10 staggering things you should know about Macau

Macau, the former Portuguese colony, lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta to the east of Hong Kong and it was the last remaining European colony in China until in 1999 it became independent from Portugal. Since then Macau has been known as the „Monte Carlo of the Orient”. Gambling is the biggest source of revenue in the country making up about 50% of the economy.

1. Macau has 33 casinos. 23 are located on the Macau Peninsula and 10 casinos on Taipa Island. The biggest and the most famous one is named The Venetian Macau. All casinos operate under a government franchise.

2. The gaming revenue rose 42% in 2011. Although a huge slump was anticipated by experts for 2011, somehow it did not happen. Macau was steadily marching ahead, destroying Las Vegas in every area that matters. 24 % growth was predicted for 2012, but it was overachieved by 4 %.

3. In 2006 the revenues of Macau had surpassed those of Las Vegas and since then the latter is lagging behind. Nowadays the money that is passing through Macau is approximately six times more than the amount going through Las Vegas.

4. There is a 2,500 kilogram bronze and gold statue of “God of Fortune” in Sands Cotai Central Casino. The statute costs $4.4 billion and weighs 5,500 pound. The casino is owned by a billionaire, Sheldon Adelson.

5. The casino named Sands Macau opened in 2004. It recouped its construction costs within a year. It means that the profit must have been about $265 million. It was the first US own casino in Macau and the owner is Steve Wynn.

6. Since the casino boom in Macau the unemployment rate has fallen back and now it is below 3%.

7. Casino Lisboa has a hotel with thousand rooms and six restaurants. The total area is 190,000 square feet which hosts 107 slots and 146 table games and it is not the biggest one. The Venetian Macau has 3000 suites, 3400 slot machines, 800 gaming tables and the total area of the casino is 550,000 square feet.

8. After the growth of the gambling industry, a new business called bate-ficha was developed. Bate-ficha is involved in selling customers “dead chips” which cannot be exchanged for cash at the casinos, only by bate-ficha men or women for commission. As it can be imagined, there are disputes among these businesses and debate is often settled in a violent way.

9. While in Europe and America the most frequently played game is poker, in Macau baccarat is the most popular one.

10. Las Vegas remains a bit more family oriented destination but Macau seems to attract the super-high rollers. Of course, they can be found in Las Vegas, too but there is no doubt that Macau rakes in the “serious gamblers”.

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