This week, we’re testing the limits of human endurance and seeking planning permission for the world’s ultimate casinos. Wet, dry, hot, cold… these destinations are the definition of extreme.
Would Las Vegas legend Steve Wynn opt in? Will billionaire Sheldon Adelson build it and let them come? Is it another opportunity for Macau gaming legend Stanley Ho?
Here’s our top ten of the world’s wildest places to build a casino.
What do you think?
- COLD: Vostok Station – Ice Machine Not Necessary
There’s cold, and then there’s Vostok cold.
Located 1,300 km from the South Pole, at the centre of the East Antarctic ice sheet, the Vostok Research is responsible for the lowest ever recorded temperature on earth: a chilly -89.2°C degrees.
To give you an idea how cold that is: a typical fridge freezer operates at around -18°C, petrol freezes at -40°C – so frostbite will occur within minutes. It’s a life threatening location.
The Vostok Station was built by the Russians in 1957 and is one of the best places on the planet to study earth’s magnetosphere and climate.
Any casino would need to be very well insulated. If the action at the tables was going against the house, there would be no need to send in a ‘cooler’ to kill the game. You could simply just open a window.
The Verdict: We think the Vostok Station is a hot tip for a potential casino investor. It benefits from a captive audience, a polar night that lasts for 130 days, and a lack of other distractions.
Game Choices: We think online slots – Penguin Vacation and Ice Run are the perfect fit for this chilled out location.
- HOT: Greenland Ranch, Death Valley – Ice Machine Mandatory
Is Death Valley a good location for a casino? This question is not hypothetical. Las Vegas is only a two hour drive away. The Death Valley National Park is a popular day trip for weary gamblers keen to take a break from the tables.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, on July 10, 1913, an air temperature of 56.7°C was recorded at Death Valley. At ground level, it’s even hotter: almost hot enough to boil water.
Las Vegas is the most iconic gaming destination on the planet. Millions of tourists travel to Sin City every year looking for good times, big wins, and the kind of experience that must be left in Las Vegas.
The Verdict: Give it time and Death Valley could be a suburb of Las Vegas. It’s still a fair distance away but clearly hot temperatures are not an issue.
Game Choices: There’s no better place than Las Vegas for a game of craps. You need a crowd to get the game going and the shooters are already in town.
- DRY: Atacama Desert, Chile – Perfect for a Very Dry Martini
No need to pack an umbrella, if you’re heading to the Atacama Desert. It’s the driest place on earth, with less than 1mm of rain each year. Some evidence suggests that certain areas of the 1,000 sq km desert have never had any rainfall whatsoever, due to its unique location between two mountain chains: the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range.
Dry? You’ll be needing a drink. Any casino bar manager would be licking his or her lips at the prospect of an Atacama casino. Throw in the crystal clear star studded nights for moonlight strolls across the sand and you have the perfect setting for a casino. The nearby ALMA ground telescope may not appreciate the neon lights.
The Verdict: Stunning scenery, starlight skies, and no rain guaranteed make Atacama a top choice for any budding casino developer.
Game Choices: Scratch cards are the perfect choice for this arid location. If you lost a winning card outside, it would still be there – in perfect condition – 100 years later.
- WET: Mawsynram, India – Don’t Forget Your Brolley
If you enjoy unleashing your inner Gene Kelly and singing in the rain, get ready to work on those vocal nodules and howl yourself hoarse. It’s Mawsynram, and there’s a very good chance it’s raining right now.
The North East Indian village sits in the shadows of the Himalayas on the borders of Bangladesh. Every year, nearly 12 metres of rain drenches the villagers. It’s officially the wettest place in the world.
Fortunately, for the locals, the inclement weather is a tourist attraction: there’s money in monsoons. Would the wet and wild action dampen a casino developer’s enthusiasm? The rain-soaked infrastructure will make building a casino tricky and bussing in the gamblers, with landslides and floods, could wash out the best intentions.
The Verdict: It’s not going to be easy and the novelty of a torrential downpour will wear thin. We think it’s a non-starter.
Game Choices: Playing cards don’t mix well with water so we are staying wet with roulette. You can spin your clothes dry at the same time.
- HIGH: Mount Everest – Action with Altitude
What’s the one thing better than being on top of the world? Winning a jackpot at the same time. Planning permission for a casino at Everest Base Camp is unlikely, but it would certainly be a dream destination.
The high altitude would make the high rollers dizzy. You would need to acclimatise before the action started. If you wanted to have a punt at the 29,028 ft peak, you would have to pay between $28,000 and $85,000. It takes about 40 days to reach the summit, including acclimatization and establishing camps.
Everest would be a jewel in any developer’s crown. The perfect choice for the high-rolling, hard core, player: the ultimate natural high. Sherpas at the tables and you can back a yak
The Verdict: Grab the oxygen tank and start building. It’s the highest spot on the planet!
