Anyone who has ever set foot in Macau knows that the gambling scene is expansive. The
Chinese city features 5 of the world’s 10 largest casinos, and more money comes into and out of
the city than Las Vegas can ever dream of. Macau is living the dream, and the pull of the casinos
is enough to drive all kinds of nightlife together. The gambler’s paradise is home to world-
famous clubs, from the 2,800 square meter Club Cubic to the infamous China Rouge.
What has made Macau so ridiculously successful? How can a casino empire sprout out of a
country that pronounces all gambling illegal, and does not house a single legal casino in the
mainland? Brace yourself for a surprise answer.
Here is the truth: The city of Macau has its very own laws. There is hardly a single thing in
common between China’s Communist government and Macau’s own government system. How
did this happen? For the past 130 years, Macau has been under the control of Portugal. The busy
port town has been bringing its profits to Portugal for even longer, being rented out to the
European country since 1557. Eventually, the Portuguese government grew tired of paying China
money, and renegotiated the terms. Whether these terms involved threats of war or not is a bit of
a mystery, but China handed over the city in exchange for nothing but cooperation.
Even before Portugal claimed Macau for their own, they were able to legalize gambling in their
tiny section of the gigantic country. In 1847, gambling was legalized just in Macau. Free from
restrictive laws that might cut into the fun, Macau’s success exploded. In 2007, Macau finally
surpassed Las Vegas in revenue, and it is now the most successful gambling locale in the world.
In the late 90s, China let the world know that it wasn’t too happy about Portugal sitting on its turf
making a profit. Under pressure, Portugal returned Macau to China in 1999, but held onto its
governmental structure. At least until 2049, 50 years after Portugal gave up its precious Chinese
port city, Macau will be filled to the brim with more casinos than a visitor can ever hope to
There is no place quite like Macau. Each towering casino is packed with eager players from all
around the world, ready to be bamboozled. Even if, in the end, we have imperialism to thank, at
least the countless profits are in the right hands now.