Chinese legislation in relation to the gambling business is one of the most stringent. Providing gambling services in the country is allowed only in a special zone – in Macau. Furthermore, the Chinese authorities have banned online casinos and other gambling portals.
Outside the territory of Macao, residents and visitors of Hong Kong are entitled to bet on horse races. At the same time, the lottery is allowed in every corner of China. Floating casinos – one more opportunity to enjoy gambling in China.
Macau is the only place where you can visit a legal casino. Opening a gambling venue in another region of the country is prohibited. Internet gambling in China was officially banned in 2012 when the authorities cancelled all permits for the provision of gambling services on the Internet. In this regard, foreign operators are not willing to accept clients from China.
Although online slots for real money are banned throughout the country, you can play without any problems on free slot machines. If you are on the territory of China, you can run slot games on a gambling website. Sometimes games don’t launch if the provider decided that a resource contains any elements of gambling entertainment. In some cases, access is limited without explanation.
Gambling in Macau
The second informal name of Macau is “Las Vegas of Asia” because the administrative district is the only place in the country where gambling is allowed. The main segment of region’s players – residents of Hong Kong. The region has more than 30 casinos.
In China, Macau gambling business revenue is higher than in Las Vegas (however, the Chinese version of the non-gambling segment is weaker). More than 70% of the region population work in the sphere of gambling services. Due to this, there is relatively low unemployment rate. Residents of the region can easily find a job as a dealer, salesman, manager, show assistant, porter, tour guide. Besides, 70% of the treasury of Macau is a profit from the gambling industry in China.
Despite the prosperity of gambling, casinos in Macau are a relatively new type of business. The construction of the first American-style gambling venues began only in 2004. Within three years, more than one million square meters of land had been covered by casinos. At least USD 2.4 bln was spent on this project. The main investor of such initiatives became a businessman from the United States Sheldon Adelson – a Chief of a large corporation “Las Vegas Sands”. Thanks to the entrepreneur, Macau gambling venues started offering American and European roulette variations, different types of poker and other gambling games. Age for gambling in Macau for tourists is 18 years of age.
Popular Macau gambling
The gambling industry in China is divided into three categories: online casino games, horse racing, greyhound racing. Popular activities in casinos – slots, blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette. Also, casinos offer to try a variety of games with eastern themes, for example, Sic-Bo and Chinese Poker.
Macau has 33 casinos. The most popular of them are:
- Grand Lisboa;
- MGM Grand;
- Galaxy Rio Casino;
- City of Dreams.
The history of the Chinese gambling business
Gambling age of China is very significant. It’s not an accident that Chinese are considered one of the most gambling nations because the first record of cash games was made 4000 years ago on the territory of China when the country was ruled by the first royal dynasty.
Gambling in ancient China gained a special popularity in the first millennium AD. Thus, cultural achievements of the country are not only paper and gunpowder but also a variety of casino entertainment including lotteries, Mahjong and Pai Gow. Besides, there is a version that card games for money are also a merit of the Chinese.
The first casinos in the country appeared in the beginning of VII century. These places very vaguely resembled modern casinos. The first gambling venues were available to all visitors, the status and level of income did not matter.
The most common visitors of gambling houses were exactly poor people. But in the Middle Ages, casinos became a privilege of a higher class and many gambling venues were owned by representatives of mafia and officials.
The modern history of China’s gaming business
Gambling history in China of the second half of the XIX century and the first half of the XX is characterised by the spread of gambling in Shanghai. Large casinos operated in the city, they were visited by players from all over Celestial Empire. Customers of Shanghai casinos had the opportunity to experience local and European gambling. However, the coming to power of the Communist Party led to the prohibition of gambling in all cities and localities of China.
As for Macau, this region was a colony of Portugal in the XIX century. Portuguese authorities decided to legalise gambling there. In 1999, the region became a part of China, but it hadn’t affected gambling activities. On the contrary, Macau became the only place in China where casinos are permitted. In addition, since 2002, opening this business on the territory of the administrative district is allowed both to Chinese citizens and foreigners.
It is thanks to Macau casinos have become one of the main attractions of gambling culture in China. Thus, half of the tourists who visited China in 2010 had visited one of the casinos.
The Chinese nation is considered one of the most gambling despite the fact that for many years, the Chinese authorities exerted pressure on gambling or even prohibitув it. This is due to the fact that the standard of living can significantly fall because of gambling, and this increases the risk of popular uprisings.
Features of casinos in Macau
Every day, thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Macau to try their luck in a casino. Gambling has been legalised here since 1847. It’s interesting, that the US government began to regulate the gambling business only 84 years later. Gambling has never been oppressed in the region, casinos have always flourished. In 1557, originally Chinese region became a colony of Portugal. Only 442 years later, Macau came back to the Middle Kingdom. The Chinese authorities had decided to keep casinos of Macau despite the fact that gambling is prohibited throughout the state.
The history of gambling in Macau began in the XIX century when the first casinos opened, they belonged to the representatives of the criminal world. In those days, many gambling venues provided gambling services on credit. Therefore, players who could not stop were desperate debtors. In China, that was a gambling problem. The need to repay debts forced many residents of Macau travel abroad. At the beginning of the XX century, the local authorities decided to grant the right to conduct gambling exclusively Stanley Ho.
