What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “gambling capital of the world”? While everyone thinks of a neon-lit city tucked away in the Nevada desert (Las Vegas), the sole holder of this title is Macau .
Interestingly, Macau was not called the capital of anything for a long time, and foreigners from the West often called this city the Asian Monte Carlo, the first European MrGreen.com casino, or simply the Las Vegas of the East. Today, none of these descriptions fit Macau, because without a doubt, it is the gambling capital of the world.
Undoubtedly, Macau has not always been the center of gambling, as it is today. Its transformation began in the 1960s when Stanley Ho, one of the backers of gambling, created the ideal conditions for casinos to become a multi-billion dollar industry.
How did Macau become the gambling capital of the world?
During the Portuguese rule of Macau in 1840, local administrators looked for additional sources of income to replenish the king’s treasury. Under the new decree, gambling houses were among the approved activities for the extra money.
According to Camilo Pessanha, a Portuguese poet living in Macau at the time, the small, backward settlement quickly turned into a “heap of material and moral rubbish.” There was no such glitz or kitsch as it is now.
However, the people of Hong Kong and southern China could no longer resist the attraction of the city as early as the 19th century . During the rainy season, immigrants began to flock across the border, and the treasury of the Portuguese king quickly filled.
How did Stanley Ho build Macau?
Turning a morally dubious city into the gambling capital of the world was no easy task. Although not completely, the first modern casinos began to take shape in the 1920s .
After the Stanley Ho syndicate licensed the gaming monopoly in the 60s, the so-called casino barons of Macau were defeated. As a result, No founded the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM).
Although by the time Noh passed away, the grandfather of the city’s gambling industry owned roughly one-third of the industry. Although he left without any hassle, his two MrGreen children were caught in internal strife.
Entry to China
Even though Stanley Ho made Macau the gambling capital of the world, it wasn’t until China took the region under its wing under the “one country, two systems” formula that the banditry that had spiraled out of control due to Portugal’s neglect was curbed. Powerful criminal groups began a power struggle as Portugal withdrew from the region and prepared to hand over territory to China.
Street fighting between gang members broke out throughout the city as bombs exploded and murders took place. Broken Tooth, the leader of one triad, ruthlessly consolidated his dominance over rival gangs and ordinary citizens.
However, China had other plans. When Portugal officially handed over the reins in 1999, it sent a clear message by marching its army through the city center and announcing that all gang violence would stop immediately. Macau was the first and last European colony in China. As a result of the crackdown on violence and the arrest of Broken Tooth and his assistants, the gambling industry began to thrive again.
Chinese control has turned a new leaf – Gambling Capital of The World
China may be fanatically anti-gambling, pursuing it at home and abroad, but Macau provided an opportunity to try something different. There was a lot of black market gambling in China, so the country decided to channel this demand to Macau.
As part of its commitment to market liberalization and allowing foreign investment in Macau, China has pledged to make it the world gambling capital. Various big brands began to arrive from all over the Pacific, bringing their experience in casino management and building and drawing inspiration from the local culture. Brands that opened the store included:
Las Vegas Sands
In addition, tourists quickly began to arrive from abroad with China. The Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) reports that 39,406,181 people visited Macau in 2019 . The number of visitors has increased significantly since 2001, when less than a million people visited.
Thanks to China’s economic rise, many wealthy Chinese can afford to travel and indulge in expensive leisure activities such as gambling. Therefore, brands began to copy European and American cities in order to stimulate interest in the East.
To date, Venetian Macau remains the largest casino in the world, second only to WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma. In addition to 3,400 slot machines , the establishment has 800 gaming tables covering 546,000 square feet .
What does gambling in Macau include?
Known as the gambling capital of the world, Macau offers a gaming experience unmatched by most other gambling centers. You often find yourself in the casinos of Macau, visiting the rich and brightly lit royal halls with fountains built into the center and chandeliers hanging treacherously overhead with thousands of tiny lights.
Incandescent bursts of color emanate from models of volcanoes. However, as far as real gambling is concerned, this is only the beginning. Macau has over 41 casinos with slots and table games, as well as private VIP rooms reserved for the most connected players. Venetian Macau has 3,000 rooms and one of the largest gaming floors in the city. Cotai Arena, the indoor casino venue, has hosted all kinds of entertainment performances over its long history.
Chinese New Year is a particularly auspicious time for gamblers to cross the border between Hong Kong and China to play baccarat, blackjack and craps, which are the most popular games of chance among Asians. Western gambling revolves around cheap slot machines, while Macau focuses exclusively on real money games.
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International investment in Macau – Gambling Capital of The World
Casinos are one of the largest sources of income for the Chinese government. For example, in 2001, Macau collected 40% of taxes on gambling-related income, and this rose to 81% of all taxes in 2011 . The reason for such large-scale changes was investment in Chinese real estate and the struggle for licenses for casinos.
In the past, the only company with a casino management license was Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, SA (STDM) . However, since 2002, several multinational firms and joint ventures have been licensed to operate casinos. The project has attracted companies from all over the world, including several hotels in Las Vegas, including MGM, Galaxy, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts. Several corporations have invested heavily in Macau’s new casino resorts, with luxury being the deciding factor.
Land was needed to complete all these building projects. In addition, land reclamation projects were required, since Macau was originally only a peninsula and a few islands. Macau’s area has grown from 11.6 square kilometers in 1990 to 29.7 square kilometers in 2010 . The new land that connects Taipu and Coloane is home to these large casino resorts.