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Casinos of the Future: Which New Global Markets Are Poised to Boom?

The casino industry is constantly evolving as new markets open up worldwide. While well-established gambling hotspots like Las Vegas, Macau, and Monte Carlo continue to thrive, several new emerging markets show tremendous potential to become significant casino destinations in their own right. Here are some of the top emerging casino markets to keep an eye on in 2024:


Japan legalized casino gambling in 2018 but has yet to open any integrated resorts with casinos. That is set to change in the coming years, with significant gambling operators like Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International developing massively integrated resorts in cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka. These multibillion-dollar megaresorts promise to bring thousands of new hotel rooms, convention spaces, restaurants, shops, theaters, and other amenities to accompany their expansive casinos. With a wealthy population of over 126 million people and an established appetite for gambling, Japan may emerge as the second-largest casino market in Asia, behind only Macau.



Brazil legalized casino gambling in 2022 and is now moving quickly to establish integrated resorts, especially in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Major operators like MGM, Caesars Entertainment, and IGT have already won concessions to open casinos in Brazil. With a population of over 212 million and a thriving tourism industry, Brazil is poised to become a significant regional hub for gaming in South America. Developers plan to establish Vegas-style casino resorts to attract high-rollers and leisure travelers.


Vietnam has started allowing Vietnamese citizens to gamble in select casinos as part of a three-year trial program. For decades, casinos there only admitted foreign passport holders. With a population approaching 100 million and a booming economy, Vietnam represents an intriguing new market for casino operators in Southeast Asia. Several multibillion-dollar integrated resorts are already under development across Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Phu Quoc, and Quang Ninh. Vietnam's proximity to significant feeder markets like China and India also helps its potential to draw more visitors.


Greece legalized casino gambling in 2022 and has already granted over 30 licenses for new casinos nationwide. Major destinations like Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete are all expected to see large integrated resorts developed over the next few years. Greece's established tourism infrastructure and reputation as a desirable Mediterranean destination for travelers should allow it to quickly emerge as a recognizable gaming hub in Europe. Operators like Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Hard Rock International are among those developing casinos in Greece.


The Central Asian country of Uzbekistan recently legalized casino gambling and plans to develop several integrated resorts aimed at tourists and wealthy locals from neighboring countries. Operators from Asia and Europe are already scouting locations in cities like Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. With a strategic location along the ancient Silk Road trade route and a relatively untapped market, Uzbekistan has significant potential to become a regional gaming hub. Developers plan to emphasize luxury offerings to attract VIP clients.

While Asia dominates the list of emerging markets, opportunities can also be found across Africa, Latin America, and Europe. Countries that establish sensible regulatory regimes incentivize major operators and play to their geographic strengths stand to benefit the most from the boom in new casinos. From resort hotspots like the Bahamas and Curacao to more unexpected locations like Uzbekistan and Greece, the casino industry will continue expanding globally for years.

Key Factors Driving Emerging Casino Markets

Several key factors are driving more countries and regions to open up to legal casino gambling:

  • Increased tourism - Casinos are now seen as a way to boost tourism, attracting visitors who utilize a destination's hotels, restaurants, theaters, and other attractions. Integrated casino resorts act as economic anchors.
  • Revenue generation - Taxes and fees from casinos can provide substantial new revenue sources for governments, funding infrastructure, social programs, education, and more.
  • Job creation - Casinos generate thousands of direct gaming and indirect hospitality jobs. Jurisdictions with high unemployment are keen to reap these benefits.
  • Prestige - Some areas legalize casinos to raise their international profile and reputation as a "world-class" destination.
  • Competition - Nearby jurisdictions opening casinos can compel others to follow suit to remain competitive as a leisure and tourism spot.
  • Changing social attitudes - In some countries, softening social mores and attitudes toward gambling help drive legalization.
  • Economic liberalization - Emerging markets opening up to foreign investment and free-market enterprise are more likely to allow casinos.
  • Regulatory models - Jurisdictions can now model their casino rules, taxes, and oversight on established regulatory regimes.
  • Operators - Major casino companies are eager to expand to new markets and are willing to invest billions in developing destinations.

