Busting Vegas Myths: Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world


Published on: December 4, 2023 at 08:14 pm.

Last updated on: December 9, 2023 at 02:01 h.

And apparently what happens in Macau stays there too, because few Las Vegas goers realize that this Chinese city has been the gambling capital of the world for 15 of the past 18 years.

There is another Wynn resort operating in the gambling capital of the world – Macau, China. (Image: poker.org)

Sin City began to take on the role of second city in annual gross gambling revenue (GGR) in 2006, when Macau – the only place in China that allows gambling – surpassed it for the first time, generating $6.95 billion in GGR compared to Vegas’ $6.69 billion. . Since then, the distance has mostly widened. By 2019,

Macau reports approximately $36 billion in annual gambling revenue Six times Las Vegas reported a total of $6.6 billion.

That’s why the company, which was owned by the late billionaire Sheldon Adelson, now operates exclusively in Macau and Singapore. Although it still calls itself Las Vegas Sands. In a deal completed last year, the company sold the Venetian, Palazzo and Venetian Expo in Las Vegas to Apollo Global Management and VICI Properties for $6.25 billion.

In Macau, a small Chinese port city with a population of about 680,000 and an area of ​​12.7 square miles, casino taxes account for more than 80% of local government revenue. (Image: Shutterstock)

Cash Macaw

Macau (alternately spelled Macao) is a former Portuguese colony on the coast near Hong Kong. It was then returned to Chinese control in 1999, and after the monopoly on gaming franchises once enjoyed by Stanley Ho, the late “King of Macau” and his family expired in 2002, the casino became the new Wild West of casino development.

Although gambling on the mainland has been illegal since 1949, China allows it in Macau due to the territory’s status as a “special administrative region.”

Las Vegas Sands opened its first casino there in 2004, followed by Wynn Resorts two years later, and MGM Resorts in 2007. Together, these companies have invested $20 billion in luxury hotels, giant casinos and VIP suites to satisfy Las Vegas residents’ massive gambling appetite. Vegas Sands. Chinese mainland.

“For investors, one big lure is that the city’s gambling tables make, on average, about seven times more money than tables in Las Vegas.” The New York Times reported in 2007. “The winnings are a testament to how serious gamblers are in this part of the world, despite the fact that China’s per capita income averages only $1,700 a year.”

By 2019, Macau accounted for 70% of Wynn’s business and 66% of Las Vegas Sands’ business. (MGM does not break down its annual revenue by country.)

Macau’s pandemic quarantine restrictions have devastated tourism for years. (Photo: Reuters)

Epidemic technology

From 2020 until August 2023, Las Vegas regained its title as the gambling capital of the world, but that was only a technicality. Weeks of strict COVID-19 quarantine restrictions imposed by Beijing’s “zero COVID” policy decimated Macau’s visitor numbers from 39 million in 2019 to 5.9 million a year later.

Adding to the damage is Beijing’s concurrent crackdown on parties – organized tours that help VIPs evade capital controls and move large sums of money from Macau to the mainland.

Macau saw gambling revenues of $36 billion in 2019 decline to $7.56 billion in 2020, allowing Las Vegas to lead with just $7.87 billion, its lowest annual total in the past 25 years.

China resumed quarantine-free travel in August 2022, and Macau removed all quarantine restrictions in January.

In the first half of 2023, Macau actually regained its throne when total gambling revenue reached nearly $10 billion, beating Las Vegas’ $7.5 billion for the same period, according to Wall Street Journal.

Barring another pandemic, it is a good thing that this trend will not reverse again.

Look for “Vegas Legends Busted” every Monday Casino.org. To read previously debunked Vegas Myths, visit VegasMythsBusted.com. Do you have a suggestion for a Vegas legend that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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