Macau, the Next Vegas? Las Vegas Beginnings


Macau is an area off the southern China coast,north or the islands of Taipa and Coloane in the South China Sea. Macau is 28.2 sq km and connects to Taipa by 3 bridges and the land is mostly urban development.


Macau became the first European settlement after the Portuguese arrived in China in the early 16th century. They turned the area into a trading post governed by the Portuguese but owned by the Chinese. Macau became a neutral port during the Second World War after the Japanese occupied Hong Kong in 1943. Japan continued power until August 1945. China didn’t reclaim Macau until December 20th, 1999 which up to that time, China had considered Macau to be a “Chinese territory under temporary Portuguese administration”.

Population Facts

In 2008 the population of Macau was recorded to be 545,674. The majority of people are between the ages of 15 and 64, Chinese decent makes up the majority of the population with only 5.7 percent being of other decent. The language spoken is mostly Cantonese, and over 90 percent of the population can read and write. Half of the population are Buddhist, the other half Roman Catholic, none or other religions.


The two biggest industries are tourism and gaming. The only legal gambling area in China, Macau has attracted foreign investments since 2001 in the tens of billions of dollars. Gaming accounts for 75 percent of government revenue and in 2006 surpassed the revenue generated on the Las Vegas Strip. Macau’s economy is growing at approximately 27 percent making 2007’s GDP or Purchasing Power Parity over 19 billion dollars. Macau’s tourism in 2007 was up 62 percent to 27 million visitors since 2003.

The Casinos

The main strip of casinos and hotels is 2.9 km long and called the Cotai Strip, which is home to 26 casinos. The number of casinos should double in number by 2009. The first American casino to be built and opened was the Sands Macao. The Sands Macao is one of the largest casinos in the world, cost $240 million to build and is 229,000 sq feet. The Las Vegas Sands corporation also build the Venetian Macao modeled after the The Venetian in Las Vegas, cost $2.4 billion to build and is the largest hotel in Asia and the 3rd largest building in the world. The casino opened in August 2007, has 3000 suites and has the largest casino space in the world at 550,000 sq feet. Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation plans to invest $12 billion by 2010 towards opening more hotels such as the Four Seasons and The Sheraton. Macau Peninsula is home to over 38 casinos, and the Cotai Strip has been growing rapidly since the opening of The Venetian Macao, followed by Galaxy Mega Resort in 2008 and 2009 will see the openings of City of Dreams, Far East Consortium Complex, Four Seasons, and Macau Studio City.

Louise Author