For a long time, Macau gambling industry has been associated exclusively with the name of the entrepreneur. Stanley Ho founded the holding company Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings and constantly opened new casinos. But in 2002, authorities have decided to grant gambling licenses in China to three operators at once: Las Vegas Sands, WYNN and Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings. Some companies had received sub-licenses. In this regard, six casinos immediately appeared in the region.
How to enter Macau casinos
To get into a casino of Macau, you must follow such gambling rules in China:
- provide a document confirming the identity;
- tourists must show the visa allowing to enter the country;
- some casinos require visitors to present a credit card;
- comply with the dress code – although he is quite strict, it doesn’t affect casino attendance.
In 2007, the first poker tables appeared in Macau. Today, the region actively holds poker tournaments.
Each casino has slot machines, poker tables, blackjack, roulette, baccarat. Of cause, they offer traditional oriental entertainment such as Sic Bo, Chinese poker, keno.
Currently, Macau is a part of UNESCO World Heritage List. And in terms of income from gambling activities, statistics of gambling in Macau shows that it surpassed Las Vegas a long time ago.
The most famous casinos in Macau reviews
- Venetian Casino Resort – an extravagant casino, where you can often find the world’s celebrities. This is one of the largest casinos in the world. In addition to the playing hall, you can visit the large shopping centre and get one of the three thousand rooms in the hotel. Casino name speaks for itself – architects managed to recreate the atmosphere of Venice. The casino has an artificial river full of sailing gondolas.
- City of Dreams Macau – a real paradise, which is recognised as one of the best gambling recreation options. The casino can boast the largest gambling hall. Frequent regulars of the gambling club are Asian celebrities and guests from America.
- The Sands Macau – a casino stylised as gambling clubs in Las Vegas. The program of the casino is full of popular shows and tastings of interesting dishes. Today, the casino is the largest in the world. It offers good conditions for high rollers – there are no limits on bets here.
- Casino Lisboa – it is one of the oldest casinos of Asia. It is often compared with the new gambling venues. It was renovated in 2007 and decorated in classic European style. If you want to play here in roulette or card games, you may be a bit surprised because they are adapted to the needs of customers from Asia.
- Wynn Macau – it is a relatively young casino that opened in 2006. It is almost two times less than the giant The Sands, but it is gradually expanding. It is focused on the middle segment and high rollers. If you are just starting to play, you probably cannot afford to play here.
- Galaxy Rio Casino – another remarkable casino with a pleasant atmosphere. The range of available games is not very different from other clubs. Many customers who visited it wouldn’t mind returning.
Residents and visitors of China have the opportunity to try gambling outside of Macau without violating the laws of the state. To do this, large ships or small barges transport those wishing to have fun in the neutral waters where legal restrictions do not work.
Mahjong as a gambling game
A very popular gambling game in Macau, China in general and other Asian countries is Mahjong. This entertainment requires using gambling dice. The main objective is to collect maximum points. Four people can be involved in the game can simultaneously. Mahjong should not be confused with a solitaire that is played by office workers.
Despite the fact that gambling is officially allowed only in Macao, Mahjong game, that is considered an intellectual game by Chinese, is spread in all regions and many gambling towns of China. This game is one of the most common at weddings, birthdays, parties. At the same time, people play mahjong for money. The legal age for gambling in China for locals is 21 years of age. The government hasn’t managed to cope with this passion of the population.
It is China where Keno lottery appeared. According to one version, this gambling was invented by commander Cheng Lin. This initiative had helped him to support the army. The fact is that the people of China invented all sorts of tricks not to pay for military training. But the lottery has corrected this situation. Since then, Lottery Keno rapidly gained popularity and continues to be a favourite gambling activity in China.
There is a legend that the Great Wall of China was built thanks to the lottery.
The mass migration of Chinese in the West has led to the fact that bingo has got to the United States. This kind of entertainment became popular among Americans very quickly, and they began to use numbers instead of Chinese characters.
Local game pai gow
Pai Gow is one of the most complex and popular gambling games available in Chinese casinos. The game involves 32 dominoes. It is often chosen by Asian casino customers. Rules of Pai Gow are quite complicated, so tourists rarely opt for this game. The purpose is to beat the dealer or other participants.
Poker in China
After the ban on gambling in 2010, online poker has also received illegal status. In China, a unique version of this game has developed for centuries. The essence of the game is to collect two or three combinations of 13 cards. One combination must consist of three cards, two others of five. One table can include from 2 to 4 members. Players need to plays the cards in three rows and compare combinations. Another important feature of this game – there are no classical betting rounds.
It is important to note, that the ban on visiting online poker resources applies not only to local players but also tourists. If you are in China, take note of this. When you try to go to Pokerstars or another site, access will be denied by the Chinese firewall. And any attempt to circumvent such a ban is a subject of penalty for gambling in China.
A peculiar alternative to poker is a game of mahjong.
Fans of offline poker have many opportunities in Macau casinos. There is a unique poker room PokerStars LIVE which is the only constant offline playground of a poker giant Amaya.
Foreign poker players always admit the weakness of the pool of local Chinese players. Macau also holds major stages of Asian and world poker tournaments.
Despite the strict attitude of the Chinese authorities to the gambling business, Macau area can offer many interesting things for fans of gambling.
This region is a real gambling mecca of Asia. And if you are in China and want to gamble, your path will necessarily lead you to this peninsula and gamble without problems in Macau.
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