In all of China, only Macau allows legalized gambling. The former Portuguese colony has a long tradition of gaming stemming from small-time card room and venues operated by criminal elements to today’s world class gambling options, fully compliant with government oversight and guaranteed safe and secure.
Gambling is big business in Macau. Last year alone, Macau gambling interests took in more than $36 million in revenue from casinos. That’s five times the amount of revenue taken in by Las Vegas gambling venues in 2012. Just being close to Hong Kong, mainland China, and surrounding Asian nations brings in 14 million tourists a year, many of whom are interested in playing casino games. Almost 90 percent of these tourists come from the mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Macau has been likened to a Las Vegas on steroids. Gaming revenues in the island city have risen 20 percent a month in the last year, according to the Macau Gaming inspection and Coordination Bureau. Even with economic growth slowing in China, tourists and gaming revenues have consistently grown, bureau officials say.
Responding to this tremendous growth in gaming, casino corporations have jumped in full throttle to capitalize on the interest. More than $25 billion in projects related to gaming have been initiated in Macau in the last two years. The new gambling venues are expected to employ more than 35,000 workers ranging from construction workers to blackjack dealers, executives to cocktail lounge employees.
With the increased emphasis on gambling, however, some negativity must be overcome. While Macau residents have reaped the rewards in terms of better jobs and living conditions, they also have suffered some social costs. Social welfare networks have been stretched thin while health and transportation services have been sorely tested. Property has become more expensive and housing is much more scarce.
However, Macau leaders, business people, and much of the community have benefited from the influx of tourists and capital with the best yet to come, gaming officials promise.