Gambling Guide to Macau

17 July 2018, by GambleScope Research Team

Gambling Guide to Macau Photo

Flagged by beautiful streets, scenic landscapes and housing more than 30 mega land-based casinos, the “Monte Carlo of the Orient” has become every gamblers’ paradise over the years. Macau has been the hub of gambling activities Asia over the years and has been known to rake in more than 50% of the city’s total revenue via gambling tourism earning its title as the “gambling capital of the world”.

Being the only city in China where gambling is legalised and with quality casinos to rival the top players like Las Vegas and Monte Carlo, Macau has become the top gambling centre, outshining other gambling cities by topping the government’s revenue charts.

Given the fantastic scenery of Macau, the dazzling casinos adorning and amount of tourists that flock into the city to seek their fortunes on the gaming tables, it is unsurprising that the Asian “sleepy backwater” had been transformed to the centre of world’s games of chance. It is evident that getting to this point had been centuries in the making.

The Legal Status of Gambling in Macau

The tradition lottery system has been around long before gambling became legalised and also became a business idea, all forms of betting were dated back to the 16th century in Macau. Gambling was legalised in Macau by the Portuguese government in 1847 (it was a Portuguese colony at the time) to generate more revenues before being handed to China in 1999.

Though the initial games were played in Chinese gaming houses, casino monopoly concessions were however granted by the government to different companies towards the beginning of the 20th century with gaming houses the first recipients. With over 200 gaming houses operational, various games of chance such as baccarat and horse racing were introduced.

Following the monopoly concession served to Tai Heng Company, control of the casino monopoly was reverted to the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoesde Macao (STDM). The gambling industry bloomed and became lucrative under the control of this group due to the droves of tourist pouring into the country to try their lucks on the gaming tables and other forms of betting.

The industry in Macau suffered in 2015 due to a crackdown by the Chinese government to curtail the circle of crime and fraud in the system. Though this had shrunk the country’s general revenue standing, the industry still thrived on other legal forms of betting like horse race betting, sports betting, and lotteries.

Current Gambling Laws in Force

It is important to know that though most gaming laws in Macau are regulated by a regulatory body, there are no provisions for gambling under the legal system of the country. As such, most gaming laws are under different categories of law such as tax law, contract and company law, administrative law, criminal law e.t.c. This implies that violations of any gaming law is punishable under any of these laws depending on the offence.

The most important rule is that before choosing to gamble in Macau, every gambler must be 21 years old as mandated by the law. While the gaming tables include baccarat, blackjack, roulette, Sic Bo, the Chinese traditional Fantan and slot machines, all set to give the clients the best gaming experience, the gaming law dictates that not more than USD 3,100 (20000 Yuan) can be taken off the country by the Mainlanders.

Macau uses its own currency- the Pataca, but the legal tender accepted by most casinos is the Hong Kong dollar. It is also to be noted that in most casinos, cameras and excessive luggage are not allowed.

Now, while online gambling is frowned upon by the regulatory bodies, sports betting and horse-racing betting can still be enjoyed since they also employ internet services to increase their customer base. Most casinos are on a 24-hour operational basis which means that time restriction don’t apply.

While the casinos in Macau bears a striking semblance to Las Vegas (dubbed as the sin city) with their opulence and promise of a thrilling experience, it still has stricter controls on drinking, so you might want to go easy on alcohol since the casinos tend to provide ample security to their clients. As such, many casinos try to curtail public disturbances by avoiding situations where drunken clients cause a ruckus amongst gamers. As a result, the security details of these casinos are usually up to the task of ensuring such are under control.

However, though the western-styled gambling systems had prevailed and were regulated by the government in Macau, the country’s move towards online gambling is restricted. Now, though there are no laws or regulations enacted to promote online gambling, such practices are not entirely abated as many still tend towards recognised forms of gambling such as horse racing and sports betting which of course are still within the confines of online gaming.

While this form of online betting is widely accepted in Macau due to the numerous lovers of these games, the service operations are only restricted to be run by Macau-run gaming centres. As of the time of this writing, only two local gaming centres run the horse racing and sports betting platforms. This, according to the law, negates the involvement of the licensed casinos in online gambling platforms since there are no licensing systems to regulate online gambling.

Who Regulates Macau’s Gaming Industry

Being the backbone of most tourist activities in Macau and therefore susceptible to being a backdrop of crime and other forms of fraudulent activities which could impede the growth, the industry is backed by a robust legal and regulatory framework.

Regulated by Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (also known DICJ), Casinos in Macau are required to adhere to regulations such as the legal age regulation for both foreign and locals wagering as well as tax compliances.

Therefore, the gaming regulations in Macau insists that the gamer or gambler must be 21 years of age with forfeiture of gains and wins to the government as a fine for compliance violations. And like other countries in the world, there are strict penalties for disobeying the laws.

