Monte Carlo of the Orient, Las Vegas of the East – whatever the nickname, for more than a decade Macau has become the gambling capital of the world.
It earned the right to call itself the leader of global gambling in 2007 when the special administrative region of China overtook Las Vegas in annual gambling revenues.
So, how did this tiny peninsula in south China become a giant gaming force, and more importantly, how does its future look in light of the coronavirus pandemic?
A brief history
Gambling has been in existence in Macau since the 1850s when it was a territory under Portuguese rule. Up until the 1960s, the more than 200 gambling houses offered only Chinese-style gambling games.
That changed when, in 1962, the government awarded the monopoly gambling rights in Macau to the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) – a syndicate of Macau and Hong Kong businessmen.
The STDM revolutionized the Macau gambling landscape by introducing Western casino games and improving the region’s transport links and infrastructure, allowing for the arrival of millions of visitors from China and Hong Kong.
Macau was the last Portuguese bastion in Asia, and they held sovereignty over it up to 1999, when China agreed to take charge of the territory as an autonomous region (similar status as Hong Kong).
Especially due to this transition, the STDM’s monopoly ended in 2002. Then, the Macau government granted licenses to six casino operators: Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (which is 80% owned by a subsidiary of STDM), Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment Group, a partnership between Melco and PBL, and a parternship between MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho Chiu-king.
Just five years after the end of casino monopolization, Macau became the most lucrative market in the gaming industry.
As of 2019, there are 41 casinos in Macau, including five of the 10 biggest casino resorts in the world.
Macau’s rise explained
So, how did a territory of just 33-square kilometres and a population less than 700,000 end up generating annual gambling revenues seven times those of Las Vegas?
Macau is uniquely placed in being the only Chinese territory with legalized gambling. Therefore, as the Chinese economy has grown into a superpower over recent decades, and the world’s largest population experiences a rapidly expanding middle and elite class, so too does the demand of entertainment forms like gambling.
However, it is Macau’s high-roller offerings that have played a huge part in the territories rise as a gambling mecca. There are more than 300 billionaires and over 1.6 million millionaires in China and they all only have one location within the country to gamble.
Gambling revenue accounts for around half of Macau’s annual revenue, and while that has been the key driving force behind its rise to prosperity, it has also left the territory extremely vulnerable to unforeseeable circumstances, like a global pandemic…
Macau’s uncertain future
Figures released for June 2020 saw gambling revenues plunge to $89.7m – down 97% year-on-year, which was the lowest revenue figures in a year of historic lows.
It also marked the third consecutive month that Macau’s gambling revenues had fallen by more than 90% year-on-year – all as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
China – the source of the Covid-19 outbreak – introduced some of the strictest measures in the world aimed at combatting the spread of the virus, impacting all aspects of the country’s economy, notably travel and tourism.
So what was Macau’s greatest strength in being the only territory in China with legalized gambling is now proving to be its weakness.
While gambling sectors in other nations have also been hit hard, they have been able to soften the blow by launching or expanding their online casino betting services. On the US and the UK, horse racing betting is still a huge market and helps companies such as TwinSpires to go against the odds and keep delivering quality services.
However, with the overwhelming majority of Macau’s market located in mainland China, where access to online casinos is largely restricted, and high-rollers unable to visit to pump money into the economy, Macau has almost ground to a standstill.
Macau’s head of government, chief executive Ho Iat Seng, has criticized the territory’s dependence on the gambling industry and has said it has left them particularly vulnerable during this time.
“With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the gaming and tourism industries registered significant declines, with profound impact on industries connected to these areas,” Ho said. “This demonstrates, once again, the vulnerability and the enormous risks of the Macau economy’s excessive dependence on gaming and tourism industries.”
While governments around the world are taking cautious steps to reopen their economies, travel is expected not to return to normal for quite some time.
Macau, with the assistance of the central Chinese government, are expected to eventually recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus, but this crisis has shown that even the gambling capital of the world can be crippled by a global pandemic.
Slotegrator’s overview of gambling in Uzbekistan
Online casino and sportsbook provider Slotegrator is one of the leading aggregators in the Eastern European and CIS gambling markets — and rightfully so: the company keeps a close eye on the evolution of iGaming in each country and provides you all the latest information. Slotegrator’s new article shines the spotlight on the gambling landscape of Uzbekistan.
In November 2019, the government of Uzbekistan published a decree on sports activities that also revealed officials’ intention to legalize the sports betting sector of the gambling industry, which was banned in 1991 (with one exception — state lotteries).
The potential legalization of sportsbook businesses looked like a serious and meaningful step forward on the government’s part, and was supposed to open some new doors to the highly promising market for sponsors and investors. It was also seen as a natural stimulus to help Uzbekistan’s sports industry — particularly football — make a giant leap forward.
In addition to the initiative to develop sports betting, there is a project to create a special gambling zone in the city of Muynak. The logic behind the idea is to popularize Uzbekistan as a tourism destination and attract more international investments into the country’s economy. Meanwhile, the planned construction of an entertainment area should include a sports track as well as a shopping mall.
