When we say Macau, the first thing that comes to mind is gambling. And true enough, Macau is the gambling capital of Asia. It is the equivalent of Las Vegas in the West. This land, which is one of the two administrative regions of China, is the Sin City of the East.
How did it come to be? The gambling industry in Macau is so alive that even top dogs like MGM Grand Wynn have operations here. What is Macau’s history, and how did it become the gambling capital of Asia?
A Century Ago
Gaming in Macau has been legal since the 1850s. Yes, there wasn’t so much restriction on the land as far back as a century ago. At that time, Macau was a colony of the Portuguese government. It was the same government that legalized gambling. Thus, Macau earned the nickname of “Gambling Capital of the World.”
Gambling is the land’s biggest source of income. The gambling industry makes up 50% of the economy. In other countries that do not have a physical gambling industry, they have a reliance on online gambling, like GGbet casino games.
During this period, most of the people who came here to gamble were rich people from mainland China and Hong Kong. Macau is one of the top destinations of gambling in Asia; as an Easterner, it was and is no longer a necessity to go to the West if you want to gamble.
Just imagine if you are a rich person in Malaysia—why would you have to travel to Las Vegas when you have easy access to Macau?
In the early 2000s, major developments happened in Macau. Western companies were allowed to open up shops like MGM Grand. This boosted the gambling industry and also caused many gambling patrons of the west to come over and play. The entry of large western casinos made Macau the biggest gambling destination. It has become so big that it has surpassed Las Vegas in gambling revenues.
During this period, the government of Portugal granted gambling licenses to about 200 gambling houses in Macau. These gambling houses were called fantan. They were required to pay taxes and “rent” to the government. The Portuguese government had to do this to enable Macau to produce revenues.
In Modern Times
In 1937, the same government granted a gambling license concession to the Tai Heng company, and it monopolized the gambling licenses of all gambling facilities. It was the only one that could grant a gambling license.
The problem with Tai Heng is that its leaders were not visionaries. They failed to exploit the full potential of gambling. In 1962, the government granted monopoly rights to Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. This group is a syndicate of businessmen that are not often referred to as (STDM).
This monopoly right gave STDM a right to all forms of gambling. It was STDM that introduced games that came from the West. They also made it possible to modernize the marine transport between Hong Kong and Macau, making it easier for people from Hong Kong to travel to Macau.
The result was astonishing, to say the least. Millions of people from Hong Kong flocked to Macau every year. STDM was granted an extension of the license in 1986. This license was to last for 15 years, but it expired in 2001.
In 1999, the Portuguese government handed over Macau to China. It was then that Macau became a special administrative region. Macau is not a country—it is part of China. However, it is autonomous from China. It is one of those things that represent the saying “one nation, two systems.”
After this transition, Macau and China did not introduce any of its existing policies in gambling. It was in 2002 when Macau made some changes. This time, three separate licenses were issued to three different groups for concession. These three are:
- Sociedade de Jogos de Macau
- MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho Chiu-king
- Melco and PBL
That change allowed western casino companies to go to Macau and build. They moved quickly. The Sands Macau opened in 2004. As of 2020, there are 16 casinos that STDM operates. All these are critical in the economy of Macau.
Today, Macau relies on gambling. Without it, the economy is going to fall apart. Macau is the most densely populated area in the world because of the gambling industry. During the pandemic, the gambling institutions were closed. Many players could only play online in casinos like GGbet.
As people learn to live with COVID-19, casinos in Macau have been slowly re-opening. This is going to boost its revenue from the slump, but it is far from getting Macau back on its feet. It will take years before Macau can operate normally again.
Macau is one of those things that show why China has become a superpower. It is a symbol of globalization. It is a story that tells us how China rose from poverty. Today, China’s citizens are seen in great numbers around the world. They have risen from poverty, and they can now see the world as tourists.
If you are considering visiting the East, you have to give Macau a shot. Stay in the area for three days. Gambling is not the only thing offered here. Macau is rich in cultural history, and there are lots of night shows that you can watch.