Challenges Facing Emerging Casino Markets

While the potential benefits are substantial, emerging casino markets also face challenges:

  • Inexperienced regulation - Many new jurisdictions need help establishing proper oversight and regulations for casinos, which can lead to corruption and social problems if not adequately controlled.
  • Infrastructure demands - New casino hubs require significant transportation, hospitality, and tourism infrastructure to reach their potential, requiring significant public and private investment.
  • Social impacts - Increased problem gambling, addiction, and crime are potential side effects that must be mitigated through responsible gaming programs and social welfare funding.
  • Saturation - Some regions risk oversaturating as too many jurisdictions build casinos nearby, spreading gaming revenue too thin.
  • Economic volatility - Emerging markets are more prone to economic swings impacting tourism flows and gaming revenue.
  • Political instability - Governments and regulations can shift abruptly in some developing nations, risking investment in casinos.
  • Competition from established hubs - New entrants must vie with heavyweight destinations like Macau, Las Vegas, and Singapore.
  • Human capital - Training qualified gaming employees and management takes time for locales with no history of legal casino gaming.

Emerging casino markets can thrive with intelligent policy, regulation, capital investment, and community engagement. But they also face genuine risks if developed adequately from commercial and socio-economic standpoints.

Notable Emerging Casino Markets Around the World


  • Greece
  • Bulgaria
  • Ukraine
  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Georgia


  • Morocco
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Egypt

Middle East

  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Bahrain
  • Turkey


  • Japan
  • Vietnam
  • Philippines
  • Taiwan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Cambodia
  • India

Latin America

  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Cuba
  • Argentina
  • Chile


  • Curacao
  • Bahamas
  • Aruba
  • Guam
  • Saipan

Outlook for Emerging Casino Markets

The future looks bright for emerging casino markets around the globe. As major operators continue expanding to new destinations and more countries recognize the benefits of regulated gaming industries, we can expect to see hundreds of new casinos and integrated resorts open up over the next decade. Asia will likely continue leading the way, but opportunities abound everywhere, from Latin America to Eastern Europe.

While challenges remain, the economic potential of casinos to drive tourism, create jobs, generate government revenue, and attract outside investment needs to be stronger for many regions to ignore. Emerging casino markets can succeed with the right mix of policy, planning, and partnership between the public and private sectors. Players and industry watchers eagerly anticipate what new gaming hotspots will arise in the years ahead to rival stalwarts like Las Vegas and Macau.

Key Players in Emerging Casino Markets

Several major casino operators are making big bets on emerging markets around the world:

Las Vegas Sands

Under CEO Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands has aggressively expanded into new Asian markets like Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam. Their Marina Bay Sands property almost overnight transformed Singapore into a global gaming hotspot. Sands also has plans for a $10 billion integrated resort in Japan.

MGM Resorts International

MGM has casino developments underway in Japan, Brazil, and Cyprus. It was also one of the first American casino firms to open in Macau. With expertise in Asia and internationally, MGM is positioned to capitalize on emerging markets.

Melco Resorts

Hong Kong-based Melco already operates several casinos in Macau and the Philippines. The company is developing new integrated resorts across Japan, Cyprus, and Singapore to establish itself as Asia's top operator.

Wynn Resorts

Wynn Resorts is developing a massive $2 billion integrated resort in Greece alongside its continued investments in Macau. Steve Wynn's vision and brand power give Wynn an edge in new European and Asian markets.

SJM Holdings

Macau casino giant SJM plans to diversify beyond its local dominance via new multibillion-dollar integrated resorts in markets like Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Russia.

Caesars Entertainment

Caesars is developing properties in markets from Brazil to Egypt as the iconic American casino brand goes global. Its loyalty programs and online gaming prowess will help Caesars thrive abroad.

Hard Rock International

Hard Rock recently expanded into Japan and planned casinos across Latin America, Greece, and Southeast Asia. The globally recognized brand is targeted at youthful demographics in emerging markets.

As competition increases across the industry, operators must be highly selective in where they invest their capital to maximize success in new regions. Their strategies and execution will determine who dominates the future of worldwide casino gambling.

