How Macau Became China’s Las Vegas

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Much has been written about the history of Las Vegas. Most people know all about how the bright city lights of Sin City were once no more than wet marshland that later turned into desert land, and how had it not been for the spirit of the Wild West having run free among railroad workers and ranchers making a living in the area, Vegas may very well never have been born at all.

But unlike the mass of information available about Sin City’s humble beginnings, not to mention people actually being aware of its history, not nearly as much is known about Macau. And yet, the place often referred to as the Monte Carlo of the Orient.

This is an abbreviated story about how Macau leapfrogged even Vegas by becoming the world’s most profitable online gambling casino sites from the gambling industry.

In The Beginning

Formerly a Portuguese colony, Macau eventually returned to Chinese rule as recently as 1999, during which year it was declared a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. What this means is that Macau isn’t governed by the same laws as is mainland China. It also means that Macau is the only region of China where gambling is legal.

But Macau’s history with gambling dates much further back than Chinese globalisation. Long before the 1999 handover, Macau had been well-known for its VIP gaming rooms. Since these gaming rooms hosted mainly high-stakes games in a private and exclusively elite setting, they made the experience of gambling in Macau very different to that of gambling anywhere else in the world.

By 2013, high-rolling big spenders made up 66% of the total revenue generated in the region during that year.

How Macau Became China’s Las Vegas

Allowing Outsiders In

2002 was the year everything changed for Macau. Up until 2001, only a single company was authorised to operate casinos in Macau – a company by the name of Sociedad de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, SA (STDM). In 2001, casino operations generated 40% of al tax revenue collected by government.

But then in 2002, government decreed that casino licenses could be issued to qualifying international (foreign) firms, including big corporate players such as MGM, Galaxy, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, and the likes.

What had started out as no more than a small mainland peninsula and two small islands measuring no more than 11.6 square kilometers in total (this was around 1912), by 2010 had exploded into a territory nearly 30 square kilometers large – not to mention that Macau is today home to several casino resort complexes, luxury hotels, and too many shopping centres and malls to mention.

Modern Macau

Macau today is a world removed from what it once was. Instead of relying on VIP gaming rooms, Macau is today home to a massive casino and entertainment industry. Macau’s very modern-day success is built on the region’s ability to attract the typical mass market gambler, i.e. the gambler interested everything Macau has to offer, including that of it being a popular vacation destination.