For experienced gamblers around the world, Macau is at the top of their bucket list for places to visit.
Even those who don’t know much about the industry will often visit the special Asian region for the benefit of playing in some of the world’s most famous casinos alone.
Despite this, Macau has failed to gain the same attention among the general population as other destinations like Las Vegas, leading many to be clueless about its existence.
If this is you, or you know little about the country, here are 10 cool things you need to know about casinos and the gambling industry in Macau in general.
One Man Once Owned All Casinos In Macau
In 1962, Hong Kong-Macau entrepreneur Stanley Ho was given monopoly over the gambling industry in exchange for transforming the city’s infrastructure and promoting tourism.
This meant that his company, SJM Holdings, owned all casinos in Macau for four decades until other companies were allowed to enter the market in 2002.
Stanley Ho’s Brand Still Owns 33% Of All Casinos In Macau
Making way for competition could have sent any market dominator on a downward spiral, but not for Stanley Ho. Even after the derailment of his ownership, he continued to own a larger part of the market than any other company in the city.
According to Gamblers Daily Digest, his company SJM Holdings, now owned by his children, continues to own 33% of all Macau casinos to this day.
Gambling Was Legalized To Create A New Revenue Source For Macau
In the early 1800s, when Macau was still considered a Portuguese colony, it started struggling to keep up with the Asian countries that surrounded it. While foreign merchants and traders flocked to fast-developing Hong Kong, Macau residents were left to take up the “grotty jobs and trades” according to one historian.
This also impacted their revenue due to a reduction in tourism, leading administrators searching for an answer. Gambling seemed the obvious choice as it was accessible to surrounding countries while also being far away from prying eyes, leading to it being legalized in the early 1850s.
Macau Was The First Country In Asia To Legalize Gambling
As aforementioned, Macau legalized gambling back in the 1850s, far beyond when other Asian countries considered legalizing it.
Even today, there are strict restrictions on gambling in Asian countries, with places like China waving a blanket ban over the practice. With that being said, Singapore and Hong Kong did legalize land-based gambling in the 19th century, joining Macau in attempts to increase their own revenue.
Macau Is Responsible For The Gambling Revolution In Southern Asia
Macau has always been the clear frontrunner in Southern Asia when it comes to gambling, but this could be set to change. Coming directly from a desire to replicate Macau’s success, many foreign casino companies have created a revolution in the region over the last decade.
Not only has revenue been going up in casinos that already exist, but many companies are planning to create new casinos. This includes big casino company Wynn, who has vowed to build the world’s largest casino in Japan in an attempt to compete with Macau’s industry.
Macau Overtook Las Vegas Strip In Gambling Revenue In 2007
Macau has become known as the “Monte Carlo of the East”, but in reality, it far exceeds what the Las Vegas strip has managed.
In 2007, just five years after allowing more than one company to invest in the gambling industry, Macau reported annual gambling figures higher than the Las Vegas Strip for the first time. In fact, profits from casino taxes are so high that the government pays each permanent resident over $1,200 a year without a catch.
Macau Continues To Be The Gambling Capital Of The World
Macau has outdone any other country or region, including the Las Vegas Strip, to become the gambling capital of the world. In fact, their GDP per capita is $115,000, more than twice that of New Orleans.
Lucian Marinescu, partner at OnlineCasinoGames, believes this is a given when you consider the rich history of the region. “Macau was one of the first places, not only in Asia but around the world, to combine traditional Chinese gambling with more Western approaches. This has created an outstanding level of choice and a unique atmosphere that makes it a must-see location for all gambling fans.”
Gambling Tourism Accounts For 50% Of Macau’s Revenue
Portuguese administrators did the right thing when they decided to legalize gambling in their colony back in the 1800s. Since then, gambling has changed Macau’s reputation, leading to an increase in gambling tourism in the area. According to Gambling News Magazine, 50% of Macau’s Revenue can now be traced back to gambling tourism directly.
Online Gambling Is Still Illegal In Macau
In the digital age, many casino companies are turning to the world of online gambling to continue increasing revenue. Despite earlier innovative legislation changes, however, this is not one that the Macau government has yet to make. For both companies and citizens within the region, online casinos are still considered to be illegal.
Casinos Do Not Use The Local Currency
Visitors to Macau may be tempted to exchange their cash for the local currency, Macau Pataca, but if you plan on visiting a casino, this could be a big mistake. This is because the legal tender in casinos is completely different, instead of relying on the more popular Hong Kong dollar.
Having become the global capital of gambling, Macau is a region that offers invaluable culture and history to a complex industry. Once dominated by a single billionaire in a bid to increase tourism revenue, it has since welcome international casino companies, largely diversifying itself in a competitive market.
These transitions, alongside its dedication to hold onto the historic parts of its own casino industry that have made it into the success it is today, are what makes it such an iconic place to visit for both local and international residents.