China’s ongoing love affair with gambling

| May 29th, 2014

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It was recently reported that Macau’s gambling industry is seven times bigger than Vegas.

That’s quite a large sum of money, especially when you consider that Vegas makes $6.5 billion a year – Macau, however, China’s gambling capital, has trumped all other hot casino destinations around the world by announcing revenues of 360 billion patacas, or $45 billion. That’s a 20% rise on last year.

The ‘taboo’ culture

So what is it that has made Macau such a gambling heavyweight amongst the former world leaders, Las Vegas and Atlantic City? In China, the Special Administrative Region of Macau is the only place in which gambling is legal, and hence millions of tourists flock there every year. In a country with a population of more than 1 billion, that’s quite a few pulls on the dark night rises slots.

The rise to the top

Macau has not always been such a big player on the gambling destination list. In recent years, the addition of many American mega-casinos in Macau has increased its commercial appeal, from the prestigious Las Vegas Sands to Wynn Resorts.

Gambling is also a popular pastime amongst Hong Kong residents, and Macau’s prospects can only get better if the alleged bridge from Hong Kong to Macau is anything to go by.

A nationwide love of gambling

Gambling is hugely popular amongst the Chinese population, largely thanks to changes in political attitudes, legislation and globalization. The hysteria has had welcome effects in America, too – shares in Wynn Resorts have recently climbed by 2.26%, while MGM resort shares grew by 2.59%.

“Results were on the high-end of recent expectations and we believe, provide solace for those with macro-China concerns,” said Sterne Agee analyst David Bain.

Online gaming

The strict legislation on gambling in China also affects online gambling, and just as the Chinese government does not grant licenses for gambling sites outside of Macau, it also does not grant licenses to online casino websites in China.

However, keen online gamblers can quickly get around this by playing on foreign websites, despite the government’s attempts to filter them out of search engine results. Many international websites offer games specifically catered for Chinese players.

Playing by the rules

While the feeling of breaking the rules may give gamblers in China an added thrill, there are a few practices which are perfectly legal in China, namely the Welfare and Sports Lottery. Clearly, legal gambling has its appeal too – it was worth $40 billion in 2012.

Whether legal or not, there is a clear interest in gambling in China, and with Macau’s prospects growing every day, the Chinese will do whatever they can to get their thrills.

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