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Macau – Las Vegas of the East

Macau is a fascinating place – I last went there a couple of years ago, soon after the opening of the Sands Macau Casino. It was great – a real mix of East meets West, old tourist relics and icons, alongside grand casinos. I’d love to go back again soon.

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Macau is a fascinating place – I last went there a couple of years ago, soon after the opening of the Sands Macau Casino. It was great – a real mix of East meets West, old tourist relics and icons, alongside grand casinos. I’d love to go back again soon. Why? Because since that visit the new Wynn Macau has opened, as has the Venetian Macau – now the LARGEST casino in the world! With 550,000 square feet of gaming space, it easily eclipses the previous record of around 350,000 feet at Foxwoods Connecticut (USA) – which I’ve also played in.

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Macau has reasonable slots, but is more of a table players paradise. The limits on tables are higher here than in Las Vegas / Reno / Tahoe / Atlantic City. There is a huge emphasis on Asian games of choice like baccarat, tai sai, and pai gow (dominoes) also – certainly more tables offered for these games than in many western casinos. For a blackjack player like myself, the higher the limits the better. If as a semi-professional you’re playing to acheive an “hourly rate” of income, it might as well be bigger rather than smaller right?

The comps are more difficult to come by here than in the USA. Partly that’s a language / cultural issue, but partly its also because it’s harder to stand out as a “high roller” alongside the local (primarily) Asian population. In the USA, betting $100 – $200 USD per hand for 4 to 5 hours at a time gets you pretty much anything you need. In Macau, bets of that size are very commonplace. Therefore you need to be betting even higher to get any level of recognition. That’s not always true: some of the older casinos are starting to get “looser” on their comp policies with the new competition in town – but it will take a while before it reaches typical US comp levels. Service levels in the casinos are generally high.

Got some spare cash to throw around? Buy property in this new gambling mecca, I think. I wish I had 3 years ago – prices have already risen sharply. As more and more Westerners adopt Macau as a holiday destination, it’s bound to attract even more foreign investment – which can only be good for those property prices. I’m basing this assumption on the exponential increases in value Las Vegas and other gambling hotspots have seen over the years. Macau has also shown a real appetite for luxury goods – Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and the like. The high-end shops in the Venetian Macau now have the highest grossing square-foot income in the WORLD.

So, lots going on already in Macau – but there are even more new casinos on the way – including the MGM Grand Macau which will open in a new or so. For the first time, the gaming revenues in Macau this year BEAT LAS VEGAS revenues – in other words, Macau is making more money from gambling than Las Vegas is! And it seems that the chasm is only likely to get wider as time goes on. Macau doesn’t have the desert – but it does have two-thirds of the world’s population within a 6-hr flying zone.

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