According to the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DCIJ) in Macau, the law mandates that all online gamers be residents in Macau and that if there be such wishes to wager on poker or other games apart from sports betting online, other off-shore online gaming platforms should be consulted.

The Bureau was reported to have stated that “Macau has never issued an online interactive gaming license to any company. Hence, all online gambling websites in Macau are considered illegal practices.”

Owing its success to the gaming revenues, development of the gambling Industry has peaked with most of the big gaming operators like Wynn holdings integrating more prominent properties such as five-star beautifully bedecked hotels and gaming rooms to expand their position in the city. As such, Macau had become flooded with more tourists and businessmen looking to amass and their fortunes and expand their business ideas for lucrative returns.

Tax Situations on Winnings from Gambling

Though most of Macau’s revenues come from payable taxes by casinos, the tax holdings on winnings for the gamblers are totally free. Now if you were a tourist in Vegas or not an American, you could be subjected to pay about 30% tax on winning and about 25% for Americans. This explains why many serious gamers have taken to gaming in Macau.

Attitudes to Gambling in Macau

Generally speaking, Gambling and betting in Macau owes its success to the foresight of its Portuguese fathers who had included a legal framework into gambling instead of merely leaving it as a vice. Being the only area in the whole of China to offer people a means of livelihood and joyful experience to indulge their vices and turn their lucks and chances into wealth, Macau has been one country to gain a significant number of visitors.

According to statistics, Macau receives an average of 28 million visitors per year with the number only increasing due to the live gambling avenues there and the relaxed laws regarding entry into the country. Of course, it has been noted that nearly half of these visitors are merely there for the gaming tables and other gaming actions.

While online gambling has been banned in the country, offline gambling has become the hub of most gambling practices. And especially with the casinos extending both beginners and pros chances of gaining more via their platforms, many go in flocks to play at a chance of winning thereby culminating points for Macau’s gambling Industry and winning it the top-spot with Las Vegas overshadowed.

Now, it is widely argued that with gambling the hub of commercial activities in Macau, there was an open invitation to crime, money laundering, and many fraudulent practices. The founding fathers had to combat corruption by placing strict regulations on these activities which according to many had been the foundation of rules set against online gambling. With the fantastic turn out of developmental projects (i.e. first-class hotels, departmental stores and high-end jewellery) by the casinos, casinos have been suspected to be linked with a wide assortment of misconducts.

How Safe Gambling in Macau?

Gambling in Macau is relatively safe due to the rules of the casinos and the security details, but online gambling is played at the gamers’ risk. This is because while land-based casinos do their best to keep out threats, most online gaming sites do little keep out threats. As a result, gamers are exposed to phishing, general loss of profits and due to the lack of a regulatory framework for this activity; the possibility of facing a penalty is quite high.

Therefore, as mentioned above, the only way to indulge in online gambling is by going through the right channels of online gambling (i.e. horse racing channel and sports betting)

Options and Venues Worth Considering in Macau

Of course, as mentioned above, Macau has other legalised forms of gambling or wagers, and next to casino gambling, horse racing is the next best thing. For this event, most betting takes place at the Macau Jockey Club with many placing bets to choose the next version of the Legendary “Secretariat” (the American racehorse that first won the Triple Stakes).

This form of betting can be done on the race-course at the start of the race, or off-course betting centres in Macau and Taipa. Apart from sports betting, Horse racing is the only gambling practice in Macau that allows one bet over the internet via the Jockey Club’s website and over the phone.

If you’d like to consider gambling in the casinos, there are beautiful casinos and hotels along the strip that should make your journey enjoyable. It is important to know that the house rules in casinos are almost the same since all the casinos pretty much offer the same gaming services.

By gaming statistics, it appeared that Baccarat is the most popular casino game with players in Asia, followed by the slots, Blackjack and then Roulette. Therefore, if you are by any means a beginner that would like to test your beginner's luck, you could start with the baccarat.

Overall Rating for Macau as a Gambling Nation

Macau as a gambling centre, on a scale of 0-5, definitely takes it all but not to be biased we would have to say it should be on 4.5. Macau beats other nations with its relaxed and yet strict. This is precisely what makes it stand out because the backdrop of underground crime has lessened over the years and with the casino rules in place, many leave with their pockets full.

Our View

Macau’s nightlife is enthralling, and life as a gamer in Macau is usually an exciting prospect. The casinos are relaxed in the mornings and buzzing with activities in the evenings with the plenty of atmosphere around the tables. With the beautiful scenery of Macau, you could choose to play the tourist by visiting different sites and taking long walks.

The casinos provide free shuttle buses to ferry their clients to different locations (which may have changed by the time of reading this article) but suffice it to say, the island of Macau goes out of its way to ensure casino players have a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable stay.

Macau has come a long way in the global gambling industry and still with the propensity to grow. With Japan and South Korea equally looking promising, the gambling market is getting pretty competitive increasing Macau’s tendency towards striving and retaining its top spot in the Industry.