Gambling Macau-style has changed dramatically since the Macau Sands Casino opened in May. Sands Macau is a subsidiary of the Venetian company that owns its namesake hotel-casino complex in Las Vegas. Sands finally
brought Vegas pizzazz this city.
Emphasising entertainment above gambling, Sands Macau is the first in a 25-billion-pataca (US$3 billion) wave of new casinos openings in the coming years.
History of Macau casinos
The Macau Casino monopoly franchise was granted to the Tai Xing Company in 1937. Gambling in Macau was already legalized in 1847 under the rule of Portuguese and since then Macau has become known worldwide as the Monte Carlo of the Orient.
The company was, however, too conservative to fully exploit the potential of Macau casinos for development. Only Chinese games were provided by the company at the time.
The New Cotai Casino Strip
In 1962, the government granted the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau
(STDM) the monopoly rights to all forms of gambling. The liscence was extended
in 1986 for another 15 years but was expired afterwards.
Gambling in Macau plays an important role in the economy of the city.
New Macau Casino Plans
Another 30 American-style casino-resorts are being planned. By 2009, Macau
Casinos are expected to pull in more than US$5 billion annually – more than
In 1999, the year Macau returned to China, the casinos took only US$1 billion.
Since then, gaming receipts had reached US$2.7 billion by June 2004, according
to government figures.
This is almost equal to the US$3.4 billion taken in all of 2003. Economists expects the 2004 year-end figure to be US$5.2 billion. The gaming industry currently pays 37 percent of takings in tax.
Even Galaxy Macau Casino, the Hong Kong-owned company that entered the market at the same time, raked in more, with far fewer tables.
An estimated 80 percent of the US$373 million taken in June 2004 by the largest
and oldest casino operator: Stanley Ho’s SJM.Most of these came from high rollers of Macau Casino’s VIP rooms.
More casinos to come
Sands Macau Casino is just a taste of things to come. On a 100,000 sqm reclamation between two islands called the Cotai strip, it is leading a development that will by 2009 house at least 25 American-style resorts and casinos, including the US$1 billion Venetian Macau.
Stanley Ho himself plans two theme parks and the 40-story Grand
Lisboa casino hotel.
Galaxy Macau Casino built a 13-story gambling haven.
Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn will open a 600-room, 200-table complex.
Finally MGM, which pioneered the family casinos in Vegas, is opening a property with Ho’s daughter Pansy.
The strip is expected employ some 150,000 staff.