Flying Casinos: Will We Be Gambling in Airplanes?

Flying Casinos: Will We Be Gambling in Airplanes?

Flying isn’t exactly fun. At best, you can hope for a tiny bottle of vodka and a rom-com to help pass the time. But soon you might just be able to win a jackpot on a plane.

The cruise ship conundrum

You might be thinking, if cruise ships can have casinos, why can’t airplanes? It’s a good point, actually.

Cruise ships and planes are both subject to international maritime laws. Basically, once you’re far enough into the ocean, almost anything goes. That’s why cruise liners have had so much success with onboard casinos despite how gambling is heavily regulated pretty much everywhere.

And cruise ship casinos are impressive. They feature everything you’d find on the Vegas Strip: slots, blackjack, roulette, cocktails, and bright lights. Yet today, most airliners still have yet to offer even the most basic gambling services.

A failed experiment

Airliners actually have tried to implement casino games on flights in the past. And for a while, it seemed to work. Singapore Airlines, SwissAir, and Lauda Air all had simple slot machines available for passengers to try their luck on while over the open seas.

But before long, disaster struck. SwissAir flight 111 crashed in 1998 as a result of the onboard gambling system overheating. The crash resulted in the deaths of 229 people and immediately halted any further development on mile-high gambling.

Ryanair leading the way

Given the unfortunate history of mile-high gambling, you might be surprised to know that you actually CAN gamble on one airline: Ryanair. This Ireland-based carrier introduced scratch games on flights in 2008. It’s pretty simple: if you want to play, you just ask an attendant for a card once the flight is over international waters.

The cards are €2 each and have earned Ryanair millions over the past few years.

The main draw for this Fly To Win scratch game? A €1 million top prize. But to win it, you have to scratch a “YES” on the card you receive, enter online, and get selected for a grand final drawing with 124 other people at a future date.

So no, it’s definitely not Vegas on a plane. But it’s more than what any other airline is offering today.

Gambling from your seat?

Despite the failure of slot machines on airplanes, airline operators have still succeeded in making their planes more advanced. If you’ve flown recently, you know that Wi-Fi services, on-seat TVs, and even video games are becoming more common.

It wouldn’t be much more difficult to include real casino games in these video terminals, especially since some airlines already have credit card scanners on the seats.

This idea isn’t perfect though. Many credit card companies are prohibited from accepting gaming transactions by law. There’s also the issue of online casinos – if passengers can just play at their favourite online casino, why bother with the airline’s service? And if minors got access to the games, airlines could face serious penalties.

A more social experience

Ryanair, who have already had great success with their scratch cards, have a different approach in the works. Representatives are thinking of replacing cargo space with a casino floor. This way, you could actually get up from your cramped seat and go play to pass the time.

It sounds fun, but the idea still has yet to be implemented successfully. And convincing passengers to deal with less space for luggage may be a struggle. Would it be worth it?

Ready to play in a casino in the sky?

What do you think? Is an on-flight casino the best idea ever or a waste of time? Join the discussion over on the AskGamblers forum and let us know what you think!