Myanmar Casinos & Gambling:
Myanmar (known as Burma until 1989) has four mainstream casinos that we have found offering resort-like amenities and attracting foreign visitors. There may be more casinos scattered throughout the country near the Thai, Laos, and Chinese borders. Information about these casinos is sketchy and difficult to come by and many are not likely to be places an uninformed person would want to venture to. We can't confirm anything about the owners, operators, or funding sources of these shadowy outfits and the blogs and news reports should be taken with a dose of skepticism due to the political conflicts in the area, and the possibility of propaganda. There are reports that many of the unconventional casinos deep in the jungles are ran by drug lords of the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos and Thailand opium production zone) and that unpleasant things may occur when a gambling debt is not paid. We will confine our information to the mainstream casinos that have a public presence.
Gambling is legal in Myanmar, however most of the casino customers come from neighboring Thailand and China where it is not legal to gamble. The most popular casino for junkets is Andaman Club on Thahtay Kyun, an island in the Andaman Sea. Most residents of Myanmar simply cannot afford to gamble with a per capita income of less than USD1000 per year. The newly wealthy Chinese can afford the luxury and easy access from Ranong means even "middle class" Thais are taking advantage of the opportunity to try their luck in safe and legal venues.
All four of the casinos have attached hotels and offer restaurants and bars. Some offer other amenities such as karaoke clubs, spas, swimming pools and golf courses.
The very brief history of Myanmar
Myanmar has been under various occupations throughout the years since the wars of 1824 and 1886 - from the English, Indians, and Japanese as well as their own military until the ongoing political reforms that began in 2011-2012. After nearly 50 years of censorship and iron-fist rule, the people of Myanmar now sit in coffee shops and speak their minds about the county's past, present and future. The incoming magazines and newspapers are no longer redacted - and although the mood is somewhat cautious, there is great hope for freedom. Economic and political factors still make it unreasonable to think the area will be the next gambling mecca however, and we don't expect to see even moderate growth in the casino industry in the foreseeable future.
The location and geography of Myanmar
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and the second largest country on the continent by land size. It is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. About a third of the country's perimeter (1,200 miles) is surrounded by the waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
The two areas you will find casinos in are the Thai border town of Tachilek with two casinos, and in the Andaman Sea where two other casinos operate on islands. The Andaman Club Resort & Casino has a sole concession on the 1,800 acre Thahtay Kyun Island, and Treasure Island Resort & Casino is located on Pulo Island off the Southern coast between the Myanmar town of Kawthaung and Ranong, Thailand - 15 to 20 minutes by boat from either pier.
Foreign visitors must pass through immigration points and purchase short-term visas for a nominal fee to enter Myanmar territory. Thais may use their passbook, others need a passport that is valid for at least six more months. A three-day (two-night) visa to Myanmar costs US$10.
The casinos of Myanmar
The most internationally famous of the casinos is the Andaman Club Resort & Casino on Thahtay Kyun, a little more than half an hours boat trip from Kawthaung or Ranong. This is where you are most likely to see VIPs and high rollers from China, Japan, or India. The entire island is for the exclusive use of guests and many younger visitors use the resort as a jumping off place for deep sea diving and snorkeling adventures.
Treasure Island off of Kawthaung opened in 2005. The resort complex consists of about 10 multi-story buildings. The island's west side has about 50 bamboo cabanas unrelated to the casino.
Allure Resort is located just across the northern Myanmar border from Thailand in Tachilek. The property features a 90 room hotel and provides free airport shuttles.
Regina Golf Club, Hotel & Resort Casino is also located in Tachilek and features two hotels, a golf course, a Japanese restaurant and International Buffet.
Other gambling in Myanmar
We are not aware of any legal pari-mutuel betting, racebooks, or sportsbooks in Myanmar, however there is abundant informal gambling. One of the most popular less-than-legal options is the "nhit-lone" or 2-digit lottery that is based on digits of the Thai Stock Exchange. There is a monthly state lottery, called Aung Bar Lay, with an expected return of about 44%, thus the reason for so much illegal or informal betting.
Myanmar Casinos and Gambling in Summary
Myanmar casinos offer slots and the standard most-popular Las Vegas style games such as baccarat, blackjack, roulette and slot machines. Some also take bets on Sic Bo (Tai Sai) and table poker games such as Caribbean Stud. The four mainstream casinos offer visitors a resort experience to one degree or another.
One may think that Myanmar's location between the high-roller generating countries of China and India, along with the fact it is a tropical paradise, make it a short-list candidate for the next boom-zone in gambling. The realities on the ground strongly suggest otherwise. We expect it to remain about the same with perhaps minimal growth over the next decade.
For anyone traveling or planning to travel to this part of the world we would suggest sticking to our reviewed casinos, rather than venturing off the beaten path. First class accommodations and VIP services are available at all four casinos.