Macau: The Vegas of the Orient
Ask most Americans if they have heard of Macau and they will likely say no. Yet, Macau is not only the biggest gaming centre in Asia but the world itself.
Macau is Chinese territory, having become so in 1999 after the Portuguese ended their centuries-old colonial rule. It is a small territory, located only a short distance from mainland China, which packs a big punch.
Macau is only one-sixth the size of the District of Columbia and has a population of not even a million people yet it is far ahead of other gaming centres of the world like Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. Millions of visitors come to Macau every year solidifying it as the largest gaming hub in the entire world. Casinos line up the streets of the small territory with many of the wealthy Las Vegas casino owners setting up shop in Macau as well.
However, despite the glitz, glamour and revenue the casinos provide to this small territory they have had their fair share of criticism. Many are unhappy with the casinos and point to the rate of gambling addiction and the damage it has done to families in Macau. It has also been pointed out that the rise of the gaming industry has brought with it prostitution, drugs and corruption.
However, besides the casinos and gaming, there is more to Macau. It has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. Macau’s mixture of Portuguese and Chinese cultures translates into an interesting and unique local culture. The official languages of Macau are Portuguese and Cantonese. One will see Portuguese styled churches and buildings, with Chinese religious temples not too far away. The local cuisine is also a blend of Portuguese and Chinese dishes, something, one would imagine, doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.
Recently, though, there have been reports of the gaming industry slowing down and revenue declining. Many are starting to ask themselves whether the Casino boom is coming to an end. Only time will tell what the future of Macau is.