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.
India Looking Towards a Bright Sports Betting Future
As the sports world begins to pick its feet up again, some leagues around the world are looking towards uncertain futures. While some have fired back, intent on providing entertaining sporting events, others have remained on the sheltered side of things. That being said, people are starting to talk about sports again, and sports betting as well. This is especially true when it comes to the country of India.
It is for this reason that many people within India have been seeking out great websites that provide high-quality, trustworthy sports betting opportunities. Because once sports get back to full speed, it’s imperative to be betting through a credible platform. There are some top bookmakers in India already, which provide their services to the nation for a variety of sports. Each one is different to the next, so residents of the country are able to seek out one that works for them in terms of range of sports, promotions available, site design etc.
As the worldwide pandemic subsides, the likelihood is that India’s sports betting industry will surge forth with growth. It isn’t 100% clear yet as to how long that is likely to take, but the certainty is that people are desperate to return to betting on their favoured sports. Even though some sports will need to adapt to certain new rules and procedures, fans of such will remain as intent as ever on spectating and, in many cases, betting on their chosen events.
More Indian People Are Discovering Online Sports Betting and Gambling
While lockdowns have caused an excess of people to spend more time indoors, this has led to the discovery of more online gambling sites for them. This increase in people using the online world for their entertainment has meant that Indian sports betting sites have witnessed a growth in registrations. A 30% climb in online traffic was experienced within a 14-day period, as reviewed by Live Mint. While much of that increase came from people taking the opportunity to engage in online classes and communicate with others digitally, gambling sites were also a factor in its rise.
Online gambling activity in general has been on the increase across India for some time now. In April, online gaming activities grew by 110% as opposed to the month of February, which is a huge growth!
So, what should Indians expect from the sports betting industry going forward?
Well, as different sports start up at different times, there’s more opportunity for lesser-experienced bettors to get used to these. Germany’s Bundesliga football began operating again in May, while the UK’s football scene is starting to gain traction once more. Plenty of betting lines have been generated for games within these leagues and more, meaning that Indian gamblers are able to take advantage of sports that maybe they haven’t wagered on before.
To put it simply, it seems as though there’s a bright future in view for the Indian sports betting market. With the re-introduction of so many different sports and odds being generated for multiple events, people will have more time to get to know about them and proceed with placing bets as they see fit.
QTech Games partners with Ezugi to elevate live casino for Asia
Leading distributor teams up with live-dealer specialist to create a definitive one-stop-shop for gaming
QTech Games, Asia’s number-one games distributor, has launched with leading live casino provider Ezugi in a breakout deal for the company which completes its definitive product portfolio, establishing QTech Games as a comprehensive one-stop-shop for global operators.
Ezugi already provides high-class mobile live dealer and desktop solutions to digital gambling businesses and brick-and-mortar casinos across international markets, such as Europe, the U.S. and Latin America. Now, though, this agreement with QTech Games’ leading platform also expands Ezugi’s geographic reach still further, opening up Asia’s array of both established and emerging markets for accelerated growth.
Ezugi’s state-of-the-art live studio delivers an unrivalled immersive experience for players, who can now enjoy these engaging, real-time table games (from classics like blackjack, roulette, baccarat and three-card poker to regional favourites such as India’s Andar Bahar) via the flexible QTech platform which offers the fastest integration on the market.
As the fastest-growing distributor in Asia over the past few years, QTech’s platform boasts the broadest gaming portfolio around, localised for each region, with native mobile apps, powerful reporting and marketing tools, and 24/7 local-language support.
QTech Games CEO, Markus Nasholm, said: “We’re thrilled to have signed this agreement with Ezugi, whose games need no introduction and are always raising the bar for cutting-edge, mobile and web live dealer gaming. Even from a soft launch in December, the response from our network of operator partners was both immediate and universal.
“It’s a real milestone moment for QTech to have finalised a definitive product set with this latest key addition to our platform. And together, we are planning to add some more exciting products over the next few months, which we intend to unveil for our flagship QTech Games Party around ICE Asia (8-9 June) at our home hub in Manila.”
Ezugi added: “It’s fantastic for us to put the final piece in place on the QTech Games jigsaw, and we look forward to their platform taking our games to new, untapped audiences across emerging markets. Ezugi’s unwavering dedication to delivering engaging live-player experiences affords customers, who love these games, the visceral thrill of playing in a real-world casino, while QTech’s peerless Asian knowledge made them the perfect partner for us. Just take Ezugi’s novel spin on a traditional Indian favourite with our Andar Bahar card game, delivered in both English and Hindi. QTech understands that there’s no chance of cracking emerging markets without delivering the best localised games that truly connect with unique cultural appetites.”
Las Vegas Sands pushes hard to get Japanese IR license
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Las Vegas Sands President courts Osaka officials, pitches multi-billion-dollar integrated resort plan.
Robert Goldstein, the president of US-based casino company Las Vegas Sands, has held meeting with Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura to present the company’s plans for building and running a casino in Osaka. Osaka is tipped to be one of the three locations for which the newly announced IR licenses will be issued.
Goldstein briefed the officials about Las Vegas Sands’ success in the international gambling markets and company’s plans for investment in building an greatest integrated resort in Osaka. Sand now has casino facilities in Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore.
Las Vegas Sands is willing to invest more than $10 billion for an IR facility in Japan.
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