How Macau Became Capital of Gambling?

Macau is a special place in the East. City full of casinos in a country where both regular and online casino are illegal, China. How did that happen? Let’s see the history of Macau and its blossoming into Las Vegas of China.

Early History of the City

At first, it was a small, coastal settlement in south China. Many refugees fled there after the Mongol conquest. It was not a significant city until the Portuguese took the jurisdiction of Macau in the 16th century. 

European merchants had a trading post in Hong Kong, but after fighting with the Chinese ruling dynasty, they were forced to leave Hong Kong. They were seeking new settlements to trade in the East, especially in the Pearl River estuary region. Finally, they settled in Macau. 

The trading regulations were established in 1554, and Portugal got a permanent lease for the city in 1557, paying 500 taels of silver annually. It was the point when the town started to grow fast. It was a vital port during silk transport to Japan. After a few events in history, Macau became a port when merchants were forced to stop before entering Canton. 

The city had its ups and downs during centuries until World War II. Japanese army did not occupy Macau mainly because it was still under Portugal rule. The installed government advisors there. There were no military actions in Macau except American air raids due to the colonial government selling fuel to Japan. Later, Portugal was given over $20 million in compensation.

After World War II

Refugees from the Chinese Civil War fled to Macau and created a significant workforce. It enabled Macau’s economy to grow into textiles manufacturing and tourism. This was the moment when they legalised casino gaming. Residents rioted because they were not satisfied with Portugal rules. Colonialists slowly lost complete control over Macau. They were cooperating with communists to keep administration there. In 1987 Portugal and China signed regulations in which Portugal promised to give Macau under Chinese rule 1999.

Back to China

In 1999, Macau got back under Chinese rule after over 400 years of Portuguese jurisdiction. It was the moment when it started to become the capital of gambling. The casino industry was liberalised because it used to work under a monopoly controlled by the government. Foreign investors got wind of money they can earn in this new market. 

Stanley Ho—How He Built Macau We Can See Today?

Stanley Ho began his work in a Japanese transport company in Macau. He made his first significant amount of money on smuggling during World War II. With this money, he started his own companies. 

In 1961 there was a public tender for Macau’s gaming monopoly license. Ho, his business partners, Yip, as a Macau gambler and his brother-in-law decided in bidding. They won the public tender defeating casino barons. 

Ho’s business built the Lisboa Casino Hotel as its flagship and started to blossom. The hotel became known worldwide. Ho invested in Macau not only by casinos. He owned the world’s largest fleet of high-speed jetfoils to ferry people between Hong Kong and Macau. He took control over Macau Jockey Club and launched first in Asia a football and basketball lottery. 

Canadian and American governments discovered his links to the Chinese mafia and illegal activities, but he was still the owner of 1/3 of Macau’s gambling industry, including the famous Lisboa Casino.

Why is Macau the Capital of Gambling?

First, in this city, we can find the world’s biggest casino, Venetian Macau. It has 550,000 square feet of space for gamblers to play. It was built for the sake of the previous largest casino, Venetian in Las Vegas, which has 120,000 feet square. Macau’s one is the replica of American, but bigger. Of course, it is not the only casino in Macau. There are 41 of them over there. 

Casinos in Macau create an exceptional gambling experience. They don’t want to have it the same as in the West. They have their own market. In the USA, you will get a beer or cocktail in a casino. In Macau, there is complimentary tea. 

The difference is also in games’ popularity. Instead of poker and blackjack in the spotlight, we have baccarat. This game generates 85% revenue in casinos in Macau.

Gaming culture isn’t the same. Players check their cards in different ways, and they react to failure more seriously. Instead of a groan, you may hear a thud of the table. In the USA and Europe, gambling is treated as a leisure, hobby or just an opportunity to spend time with interesting people while playing. Chinese players are more concerned about financial gains from gambling, and it may be why they react more intensively when they lose. 

Chinese people are very superstitious, and they believe if they have good luck, they can be fortunate at the table. They think that they can control the outcome of the game based on random chance, and for them, it looks like an investment.


VIP Gambling

Gambling in Macau has two realities. Casino floors are ready to be filled up with thousands of people gambling hundreds of dollars, but there are also VIP rooms, and if you are willing to gamble in these, you may get a penthouse, ******* and private jet rides.

From those high rollers playing in VIP rooms, Macau makes its ¾ revenue. 

This is the capital of gambling, luxury gambling. VIP’s are the people who are ready to stake hundreds of thousands of dollars without sorrow when they lose them. They are only about 1% of Macau’s visitors, but they create almost $30 billion. It crazy amount of money. They are treated there like royalty because they are the primary source of money for gambling establishments. 


If you want to see a city like no other in Asia, and are bored of your go-to online casino/nettikasino, go to Macau. Capital of Gambling in the middle of the country where gambling is illegal altogether. Billions of dollars go through this city every year. It is the place where you can play on the average gaming floor or soak in luxury in a VIP room. 

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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