Can Mongolia Compete Against Macau?

The Mongolia parliament is weighing legislation that would permit the country to build its first two casinos. But will people really travel to Mongolia to gamble, when casinos are cropping up elsewhere in the region?

Relaxed visa policy could help

Like many Asian countries, Mongolia is looking to cash in on the Chinese casino crackdown, which has caused many high rollers to flee Macau and search for safe harbor elsewhere. But with casinos being developed across the continent, from South Korea to Vietnam, the Northeast Asian country may have a hard time making a success of it.

According to, Mongolia?located on the border of China to the south and Russia to the north? is hobbled by an inhospitable subtropical climate characterized by short summers and long, harsh winters. During the winter season in 2009-10, the country lost 8 million livestock to the bitter cold.

Nevertheless, last month Mongolia’s Cabinet Secretariat OK’d draft legislation that would permit the development two multi-billion dollar casinos. Like most Asian countries with legal gambling, Mongolia won’t permit its own residents to gamble; residents have an average annual income of less than $9,300.

Those who argue in favor of gaming in Mongolia point out that Japanese and Russian travelers don’t need visas to visit, and Chinese with official passports don’t either.

Likely locations for the casinos could be in close proximity to the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, now under construction with a planned completion date by the end of 2016.