Millions Enjoy Gambling in Macau
Macau is the only province in China where gambling at land-based casinos is legal, and last year’s figure of 18.7 million visitors shows just how popular Macau has become. Gambling figures have also increased by 12 percent compared to 2004, prompting some industry analysts to predict that this year Macau’s casinos will generate close to the $7.5 billion U.S. collected from gambling in Las Vegas in 2005.
Several factors are thought to have contributed to the rise in gambling revenue generated by Macau casinos. Tourism director Joao Antunes has advised that more than half of the visitors to Macau last year came from China. While the easing of travel restrictions has undoubtedly encouraged many Chinese visitors, many Macau tour operators believe that the illegal nature of gambling in the rest of the country has had some influence on the statistics. The increasing number of hotels and resorts in Macau, many of which offer gambling facilities in luxurious environments, has also encouraged a higher percentage of overseas visitors.
While the tourism industry continues to grow, the list of gambling companies operating casinos in Macau is also expanding. Currently gambling interests in Macau are owned by such well-known firms as Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MGM Mirage, and Wynn Resorts Ltd. A number of other gaming operators have expressed interest in establishing operations in Macau.