Flying Casinos: What are they?

Flying Casinos: What are they?

Gambling while airborne is nothing new in the current era. Flying casinos has always been considered as a revenue generator for many different types of commercial enterprise. Whether it’s playing the slot machine in the pub or buying lottery tickets form the supermarket, most commercial businesses are happy to earn extra money by offering gambling products.

We already have small bits of flying casinos with Ryanair selling scratch tickets as soon as you get off the ground. Scratch tickets are better than nothing if you want to gamble but players probably care more for everything else like slots, casino games, betting on sports, bingo and maybe even Poker. For those that like to gamble, we almost expect to have access to some type of best live casino, casino games or online slots that you can play and win live casino bonuses.

In 2005, one audacious airline CEO went on the record and said that shortly, profits from flying casinos could enable airlines to offer free airfares for all passengers. The same year, Virgin’s CEO, promising to deliver a fleet of Airbus A380s featuring mini-casinos, quipped “With double beds and a casino, you will have at least two ways to get lucky”. The message that year was clear: flying casinos was going to be the tool to transform the balance sheets of airline operators and pave the way for free, fun-filled flights.

Well, believe it or not, this is something airline carriers are keen to provide to players and it’s the perfect bit of entertainment to offer to their passengers. They already offer a wide selection of movies, TV shows, and music, it only makes sense to offer something that can help the flight go by and hey, who doesn’t want to hit a jackpot in the sky. 

It won’t be long before we hear of passengers winning at flying casinos. Even if you are just a recreational player, you can keep your wagering low and kill a couple of hours.

Twist of laws

Ryanair was already operating its lottery system, with scratchers. In the late 1990s, Swissair also introduced flying casino, followed by Lauda Air. Like the airlines, U.S. ships faced strong competition from foreign carriers in the 1990s. Rather than allowing U.S. airlines to also have flying casinos, Congress, without discussion or debate, passed the Gorton Amendment: “An air carrier or foreign air carrier may not install, transport, or operate, or permit the use of, any gambling device onboard an aircraft in foreign air transportation.”

The playing field had been levelled but in such a way as to make it almost impossible for any airline to offer legal gambling. The prohibition on even installing or transporting a gambling device meant aircraft had to do without, even if there was only a slim chance they might enter U.S. airspace.

Foreign airlines and other nations naturally objected. They created the International Coalition on the Rule of Law. They argued that one country, even the U.S., cannot tell other countries what they can and cannot do outside of its borders. But the U.S. has, by treaties, agreed to allow aircraft from other nations that meet certain safety requirements to land and take off. There is no mention of gambling.

The result is that Internet gambling has become a very big business, but not for American operators.

Flying casinos today

In theory, these casinos could be powered without the internet but ideally, they would be powered and controlled through the internet. The only thing that will interfere with airlines offering casino games is to know where the jurisdiction is. When players are in the air, they are in airspace and the airlines might not be subjected to the same set of laws as if they were on land. 

The only other complication is that players could win money on the flight and that money might need to be declared depending on where you are arriving and if you are asked and required to declare a set amount of income on you.

If people can connect to the internet while flying, then this is the current way you’d get around to being able to gamble while flying. 

Future ahead

Online casinos are quick to get in on virtual reality as many virtual reality slots are available and this part of online gambling is just starting to grow. Virtual reality is a growing industry on its own and gambling is just a part of it but this could completely change how we fly and pass the time on flights.

It may be that the murkiness of the current position is what is currently restraining the air operators from investing in more overt forms of gambling such as seat back casino games, whilst continuing to operate scratch cards – a form of gambling which requires little investment. So your favourite past-time of slots, blackjack, betting on sports or whatever you like to bet on, might just be available on your next flight!


Name : Flying Casinos: What are they?
Author : Alexis Gibson
Published Date : 18/09/2019