Macau is a small area on the coast of China just a few miles away from its much bigger sister Hong Kong, and together these represent the two autonomous regions of China. Macau is only about 11 square miles in size actually, but they pack in over 600,000 people into this very small area, making Macau the most densely populated country in the world. (1)
While Macau is part of China officially, like Hong Kong, they make their own laws here and are self governing, and this definitely applies to Macau’s gambling laws. Gambling is illegal in China, but Macau is not only the gambling capital of Asia but perhaps even the entire world.
Macau is known by some as the “Monte Carlo of the East,” but gambling is way bigger here than it is in Monte Carlo, and they have now even unseated Las Vegas in terms of land-based gambling revenue. Gambling is simply huge here and represents a full 50% of Macau’s overall revenue.
Macau also boasts the world’s highest per capita GDP, at over $142,000, so this is indeed a pretty wealthy region. The gamblers here mostly come from outside Macau though, with Hong Kong and its over 7 million people just an hour away, and the over 100 million people in neighboring Guangdong province in mainland China nearby as well, although people come from all over Asia to gamble at Macau’s many casinos.
Macau was a Portuguese colony until 1999 when it was given over to China, the same year the British gave back Hong Kong, and gambling has been legal in Macau since all the way back in 1850, and gambling has been growing here ever since, where they primarily have catered to Chinese tourists. (2)
So this transition back to China did not involve any changes in the gambling laws of Macau, which was definitely a good thing for Macau since gambling is so central to their economy, and this would have probably destroyed it in fact. Macau is left to make their own laws though and does function as a country which is why they are given their own section here with our coverage of poker laws in countries in Asia.
Internet gambling has affected the live gambling scene somewhat, as revenues have dropped since then, and has really seen a marked decline in 2014 and 2015, but this is still a huge market with revenues in the range of $44 billion a year and the government of Macau gets almost half of their tax revenue from land based gambling operations. (3)
There are a total of 51 casinos in Macau, a massive amount to be sure. (4) Obviously, you don’t have to go far to get to a casino in Macau, with so many packed into such a small space, and many of them have large hotels connected to them, so you really don’t have to go very far to gamble.
Macau also has a horse racing facility where those who like to bet on the horses can take advantage of, but this pales in comparison to the massive size of the casino business done here. Still though, this is no small racetrack, with seating for 18,000 gamblers, and nothing related to gambling in Macau is done on a small scale.
Poker is a fairly recent addition to the Macau poker scene, with the focus for a long time being solely on casino games, and poker wasn’t even introduced here until 2007, when the Asian Poker Tour finally came to town and some of the casinos started spreading out poker games in addition to their other gambling offerings.
The games started out as electronic poker tables only though, but a year later tables with live dealers were added, before you knew it more tables were springing up here and the game really caught on.
The people who come to Macau do come to gamble though and they also like to play poker and poker is now fairly popular here. There are a total of 10 poker rooms in Macau which offer a total of 109 poker tables, and while the game of poker is dwarfed by the game of baccarat at Macau casinos, and baccarat is by far the biggest table game played here, poker still has more than a respectable amount of followers here. (5)
Macau is home to some pretty high stakes poker though with some huge pots, and a lot of the people who come to Macau to play poker aren’t coming to play small stakes poker, so if you are looking to play for some big money this is definitely the place.
So poker is fully legal here and you can play all the poker you want here as well, both live and online, although the live scene overall is so huge that online gambling these days dwarfs live gambling in just about every location in the world, but due to Macau’s small population and sheer amount of live gambling, the opposite is true here.
Macau does have online gambling regulation but it is limited to horse racing and sports lottery products, and players who wish to gamble at other sites, including poker sites, have to play at non regulated foreign websites. (6)
There is a huge potential market though if Macau ever did want to get involved in regulating online gambling, and that market is of course in China, and if the Chinese government ever relents to loosening their restrictions on gambling, Macau would be the perfect place to regulate it, but this doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.
There are some online gambling sites in Macau that profess to be regulated by the government here, but this is not the case, and the Macau government does seek to crack down on this and also warn its people about these misrepresentations.
Macau also seeks to shut down unregulated gambling operations that operate in Macau, but since they don’t regulate offshore sites, there’s no attempt to interfere with their access.
In terms of online poker though, the only sites worth playing at are the large international sites anyway, and none of this applies to poker. In spite of gambling being wide open here, there still are some larger online poker sites who do not take players from Macau, for whatever reason, considering this to be a grey area when in fact it’s as far away from being grey as you could possibly get.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players from Macau
There are a couple of very good online poker sites who do take players from here, we’re happy to say, and it’s far better to play at a top online poker site than some lesser site where the traffic levels may not even make it worth your while to play at all.
Online poker sites don’t really come any better than 888 Poker, and both players and critics agree, as they have been recognized several times as top online poker site in the world. They also have some nice bonuses waiting for you as well, even if you aren’t prepared to make a deposit yet. New players at 888 get $88 in free bonuses just for registering an account, so they’re worth checking out (review here).
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