Is Macau the new Las Vegas?
Unless you've seen the new James Bond film you might have never heard of Macau before. In which case you'll be surprised to learn, that this month, the tiny island made five times as much gaming revenue as Las Vegas. There's no denying that's an impressive statistic, but can Macau really claim to be the new Vegas? After all, Vegas is a world famous gambling destination which attracts tourists from across the globe, but there's much more to the city than casinos. I set out to discover whether Macau lives up to the hype, and was quite surprised by what I found.
Everyone likes a flutter, and whether it's playing casino online or putting money on the National Lottery, sensible gambling within your means can offer a bit of fun and light relief. Vegas is particularly popular with a wide demographic of people, including relatively low spenders who visit for a fun getaway or to celebrate a hen or stag do. Macau on the other hand attracts a very different kind of visitor, namely Chinese high rollers and business leaders with deep pockets and money to burn.
There are numerous reasons for Macau's popularity, namely the island is the only place in China where casino's are legal. This has driven over 28 million people to Macau so far this year. Also, with Chinese savings rates at a record low and inflation at 4%, more people than ever are taking the opportunity to enjoy their money by gambling, rather than watch the value of their savings erode away.
Macau has lots to offer tourists including the largest casino in the world at the Venetian Macau. Last year $600 billion dollars was spent on the island, so it's no surprise there are some pretty spectacular sights for tourists. These include a replica of Amsterdam and even a working volcano which visitors can see erupting every night.
It's easy to see why Macau is labelled the new Las Vegas, most of the major Vegas casino's have moved here too, and are making around 60% more income than in Sin City. Less money is made from slot machines in Macau, and more at the gambling tables from high stake games. This means while big money spenders are in their element, the higher buy ins make it prohibitively expensive for those with more modest incomes. While you can find many games for £1-2 in Vegas, you'd be hard pressed to find anything under £25 in Macau.
Unlike Vegas, you can't drink alcoholic drinks in the casino's in Macau, just tea or soft drinks. So it's not exactly ideal for your hen or stag do. Although the Island boasts activities such as the worlds highest bungee jump, it lacks the rides and shows of Vegas that make it so popular with tourists.
Macau isn't the new Las Vegas, in financial terms it's already beyond that, but it lacks something Vegas has in abundance, the fun factor. If you're a multi-millionaire there's no doubt you could have a great time in Macau, but those of us who can't afford to blow the budget will find much more enjoyment in Vegas.