Macao Bringing in the Cash

June 12, 2012

In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau’s harbors and to carry out trade.  Then in 1557, they established a permanent settlement there. Moreover, this Western love affair for Macau has not ended. Analysts reported that total public revenue for January 2012 rose by 21.5% when compared to the same month in 2011, and it is all thanks to gambling tax revenue. Source: Calvin

Since Macau was returned to China in 1999, it has overtaken Las Vegas to become the world’s biggest gambling mecca. Since 1999, Macau, along with Hong Kong, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, and it is situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong-Kong.

The next building trend was to expand into a global entertainment and high-end shopping hub along with leisure activities leading to tourism with gambling leading the way.

However, gambling remains Macao’s main moneymaker. Almost every business depends on gambling to survive.

In addition to gambling and tourism, Macao includes some manufacturing, and the days of Chinese Triads having shooting wars for control of the streets have gone.

Instead, Macao has become a territory where Chinese democracy advocates may speak out without fear and become elected to Macao’s legislature.

The PRC has promised not to meddle in Macao’s politics. One thing is apparent— many in Macao want the economy to have diversity that does not depend on gambling alone. However, MGM Resorts International’s net profit doubled to HK$3.28 billion from HK$1.57 billion—boosted by strong growth in casino revenues, which tells us that gambling is still king in Macau. Source: The Wall Street Journal


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This edited and revised post first appeared November 20, 2010