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Why other Natural Wonders and special places could be at risk

While there are many lists of Great Natural Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls is usually ranked within the top 12. With the grand opening of Canada's Fallsview Casino Resort in 2004, Niagara Falls was the first and remains the only Great Natural Wonder to be desecrated by a casino. Since Las Vegas is running out of water and casinos are going broke in Atlantic City, the casino industry is looking to diversify and build casino "resorts" at pristine and/or noteworthy locations around the world. It's no longer considered unthinkable for a casino resort to be developed next a Great Natural Wonder such as the Grand Canyon or Angel Falls. Or why not place a floating casino (with a glass bottom) over the Great Barrier Reef. Such ideas aren't far fetched to the casino industry. The very existence of Fallsview Casino sends a disturbing message that it's OK to develop more casinos next to Natural Wonders and other special places.

In addition to Great Natural Wonders of the World there are perhaps 200 Natural Treasures of international significance. A large number of these Natural Treasures are found within a list of "properties having outstanding universal value" as defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO's "World Heritage List" includes 660 cultural sites, 166 natural areas and 25 mixed properties.(1)* Some well known Natural Treasures can be listed as follows: Crater Lake, Oregon; Bryce Canyon, Utah; Thompson Falls, Kenya; Yosemite National Park, California; The Matterhorn, Switzerland/Italy; and Great Falls, Maryland/Virginia. Because a significant number of the world's 200 or so Natural Treasures are located near populated areas and/or transportation centers, casino resort development has become a very real threat.

Although it's not a Natural Treasure, Gettysburg Battlefield, National Military Park, Pennsylvania, U.S., is the site of the largest battle ever fought in North America and is sacred ground to most Americans. Yet, the casino industry was nearly successful in gaining approval for the development of a sizable casino that was to be located next to the Battlefield. Fortunately, a mobilized citizenry defeated the casino industry's efforts at the "11th hour".(2) Of course there is no guarantee that the casino industry won't make future attempts to build casinos near battlefields or other places of historic significance. So, if you think that a casino will never debase an historic site or Natural Treasure near you, think again.

Below is a list of Great Natural Wonders of the World. It should be noted that they are not necessarily listed in order of significance. Also, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is excluded since it's a natural phenomenon and not a specific geographic feature or location.

  • Mt. Everest, Nepal
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona, U.S.
  • Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe, Africa
  • Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • Angel Falls, Venezuela
  • Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada/New York, U.S.
  • Ayers Rock, Australia
  • Iguassu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa
  • Bay of Fundy, Novia Scotia, Canada
  • Mt. Fuji, Japan
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Krakatoa Island, Indonesia
  • Paricutin Volcano, Mexico

*Note: A complete listing of footnotes can be found in the References / Endnotes section.