The year 2020 has been set to carry out all the necessary campaigns to lay the groundwork for taking the next steps and eliminating any possible legal contradictions and loopholes.
Read Slotegrator’s new article on Uzbekistan’s gambling initiatives to find out more about the current status of the project.
Pave the way to gambling success in India by launching an online casino business powered by Slotegrator
While businesses everywhere are barely keeping their heads above water in a turbulent global economy, India offers a safe haven. When it comes to iGaming, the Indian horizon looks crystal clear and cloudless. This is one of many reasons why online casino operators are setting a course for India, which offers a more promising financial and legislative climate than many other jurisdictions.
India has been seen as a land of promise and opportunity throughout human history, with countless business endeavors made to the country in hopes of tapping into its riches — and the iGaming industry is no different. Online casino and sportsbook software supplier Slotegrator made its own trip to the Indian market to ensure it offers the online gambling community firm — and profitable — ground to stand on. The evidence that the game is worth the candle? India has a population of over 1.3 billion, constantly increasing access to mobile technology, and a gambling industry already estimated to be worth $60 billion USD per year. Need we say more?
Slotegrator has carried out thorough research on India’s iGaming prospects, the result of which is another vivid illustration of the current opportunities: India is now home to nearly 700 million smartphone users, with over 127 million new users coming online since 2019. With that in mind, iGaming operators may be asking themselves what steps they should take to launch an online casino project. They can find the answer in “A guide to starting an online casino in India” by Slotegrator.
The article leaves no stone unturned, shining a spotlight on all the crucial aspects of the serpentine process of opening an online gambling project. By getting in-depth information and studying up on necessary tricks under Slotegrator’s wing, operators can perfectly gear themselves up for iGaming success. With a focus on an in-depth market overview, Slotegrator leads readers through the journey to establishing a flourishing iGaming business, pinpointing all the market’s intricacies along the way.
In India, like in any other jurisdiction, operators should be well-educated with respect to gambling laws, which vary from state to state. While the regulatory framework in the country is complicated, ignorance will not be seen as an excuse, so operators should take careful note of online gambling regulations in order to find firm legal footing on Indian soil.
To run a successful iGaming business, operators have to lay the groundwork for the future of their projects, and Slotegrator’s guide to starting an online casino in India is definitely a helping hand for ambitious business owners with their eye on the booming market.
Are Online Casinos in Malaysia Legal?
If you are looking for a place to go on vacation for, or if you are looking for a foreign land to retire on, going to Southeast Asian countries can be a breath of fresh air and a good dose of a fresh view for anyone. This part of the continent is a favorite for all kinds of tourists–those who are into beaches, those who are into peaceful lands, or those who are into some good city life, and even for those who want to keep the feel of the bright lights and the rush of the Las Vegas life–simply put, gambling.
Naturally, before engaging in any kind of activity on foreign land, you would want to make sure how things work–what are the things you can do, and what are the things that you cannot do. As such, if you are someone who would want to visit Malaysia and you have gambling as one of the things in your mind, you must have a deep understanding of how the laws and regulations in the country regarding gambling.
If you are a gambler and looking to tour in Malaysia, one of the first things you should know is this: you can still play casino games in the country. Right now, the only legal casino establishment in the country is the integrated hill resort Casino de Gentin of the Genting Group. This is located at the Genting Highlands in Pahang. Other than that, no casino or betting establishments are recognized by the government as legal. This is due to the move of the Malaysian government that aimed to control and regulate gambling by stopping the granting of licenses for any betting establishment.
As such, this makes online betting a technically illegal activity in Malaysia. This means that no online casino or betting site operator can operate within the country. However, there is a grey area of uncertainty when it comes to Malaysian citizens betting through offshore sites. What a lot of people recommend for anyone who is into online betting, is to just bet on an offshore site that is preferably based in Europe that accepts international customers.
There are at least three major laws that influence how online betting, and gambling as a whole, in the country.
The Betting Act of 1953, simply put, outlaws all forms of sports betting in Malaysia–of course, except the currently recognized casino house in the country. The law can impose a fine of 200,000 ringgits and five years in prison for anyone who will be caught and proven to be operating a betting house illegally. Whether it includes today’s modern online betting sites is unclear.
This act encompasses all forms of gambling, to the point that one can be criminally prosecuted for not just operating a gaming house but simply even for just being caught inside one.
The law, which is extensive and comprehensive, encompasses every and all possible locations and forms where anyone can do betting and gambling. Still, it has no clear laws against online betting.
Malaysia is a dominantly Muslim country, with more than 60% of its residents being Muslims. Thus, most of its people are bound by what is called Sharia Law.
The Sharia Law, which all Muslim people are bound to and they must adhere to, considers all forms of gambling–referred to as maisir or qimar–as absolutely forbidden or haram, in Muslim terms. However, non-Muslim people who are in the country are not bound by these laws.
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