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Amazing images of Macau - world's gambling hub

Last updated on: April 20, 2012 15:47 IST

Amazing images of Macau - world's gambling hub

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Gambling in Macau has been legal since the 1850s when the Portuguese government legalised the activity in the colony. Since then, Macau has become known worldwide as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient".

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Image: Attendants welcome guests inside Galaxy Macau during its opening.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters

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Gambling tourism is Macau's biggest source of revenue, making up about 50 per cent of the economy. Visitors are made up largely of Chinese nationals from the mainland and Hong Kong.

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Image: A croupier sits in front of a gaming table inside a casino on the opening day of Galaxy Macau.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters

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With the entry of large foreign casinos from Las Vegas and Australia, Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip in gaming revenues in 2007.

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Image: A logo of the MGM Grand Macau hotel resort is displayed outside its hotel in Macau.
Photographs: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

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Until Western-style casino games were introduced in the 20th century, only Chinese games were played, the most popular being Fan-Tan.

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Image: A night view of Venetian Macao Resort Hotel is seen in Macau.
Photographs: Tyrone Siu/Reuters
Tags: , Macau

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Generally, gambling in Macau can be divided into three different categories: casino games, horse racing and greyhound racing.

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Image: Dealers wait for customers at the casino inside Melco Crown Entertainment's latest gaming resort City of Dreams in Macau.
Photographs: Tyrone Siu/Reuters
Tags: Macau

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There is also sports betting and a number of lotteries. Macau, however, does not license online gaming operations.

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Image: Women play slot machines during the Global Gaming Expo Asia at the Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
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In the late 19th century, the government introduced a licensing system for the Chinese gambling houses.

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Image: Lights from the Casino Lisboa are reflected on vehicles in Macau.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters
Tags: , Macau

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The so-called "Monte Carlo of the Orient," Macau's economy relies heavily on gambling.

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Image: A construction worker walks in front of the main gate to Fishermen's Wharf, one of Macau's largest entertainment parks and casinos.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters

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Nowadays, the gambling industry generates over 40 per cent of the GDP of Macau. Since the early 1960s, around 50 per cent of Macau's official revenue has been driven by gambling.

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Image: SJM's flagship casino Grand Lisboa and Casino Lisboa are seen in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
Tags: Macau , GDP

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The percentage remained steady until the late 1990s.

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Image: A general view of local and foreign casinos in Macau.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
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In 1998, 44.5 per cent of total government revenue was produced by the direct tax on gambling.

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Image: Sheldon G Adelson, Chairman of the Board and CEO Las Vegas Sands Corp, and his wife Miriam Adelson attend the opening ceremony of the Venetian on a gondola in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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Then there was a 9.1 per cent decrease in 1999, probably due to Internet gaming.

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Image: Employees stand by in the casino at the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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After the handover of the Macau from Portugal to China, the SAR released gambling licenses to other companies in order to eliminate the monopoly played by the STDM.

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Image: Performers steer their gondolas at the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
Tags: STDM , SAR , China , Portugal

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In 2002, the government signed concession contracts with two Macau gaming companies, Wynn Resort Ltd. and Galaxy Casino.

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Image: Visitors walk in the casino at the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters

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This opened the gambling market for competition and increased government tax revenue significantly. It also attracted more tourists to Macau.

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Image: Newlywed couples from South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand sit on gondolas before the opening ceremony of the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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At this moment, according to official statistics, gambling taxes form 70 per cent of Macau's government income.

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Image: An employee walks past the slot machines in the casino at the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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However, the gambling industry is also a source of instability in the Macau economy, as the nature of gambling business is not susceptible to technological advancement or productivity growth.

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Image: An employee walks past the slot machines in the casino at the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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The gambling business is still dependent on the prosperity of other Asian economies, especially that of Hong Kong.

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Image: A croupier stands in front of a gaming table inside a casino on the opening day of Galaxy Macau.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters
Tags: , Hong Kong , Macau

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Detailed law is enforced in Macau to ensure "qualified operation of gambling" in Macau.

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Image: Employees prepare in the casino at the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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Macau has 33 casinos, of which the biggest is The Venetian Macau.

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Image: Visitors walk past the Venetian in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters
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Twenty-three casinos are located on the Macau Peninsula and 10 casinos on Taipa Island.

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Image: The Venetian is seen during the opening ceremony in Macau.
Photographs: Paul Yeung/Reuters

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They all operate under a government franchise and under a common set of rules.

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Image: Workers put on the last touches to a restaurant in the MGM Grand Macau hotel in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
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Many forms of gambling are legal there, such as blackjack, baccarat, roulette, boule, Sic bo, Fan Tan, keno and slot machines.

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Image: Workers talk inside a Chinese restaurant at the MGM Grand Macau hotel resort in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
Tags: Fan Tan , Macau

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Poker was introduced only in August 2007, in an electronic table format at Galaxy Starworld casino.

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Image: An evening view of Wynn Macau Casino, Casino Lisboa and Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters

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The casino industry is viewed by some as harmful to society. A high crime rate was one of the biggest problems that Macau's colonial Portuguese government had to face.

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Image: People walk past the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
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Since Macau's return to China's rule in 1999, the public security situation has markedly improved.

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Image: A female croupier places casino chips during the Global Gaming Expo Asia in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
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With the growth of the casino industry, a business called "bate-ficha" was developed and it is usually run by different triad societies. The bate-ficha business is an element of triad involvement in Macau's gambling industry.

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Image: A man plays slot machines during the Global Gaming Expo Asia in Macau.
Photographs: Victor Fraile/Reuters
Tags: Macau

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Bate-ficha involves selling customers "dead chips" that cannot be exchanged for cash in the casinos, but only by bate-ficha men or women, who are officially known as "gaming promoters" or "middlemen." for a commission.

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Image: A man walks outside Sands hotel in Macau.
Photographs: Aaron Tam/Reuters
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Triad involvement in Macau casinos makes a serious social impact on the local area. It attracts the attention of Chinese gangsters, whose deadly battles over the fortunes to be made from racketeering and extortion in the territory are a continuing problem.

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Image: People walk past a giant lion sculpture at the MGM Grand Macau hotel resort in Macau.
Photographs: Aaron Tam/Reuters
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As different triad societies compete for controlled territory in the casinos and on the streets, disputes between societies occur from time to time. These are often settled in violent ways.


Image: A general view shows casinos in Macau.
Photographs: Tyrone Siu/Reuters
Tags: Macau

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