Macau's Casino Culture

These days, when people talk of Macau, it often isn't regarding the region's long and historic culture where China and the west first met. More and more, they will be talking about some aspect of Macau's ever growing gambling culture, and more often than not, its casinos.

Macau's casinos are the heart of a multi-billion dollar industry that attracts millions of people from China and all over the world each year. Now it has even overtaken Las Vegas as the number 1 gambling destination in the world in terms of revenue and visitors.

Ever since the Portuguese colonisers legalized gambling in 1847, it has remained the only place in China where it is legal. The casino culture started to make an appearance in 1962 when the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM) group of businessmen led by Stanley Ho were granted the monopoly for all gambling in Macau. They developed the industry and started to attract millions of gamblers from nearby Hong Kong and even improved the ferry service. The most famous casino from this era and still the most renowned is Casino Lisboa which was built in 1970 with a 12 story hotel.

The monopoly's grip was broken in 2002 by the Macau government and the floodgates truly opened. Other companies including such Las Vegas giants as MGM, Sands and Wynn finally got the chance to go to Macau and they have all been taking full advantage. Since 2002, the number of casinos has risen to 33. They provide of course all the world's common games as well as other Chinese games that might not be so well known.

Casino Lisboa which has been extended to a 190,000 sq. ft casino floor with 1000 hotel rooms is known for its old style features and excellent restaurants. The Sands Macau, MGM Grand Macau, Wynn Macau and the City of Dreams are all known for their huge casino floors, hundreds of game tables, massive luxurious hotels and restaurants. The most eye-catching though has to be the Venetian Macau, the 5th largest building in the world by floor area, which has a 550,000 sq. ft. casino floor, 3000 suites, convention centers and retail stores.

A visit to any of Macau's casinos will be a memorable time, be it good or bad for your bank account!