Phat City: The Magic Is Back In Macau

Macau, the storied Chinese gambling enclave that was almost floored by draconian travel bans and lockdowns during the recent pandemic, is back with a bang.

Albeit rising from a relatively low–Covid19-impacted–comparative base, Macau’s Gross Gambling Income (GGI) soared to the equivalent of £1.82 billion (Macau Patacas MOP$18.6bn/US$2.3bn) in December — an astonishing 433 percent higher than the same month in 2022.

A former Portuguese colony for some 450-years until it was handed back to Communist China at the turn of the century, Macau draws millions of Chinese punters to its many US-owned casinos because most forms of gambling are still outlawed in the motherland.

As the Las Vegas of the East, it also attracts high-rollers and heavy-hitters from across Asia, if not the world of apex gambling.

Year Zero

The casino business in Macau, deemed a Special Administrative Region of China, enjoys a wide band of local autonomy. But it was mightily affected by the Covid19 viral pandemic, which originated in mainland city of Wuhan, in Hubei Province, central China, in December 2019.

Chinese authorities reacted with draconian lockdowns across the nation, maintaining the quarantine even for months after the rest of the world was re-opening for business.

Then, in a volte-face that surprised many, China abandoned its Covid19 zero policy in January last year.

Now Macau is back at the tables, recording GGI of MOP$16 billion (£1.57bn) in November and MOP$19.5 billion (£1.91bn) in October last year — compared to a total GGI of MOP$42.2 billion (£4.14bn) for the whole of 2022.

Just in time, one may add, for what is effectively the world’s richest gambling destination, to meet the growing challenges of both Japan–where MGM Resorts International are building that country’s very first casino resort in Osaka Prefecture–and the Philippines, where the new administration of President Ferdinand ‘Ban-Bang’ Marcos Jnr. is all set this year to legalise, reform, indeed revolutionise, his nation’s gambling industry.

Published on:
fast track