Macau - Monte Carlo of the Orient
Macau was a Portuguese colony and both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the December 1999.
The territory's economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, gambling tourism making up about 50% of the economy. Gambling in Macau has been legal since the 1850s when the Portuguese government legalized the activity in the colony. Since then, Macau has become known worldwide as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient". Visitors are made up largely of Chinese nationals from the mainland 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 (Chinese gambling houses are in fact called fantan houses). Generally, gambling in Macau can be divided into three different categories: casino games, horse racing and greyhound racing. There is also sports betting and a number of lotteries. At the present time, Macau does not license online gaming operations.
The latest figures show that gaming revenues in Macau surged more than 42 per cent in 2011. Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau confirmed that the enclave's casinos recorded a 25 per cent year-on-year increase in gross gaming revenues in December to USD 3 billions. This brought the combined total revenues for 2011 to 42.2 per cent increase on the previous year.
Macau Casinos are 33, the biggest being The Venetian Macau in the photo below. Many forms of gambling are legal there, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, boule, Sic bo, Fan Tan, keno, videop poker and slot machines.
Poker is a relatively new game in the city. Here is the chronology of events that have recently boosted poker popularity.
- August 2007: Poker was introduced in an electronic table format at Galaxy Starworld Casino.
- November 2007: the first live poker tournament took place; it was the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau event.
- January 2008: the government of Macau published the official rules for Texas hold 'em poker games in Macau.
- February 2008: Grand Lisboa Casino added the first live-dealer cash game tables in Macau.
- May 2008: 'PokerStars Macau' opened at Grand Waldo Casino.
- November 2008: Texas Holdem Poker opened at Wynn Macau and the "Learn to Play" table is available.
- March 2009: 'PokerStars Macau' moved to a new location, at the Grand Lisboa Casino.