Gambling in Macau has been legal since the 1850s when the Portuguese government legalised the activity in the autonomous colony. Since then, Macau has become known worldwide as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”.
Gambling tourism is Macau’s biggest source of revenue, making up about 50% of the economy. Visitors are made up largely of Chinese nationals from the mainland China and Hong Kong. With the entry of large foreign casinos from Las Vegas and Australia, Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip in gaming revenues in 2007.
Until Western-style casino games were introduced in the 20th century, only Chinese games were played, the most popular being Fan-Tan. Generally, gambling in Macau can be divided into one of four categories: casino games, greyhound racing, sports betting, and lotteries. At the present time, Macau does not license online gaming operations.
Macau, a special administrative region like Hong Kong, is the only place in China where casinos are legal, and the business has grown at an astounding pace since the government ended the four-decade gambling monopoly of the Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho in 2001.
Macau has 33 casinos, of which the biggest is The Venetian Macao. Twenty-three casinos are located on the Macau Peninsula and ten on Taipa Island. They all operate under a government franchise and under a common set of rules.
The main casino operators in Macau are SJM Holdings, Galaxy Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands with respective revenues of 9.7, 4.8, and 4.2 billion in 2011.
A wide range of games are available, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat, boule, Sic bo, Fan Tan, keno and slot machines.
Poker was introduced only in August 2007, in an electronic table format at Galaxy Starworld casino. The first live poker tournament was the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau event in November 2007. Shortly thereafter, in January 2008, the government of Macau published the official rules for Texas hold ’em poker games in Macau. In February 2008, Grand Lisboa Casino added the first live-dealer cash game tables. In May 2008, ‘PokerStars Macau’ opened at Grand Waldo Casino. In November 2008, Texas Holdem’ Poker opened at Wynn Macau. ‘PokerStars Macau’ moved to a new location at the Grand Lisboa Casino in March 2009. Today, Wynn Macau, StarWorld, and the Venetian offer live-dealer cash game poker tables.
Gambling has been legal in Macau since around 1850. There was a licensing system for gambling houses until 1863. Beginning in 1934, casinos’ ownership and operation was centralised; through private negotiations, some franchises monopolised the operation right of all the casinos. The casino industry was controlled by the STDM monopoly for 39 years, but this changed in 2001 when casino licenses were offered to other casino operators, including American companies such as Las Vegas Sands (Sheldon Adelson) and Wynn Resorts. On 18 May 2004, the Sands Macau casino opened near the Macau Ferry Terminal. Despite being very profitable for investors, the gambling industry in Macau became unstable. In February 2015 Macau-based casinos reported a decline for eighth consecutive month