The A380 could be adopted as the platform for an airborne casino within five years, after it emerged that Airbus has begun preliminary talks with an undisclosed business looking to acquire one to use as a flying betting house.

An Airbus source says a lot of interest is coming from casino operators in Macau, which rivals Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world.

Gambling is also thriving in other parts of Asia, including Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea, while Singapore is set to open its first casino resort next year, ending a 40-year ban.

Casinos are outlawed in mainland China, but operators exploit strict laws there by providing gambling boat cruises out of cities such as Hong Kong into international waters.

The Airbus talks also follow a recent report that giant casino operator the Las Vegas Sands, which has operations in the USA and Macau, is hoping to launch VIP charter flights between Hong Kong and Las Vegas featuring baccarat tables.