It is not new to talk about how casinos can generate new economic opportunities and boost tourism in various regions of the world.
The gaming and entertainment area has enormous potential, where places like Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore already prove how profitable casinos can be for the region where they are located.
The website IstoÉ prepared a news story talking about Liechtenstein, a principality between Switzerland and Austria that after allowing the operation of physical casinos in 2017, has been receiving a lot of attention in the construction of new casinos and gaming venues.
Check out the article about Liechtenstein
When thinking about tourism in Europe, the small principality of Liechtenstein hardly crosses the minds of Brazilians. Located in the Alps region, between Switzerland and Austria, it is only 25 kilometers away between these two neighbors — that is, it is possible to cross three different borders in half an hour by car.
To get an idea of its real size, the total area of the territory is just 160 km2, which is smaller than that of the principality of Monaco — the population does not reach 40 thousand inhabitants.
A relic of European medieval history, Liechtenstein is full of castles, rural areas and mountains — however, something started to change in 2017 — the year the region began to allow physical casinos to function. Today, there are five of them and the project to build another five.
The phenomenon seems to be here to stay, and some see it as a great investment, while others — especially residents and small businesses — wonder whether this sudden change in tourist attractions could affect Liechtenstein’s identity.
The last opening was the Grand Casino, in 2019, located immediately beside the Swiss border, and considered the largest in the principality. Unlike buildings like Las Vegas, Macau and Monaco, the building is all gray, with no lush water fountains or flashy signs.
From the outside, it could even be considered a factory. Inside, however, there are four floors spread over 7,000 square meters offering all the atmosphere of a good casino: low light contrasting with the neon of the 292 slot machines and 29 gaming tables. It also has bars, restaurants and even the hotel itself.
Anyone who wants to just play games, doesn’t even need to leave their place. The flow of cars through the region is constant and the Swiss, according to data from the casino itself, are the vast majority. Local government statistics show that in 2020, the year of the pandemic, 400,000 people passed through Liechtenstein’s casinos.
Success is undeniable. But after all, what attracts so many visitors? In addition to the short distances and the discretion of the locals, there is less control over players, who feel comfortable away from their acquaintances.
In 2020, even with the restrictions of the pandemic, the casinos in the place received 400 thousand players
In Switzerland, for example, there is still inspection of people who can be considered addicts or who gamble beyond their financial capacity. In Lichtenstein there is none of this. The “free market” and even the “tax haven” mentality makes the rules minimal.
So far, there is no law that restricts how many casinos can be opened. But what limit can the territory absorb?
The Liechtenstein Institute, a kind of NGO that coordinates local tourist attractions and cultural activities, is concerned about this escalation of games, not least because the principality has already been the target of major financial scandals involving money laundering, something frequent when it comes to casinos .
The principality’s deputy prime minister, Sabine Monauni, is clear in her position against the rise of so many casinos. In a local newspaper, he said that the market needs to be regulated through laws created in Parliament “so that we don’t become the next Las Vegas”, something that goes against the wishes of the residents.
Although they have the power to circulate money and create jobs, caution is needed — if players don’t stay or spend money in the region — it makes little sense to see the natural and feudal landscape invaded by gigantic buildings.
For now, all of Liechtenstein’s casinos are owned by foreign investors, but that, of course, is a government problem. For those who love to gamble the place is the new paradise on Earth and is located in the heart of Europe.