Gambling in Macau (or Macao) was legalized in 1850, under Portuguese rule, and since that time it has been known as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient.” Both foreign and domestic corporations have invested heavily in Macau casinos, and tourists frequently visit them from Hong Kong and the mainland of the People’s Republic of China. In fact, gambling and tourism are the chief sources of income in Macau.
There are a number of casinos in Macau, all operating under government rules and regulations, and most are open 24 hours a day. Games at Macau casinos include blackjack, roulette, boule, sic bo, Fan-Tan, keno, and the very popular game of baccarat. The largest of the Macau casinos is the Casino Lisboa, a four-story complex originally built in the early 1970’s, by a Stanley Ho company. The Casino Lisboa in downtown Macau has been enlarged to a total of 927 rooms and another extension is planned to meet the competition of the adjacent Wynn Macau, owned by Steve Wynn of Las Vegas.
In comparison, the Floating Palace, located on a barge about a five-minute walk from the ferry terminal, is the smallest Macau casino. The second deck has six baccarat tables, two for blackjack, and two for dai-siu and sic bo. In addition, there is a small slot machine room and other areas that are probably used for private gambling games. For a change of pace in a quieter atmosphere, the Floating Palace has low table limits and is a good option to consider.
The Pharaoh’s Casino, within the 5-star Landmark Hotel, is in a prime city center location. The Pharaoh’s, on the 3rd floor, offers a luxurious gambling experience, with 383 slots and 19 table games including baccarat, roulette, nine tables of poker, and eight of blackjack.
In addition, Macau casinos include the Fortuna in the Hotel Fortuna, conveniently located within walking distance of the shopping and business districts, and the Casino Golden Dragon. Located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the popular Hotel Golden Dragon, it has 72,600 square feet of lively, carnival-like atmosphere. The décor of the Golden Dragon is based upon festivals from Europe, China, America, and Latin America, including a Spanish fire lighting display on the ceiling of the main gambling floor. Six of the VIP rooms feature the Trinidad carnival, the Venice mask festival, 19th century Paris, Mardi Gras, the Carnivale de Rio de Janeiro, and Chinese dragon dancing. The Casino Golden Dragon, with 85 gaming tables (15 for VIPs), 3-card poker, baccarat, sic bo, and blackjack, and 137 slots is filled with fun and excitement.
For a time, Macau casinos, for the most part, did not have the glitz and glamor of Vegas or Atlantic City, but with the influx of foreign investors that too is changing.