is the clang of slot machines, the tumble of dice and the divvying of cards at the blackjack table. 

Just as importantly, though, when you are in a great casino there is so much to do. The world’s best casinos function as self-contained hotspots. 

They come complete with top-notch restaurants, luxurious spas, round-the-clock room service, usually a fabulous swimming pool and some iteration of top-flight entertainment. Then, of course, there is the gambling and the fact that casinos tend to be located in cool cities.

Wishing you pleasant travels, here is a list of the five greatest gambling cities in the world and why you should visit them. 


Las Vegas, situated on the edge of America’s Mojave Desert, has long reigned as the king of gambling locales. 

Taking into account the number of casinos there, it ranks as the biggest casino city in the world. Las Vegas has more than 170 casinos and over 90 casino hotels – that is, places to stay where gambling is on offer. It’s also a place with different gambling neighborhoods to accommodate the budgets and lifestyles of visitors. 

Everywhere features non-stop games and great sports betting. The sports books all have giant TVs and comfy seats that make it a pleasure to hang out and watch the basketball or football or whatever-kind-of-ball unfold with wagers that make it all the more exciting.

Most famously, there is the Vegas Strip, with the fanciest hotels, highest stakes gambling and best-known restaurants. Top places to stay at on the Strip include Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan and Fontainebleau.  

Fontainebleau is the newest, it boasts terrific restaurants such as Mother Wolf and Papi Steak, a private club on the top floor and a cool nightclub called Liv. 

Bellagio has the famous fountains, its own clutch of great dining spots and a poker room where pros like to play. Cosmopolitan skews a little younger and splashier with the semi-private Talon Club for high rollers. 

Created by taste-maker Steve Wynn, Wynn Las Vegas is known for posh accommodations, mega high limits, a poker room of its own and great entertainment with resident performers like the magician David Blaine. 

A more suburban experience is to be had in the neighborhood known as Summerlin, where Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa rules the roost. It’s a Strip-quality casino with easy access to hiking and more rural explorations. 

Downtown Vegas is an older precinct where the best place, for my money, is Circa. A great feature there is Stadium Swim, a pool that never closes, which essentially functions as an outdoor sports book with games being shown on a giant screen. Barry’s Downtown Prime is a phenomenal, subterranean steakhouse and Saginaw’s Delicatessen serves the best pastrami in town.

If you love gambling, Las Vegas is a place that you must visit.


A ferry ride away from Hong Kong, Macau is often referred to as Las Vegas of the East. The name is justified, considering that Macau is the biggest gambling city in Asia.

In fact, in terms of gambling revenue, it often outshines Las Vegas. There are 24 casinos on Macau Peninsula, which is the original gambling hub there, and 17 in a second gambling ‘hood, referred to as the Cotai Strip. 

Visitors to Vegas will recognize familiar names in Macau. The city boasts outposts of Wynn, MGM Grand and Venetian. 

Similar to what is found in Las Vegas, Macau’s joints offer 24/7 action on the casino floor and all the sports betting you can desire. 

Native casinos include the old school Lisboa, Macau Palace (on the water, it  is often described as a “floating casino”) and City of Dreams with its Michelin-starred restaurants, four hotels and high-energy vibe.

One thing unique to Macau is the overriding love of playing baccarat. That game rules in the casinos. It’s not unusual for baccarat tables to roll out for as far as the eye can see.

When visiting Macau, make like a local, sip from a glass of milky tea and buy into a game of baccarat. From there, your only decision will be whether you should wager on the banker or player.

Monte Carlo casino gambling
Monte Carlo


If you’ve seen the James Bond movies “Never Say Never Again” and “Golden Eye,” you would naturally be thirsting for a visit to Monte Carlo. 

Besides being a top gambling destination, it ranks as one of the world’s most luxurious destinations (regardless of the gaming). Yachts crowd the waterfront, Michelin-starred restaurants warrant a visit and the casino gambling experience is as opulent as it gets. The must-play spot there is Casino de Monte Carlo. 

The elite gambling den opened in 1856 and still retains a sense of old-world elegance with high-stakes blackjack, baccarat, craps and roulette among the games of choice. 

One thing unlikely to repeat from the old days: in 1913, the ball in a roulette game is said to have landed on black 26 times in a row. Millions of francs were blown, as bettors wagered on the streak being broken. It finally was, of course, but, by then, the casino had loaded up on winnings. 

If you gamble high enough, angle for a comped room at Hotel de Paris, in close proximity to Casino de Monte Carlo and dripping one-of-a-kind elegance.


Everyone knows that Singapore is a great food city, but it is also one of the top gambling cities in the world. 

Marina Bay Sands there is fantastic for more than gambling, and clearly appeals to players who believe that bigger is better. The largest gambling resort in the world, Marina Bay Sands houses 2,500 rooms, enough swimming pools that you will never get bored of paddling around and an outpost of Universal Studios for the kid in all of us. 

But of course, we are there for the gambling and there is no shortage of that. 

The gaming floor boasts more than 600 table games – including craps, blackjack and baccarat, with every variation and side-bet that you may desire – plus 2,300 slot machines. And when you get hungry from all the action, check out eateries from celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey and Daniel Bolud. 


With all there is to do in the capital city of England, you might not think of casino gambling as being a key attraction. But, in fact, London counts itself among the world’s greatest gambling cities and the place is completely poker crazy. 

There are more than 20 casinos, with the Hippodrome and the Empire, both in Leister Square, ranking among great places for a punt. 

On the other end of things, there are private casinos such as Crockfords (where Kelly Sun and Phil Ivey attempted to pull off their high-flying baccarat play via edge sorting before it all unraveled) and Crown London Aspinalls. They are designed for high rollers and operate on intimate scales.

Whatever you go for, though, you will surely have a blast in one of the world’s hottest casino destinations.

Michael Kaplan is a journalist based in New York City. He has written extensively on gambling for publications such as Wired, Playboy, Cigar Aficionado, New York Post and New York Times. He is the author of four books including Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker’s Greatest Players.

He’s been known to do a bit of gambling when the timing seems right.