Case Studies of Emerging Casino Markets


Looking at how specific emerging casino markets have developed provides some lessons for future jurisdictions:


  • Opened first casinos in 2010 after decades of prohibition
  • Las Vegas Sands and Genting developed multibillion-dollar integrated resorts
  • Quickly became the #2 gaming market globally behind Macau
  • Tight regulations and local entry restrictions aim to limit social impacts
  • Mass gaming drives revenue over VIP play as regulations evolve
  • Became a major MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) hub
  • Future expansion stalled due to coronavirus pandemic

Singapore demonstrated how a total newcomer to casinos can quickly become a global gaming powerhouse with the right mix of private investment and public management.


  • Legalized casinos, starting in 1976, dominated by small venues
  • "Entertainment City" masterplan launched in 2007
  • Melco, Solaire, Okada, and other operators built massive new integrated resorts.
  • Focus shifted to targeting Chinese VIPs, foreigner-only policies
  • Concerns emerged over the glut of new casinos, reliance on the volatile VIP market
  • Currently rebounding as pandemic travel restrictions ease

The Philippines shows how gaming policy and regulation missteps can hamper emerging casino markets' success once the initial buzz fades.


  • Recently, casinos and integrated resorts were legalized after many stalled attempts.
  • Granted 30+ initial gaming licenses across the country
  • Major resorts planned near Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete, and elsewhere
  • Operators include Mohegan, Hard Rock Cafe, Casinos Austria
  • Targeting increased tourism traffic, especially from Europe and China
  • Success contingent on streamlined licensing and construction timelines
  • Opportunity to become a Mediterranean gaming hub

As the most mature new European gaming market, Greece illustrates the potential to leverage inherent tourism appeal when regulation and infrastructure align.


  • Passed integrated resorts law in 2018, first casinos expected to open in the late 2020s
  • Gaming is expected to be limited to 3% of the total resort space
  • Primary operators are highly interested, but the licensing and regulatory processes slow
  • Local political opposition presenting challenges
  • Likely to initially grant Tokyo and Osaka licenses only
  • Success hinges on Japan streamlining processes and incentivizing investment

Japan exemplifies how complex licensing schemes and political red tape can slow the emergence of gaming in promising markets.

By studying the triumphs and pitfalls of others, new casino jurisdictions can craft more innovative policies to maximize benefits for all stakeholders.

Best Practices for Emerging Casino Markets

Based on an analysis of markets around the world, several best practices stand out for new jurisdictions:

  • Develop clear gaming regulations - Ambiguous or unstable rules deter serious operators and invite corruption. Aim for transparency.
  • Design intuitive licensing framework - Avoid bureaucracy that limits or drags out approvals. Make investment incentives attractive.
  • Plan regulatory oversight diligently - Gaming control boards must be independent and have the authority to enforce compliance.
  • Require integrated resorts - Casinos integrated with hotels, restaurants, entertainment, retail, and other amenities make the most economic impact.
  • Invest in infrastructure - Transport links, power, water, and digital infrastructure must meet increased demand.
  • Focus on mass and VIP - Cater to average tourists while attracting wealthy visitors with luxury perks and amenities.
  • Establish responsible gaming standards - Minimize problem gambling through player education, exclusion options, and treatment funding.
  • Coordinate with tourism bureaus - Integrate casinos into broader efforts to boost leisure and business visits.
  • Partner with established brands - Leading international operators bring expertise, marketing power, loyalty networks, and more.
  • Counter illegal gambling - Reduce black market gaming by making regulated options readily accessible for players.
  • Leverage natural advantages - Build existing tourism appeal, local culture, geography, and infrastructure strengths through marketing.

With the right mix of policies and partnerships, emerging casino markets can thrive as economic and leisure destinations.

Future Outlook

The emergence of new global casino hubs will continue as more regions recognize the economic and tourism benefits of regulated gaming industries. Asia will drive much growth, but the potential exists nearly anywhere. However, only some markets will succeed with careful planning. Only destinations that craft smart regulations, incentivize infrastructure investment, and provide stable conditions will reach their potential. Partnerships between policymakers and industry experts will be essential.

While risks remain, the overall outlook is bright. Visitors eager to experience the excitement of casino gaming for the first time will have more options than ever within the next decade. Established gaming giants will face fresh competition. Local economies across continents stand to prosper from new casinos catering to tourists and locals seeking world-class entertainment. For seasoned and rookie gamblers, a fascinating new era in expanding global casino gambling is just beginning.

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