Macau, as you may already know, is a land of excesses, and it does a great job of holding that title. Developers in the country don’t shy away from showing how deep their pockets are, erecting casinos more ostentatious than the other.
While not everyone is pleased with the megastructures (pure cheese, said one critic), the impressionable tourist in me likewise marveled at the casinos, as gaudy as they seemed. For most tourists, however, they would do. Macau casinos are one of those places that you can’t believe actually exist, a phantasmagoria of Grecian bas reliefs, Baroque ceilings and Renaissance art, Eastern symbolism, with some cyberpunk undertones thrown in. These places have probably culled any cultural or artistic influence you can think of, as you would probably expect from any casino in the world.
Gambling in Macau
Like today, Macau’s casinos were established in the olden times to draw wealthy tourists and businessmen from the mainland to its isles. Gambling originated in Macau in the mid-1800s to generate additional government funds. A century later, a more systematized casino network was formed. This was called the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) or the Tourism and Entertainment Company of Macau Limited. The public company was owned by Hong Kong-born billionaire Stanley Ho.
The turn of the new millennium saw the arrival of a new player in the market, following the government’s decision to end the monopoly system. Since then, new casino franchises have opened. In 2010, Macau’s gambling revenues officially surpassed Nevada’s. According to The Conversation, the rise of the new rich in China, where gambling is prohibited, has propelled the arrival of these gambling-starved tourists to Macau.
Casual tourists like us got treated to the smoke-filled regular areas where the slot machines are, while the high rollers enjoyed the privacy of VIP rooms. The Conversation reports that these so-called VIP rooms were the cash cows of these casinos, whose target audience comprise 66 percent of the gambling market.
Without further ado, let’s explore some of the casinos we went to:
The Grand Lisboa is a 47-floor casino and hotel that stands 261-meters tall and is located in its namesake avenue, Avenida Lisboa. The casino, which houses 800 gaming tables and 1,000 slot machines, opened its doors in 2007. The hotel was opened a year later and features 430 rooms and suites. Standing at 261 meters, the Grand Lisboa is the tallest building in Macau. The Grand Lisboa is home to “chef of the century” Joel Robuchon’s restaurant, Robuchon au Dome.
Address: Avenida de Lisboa, Macau
Contact Number: (853) 2828 3838
Wynn Macau is a hotel and casino consisting of two towers that house a hotel, casino and lifestyle space. Wynn is a luxury destination in Macau with eight fine dining restaurants, salon, and spas. Its first tower opened in 2006, followed by a second, Encore, in 2010. According to its website, Wynn offers 1,598 rooms and suites, thanks to the addition of its Encore Tower. It is perhaps more popular among tourists for its Performance Lake and ceiling carvings in one of its main hallways.
Address: Rua Cidade de Sintra, NAPE, Macau
Contact Number: (853) 2888 9966
Venetian Casino Resort Macau
The Venetian Macao is a hotel and casino complex located on the Cotai Strip. Its design was based on its Las Vegas older sister, though is not in any way smaller. The Venetian Macao is the largest casino in the world and in Asia, standing at 39 stories high. It features 3,000 suites and a million square feet of casino, retail, and convention space.
Address: Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança, s/n, Taipa, Macao SAR, China
Contact Number: +85328828877
Sands Cotai Central
Sands Cotai Central is the main casino resort of the Cotai Strip. The casino complex opened in 2012 and is home to several five-star hotels, such as the Conrad, Sheraton, St. Regis, and Holiday Inn, all shared total of 6,000 accommodations for guests. Like other casino resorts in Macau, Sands Cotai Central also boasts of meeting and convention spaces and lifestyle stores.
Address: Estrada do Istmo. s/n, Cotai, Macau SAR, P.R. China
Contact Number: +85381183643
Words and Photos by Sandy Miguel. All Rights Reserved.