Besides the almost 1,000 casinos in the U.S., there are many places around the world that offer casinos. On of them is Macau (also spelled Macao). It is officially known as the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
It is an autonomous territory on the southern coast of the People’s Republic of China, about 38 miles southeast of Hong Kong. It consists of the Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are now connected by landfill forming Cotai. Portuguese Macau, was administered by the Portuguese Empire from mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was returned to mainland China. At the time it was the last remaining European colony in all of Asia.
Macau is one of the world’s richest cities; as of 2013 its GDP per capita by purchasing power parity is higher than that of any country in the world. According to the World Bank, it became the world’s largest gambling center in 2006, with the economy heavily dependent on gambling and tourism. That year it surpassed Las Vegas in total gaming revenues.
Macau is known as “The Monte Carlo of the Orient” due to its many casinos such as the Venetian, Wynn and the Lisboa, resulting in a total of 33 casinos on the island. Earlier, starting in 1962, the gambling industry had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho’s Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas entered the market.
With the opening of the Sands Macau in 2004 and Wynn Macau in 2006, gambling revenues from Macau’s casinos grew considerably prosperous. In 2007, Venetian Macau, at the time the second (now seventh) largest building in the world by floor space, opened its doors, followed by MGM Grand Macau. Numerous other hotel-casinos, including Galaxy Cotai Megaresort, opened in 2011. Currently, there are about 14,200 gaming machines and 5,800 total table games available to play at.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW
- At the Sands Macau Casino, to help bring good fortune, the concept of “8” is interwoven throughout the casinos interior design. In Chinese culture, 8, not 7 as in most Western cultures, is believed to bring luck and power.
- At one time the New Century Hotel-Casino in Macau had 500 table/poker games available making it the most of any casino in the world.
- In Macau, in their casinos a deck of cards is used only once or twice, and then destroyed. Chinese are very superstitious gamblers; a fresh deck is always in demand.
- The Macau Venetian offers more than 800 gaming tables and over 3,400 gaming machines, but only one craps table. Making it the largest gaming facility in the world.
- It was in the 1850s that the Portuguese Government first granted gaming houses licenses in Macau.
- All the casinos in Macau are accessible without charge, however; “smart dress” (men: jacket & tie, women: upscale dress) is required. There is also a minimum age requirement of 18 for visitors and 21 for locals in all casinos. Also the casinos accept only Hong Kong dollars and local Macau Patacas.
- Hydrofoils from Hong Kong depart for the island of Macau every 15 minutes, every single day of the year.
- Many Chinese believe the color red is lucky and white and green unlucky. The staffs in Macau’s casinos never wear red and the décor throughout the casinos are adorned in white and green making the “house unlucky.”
- There appears to be no word in the Chinese language for “playing-cards,” which are lumped together with other gaming devices such as dice, dominoes, chess-pieces, under a generic title meaning “objects for gambling.”
- In the first six days after the Sands Macau casino opened in May 2004, 500,000 people past through its doors.