Game Choices: This is the top of the game and where the jackpots need to be mountain sized. It’s time to roll out the progressive jackpot slots.
- DEEP: The Mariana Trench – Home of the Whale
In the western Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Trench is a 1,580 mile gash in the ocean floor, with an average width of more than 40 miles. It’s also the deepest recorded part of the world’s oceans at a crushingly impressive 36,070 ft deep: that’s nearly seven miles – straight down.
Only three men have ever made it to the bottom where the pressure is 1,000 times what it is at sea level, including Titanic film director James Cameron.
Aside from the novelty factor, there’s little reason why anyone is going to want to build a casino on the ocean floor. Commuting to work would take hours, depressurization would take days, and the views would be pretty dull: there’s no light and the landscape is ‘lunar’.
The Verdict: This one is for the fishes. If you’re looking for a unique one-off experience, the ocean floor delivers but it’s appeal is limited. Maybe that’s why there have only ever been a handful of expeditions.
Game Choices: This is the land of the whale – and whales love to play baccarat. The classic French card game would rule the waves at 6,033.5 fathoms below.
- DEEP AND DRY: The Krubera Cave – Claustrophobic? Avoid…
Located in the Arabika Massif, next to the Black Sea, in the Gagra district of Abkhazia is the Krubera Cave: the deepest known cave on earth. From its entrance point to it deepest explored point, the depth is a 2,197 metres.
The cave is a nightmarish network of pitches, cascades, and pits. Silt and rubble must be moved before further depths can be plumbed. Explorers describe Krubera as ‘an inverted Everest’.
An underground casino has its appeal. Exotic rock formations, underground canyons, and hidden waterfalls would make for a unique experience. Cavers who explore Krubera are often underground for weeks at a time. Perhaps, it could be called Casino Claustrophobia.
The Verdict: Why not… Construction logistics aside, a subterranean casino would be a spectacular location for the adventurous gambler.
Game Choices: The poker room will be star turn at this casino. It’s a case of go deep or go home.
- DENSE: Macau – Agoraphobic? Avoid…
The former Portuguese colony of Macau is officially the most densely populated location on planet earth, according to a census in September 2016. The 647,700 population is squeezed into just 12 square miles, generating a record breaking 55,000 people per square mile.
Today, Macau outranks Las Vegas as the world’s leading gaming destination, with 33 casinos catering to an influx of bet-hungry Chinese tourists. Foreign casino operators were first granted licenses in 2003. Since then, Macau’s GDP has jumped from $7 billion in 2002 to $55 billion in 2014 – according to the World Bank.
With booming economies next door and a culture that loves to gamble, densely populated Macau is the perfect destination to set up a casino. Be warned: recent crackdowns on corruption have seen casino revenues drop. Don’t worry: there’s still plenty of action to go round.
The Verdict: The proof is in the pudding. Macau has been a gambling destination for hundreds of years and it’s still taking bets
Game Choices: Baccarat is by far the most popular game in Macau with its low house edge (less than 1%). It’s another win for James Bond’s favourite card game.
- HIGH FLYER: Concorde – Supersonic Action
It’s been more than 19 years since Concorde had its wings clipped and was retired from service. The tragic July 2000 crash, the drop in air travel post 9/11, and rising costs persuaded Air France and British Airways to mothball the supersonic passenger jet.
The plane still holds the record for the highest commercial flight at a stratospheric 60,000 feet, as well as the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a civil aircraft. It cruised at 1,350 mph: twice the speed of sound.
The plane would be a superb setting for an ultra-glamorous high altitude casino but the games would have to be fast and furious. Flights between London and New York took less than three hours.
The Verdict: Oh yes… Passengers on this flight used to be offered Cuban cigars. Times have changed but this would be an incredible casino in the clouds.
Game Choices: Caribbean Stud is the perfect choice for the Concorde casino. The well-heeled passengers would enjoy this tropical table game.
- OUT OF THIS WORLD: The Moon – Just For Lunatics?
It’s a safe bet to say that eventually there will be people living on the moon. It might take some time but it’s human nature to colonise. Although the Moon has few secrets, it’s the perfect testing ground for more ambitious galactic explorations.
NASA has no current plans to return to the Moon but the Chinese are interested and a lunar base could have commercial backers. A holiday to the moon – it would be the experience of a lifetime.
Casino developers breathed life into the deserts of Nevada. The Moon would be the ultimate ‘get away from it all’ destination. Once upon a time, flying was a luxury only the rich could afford. How long will it be before we are all lining up for a weekend in a crater on the Moon?
The Verdict: Fly me to the moon. It will happen…
Game Choices: It has to be blackjack. The ultimate casino game for the ultimate destination: touch down and double down.