As far as casinos in Asia are concerned, there are few people who think of anyplace other than Macau. Though most people simply refer to the region and city as “Macau,” the official name as given by the Chinese government is Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Though it may be a bit confusing, Macau is an autonomous region (meaning they self-govern) that exists within, and is owned by, the country of China.
As a special administrative region, the rules governing Macau are just slightly different than those governing the rest of mainland China. Chief amongst those differences is the fact the gambling is allowed freely. In the following sections, we will discuss the ins and outs of what make Macau so special, and introduce you to the gambling landscape that dominates the region.
Casa Real Casino
Casino Macau Palace
Jai Alai Casino
Kam Pek Casino
Kingsway Hotel & Casino
Grand Lapa Hotel
New Century Hotel & Casino
The Legend Club
Golden Dragon Casino
Greek Mythology Casino
The Venetian Macau, Cotai Strip
Casino Crystal Palace at Hotel Lisboa
Diamond Casino at Holiday Inn
Emperor Palace Casino
Galaxy Rio Casino
Galaxy Waldo Hotel and Casino
Pharaoh’s Palace Casino
Casino Marina at Taipa
Crown Casino Taipa
MJC Casino Taipa
City of Dreams
Galaxy Cotai Mega Resort
Galaxy Grand Waldo
Just about all of the casinos in Macau are of the same variety. All of them are privately owned and operated. What’s more, a large majority of them are much more than a casino. The casino resorts located all over Macau rival the ones you will find in places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas. These massive casinos are complemented by amenities such as premium shopping, world class entertainment, and some of the best dining in Southeast Asia. New places are popping up all the time, and they are all state of the art.
With all of this being said, there are a few Macau casinos that strictly exist as a casino; there is no hotel attached.
As you can clearly see, the way in which casinos exist in Macau is significantly different than the way they exist in the United States. Rather than categories like riverboat or Native American casinos, the industry is strictly run and controlled by private interest. With that being said, there are plenty of times where the government of China intervenes in gambling operations in one form or another.
The gambling history and casino history of Macau really began to take shape back in 1850. During this time, the region was still controlled by Portuguese colonists. At that time, and in an effort to generate further revenues for the region, the ruling government decided to officially legalize gambling in its myriad forms.
In the early days, the Portuguese law allowed for Chinese gambling houses to exist so long as they paid an annual tax. Within a year, there were more than 250 gambling houses located across the region. Things went along like the for decades, but in the 1950s and 60s it was quickly realized that something would need to chance if Macau would ever stand a fighting chance against global gambling destinations like Las Vegas and Monte Carlo.
Quickly, there was substantial efforts put into modernizing the gambling facilities that existed as well as creating new, state of the art gambling facilities. It wasn’t only the gambling facilities the received a facelift, as the whole transportation in and out of the region was revamped as to accommodate foreign travelers as opposed to accommodating somewhat local regulars.
Despite Macau being handed over by Portugal to the People’s Republic of China, there were no changes made to the gambling industry. This was something that caught a lot of people by surprise simply because China is not so casino-friendly.
Shortly after the 1999 handover of the region, the government of China granted a plethora of foreign operators rights to build and operate casinos of their own in Macau. At this point, Macau went from being a gambling destination known to few, to a gambling destination known the world over. With names like MGM and Wynn entering the market in the early 2000s, they brought along with them a whole lot of attention. Since then, the number of casinos in the region has grown and so too have revenues. As we go forward, it will be interesting to see how the Macau casino industry can keep up seeing that there are plenty of other Asian countries and regions who are on the verge of introducing legalized gambling destinations of their own.