Vice Squad
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The September issue of The Atlantic offers a lengthy article (subscribers only) by James Fallows on gambling in Macau (or Macao). I learned a lot:

-- In geographical terms, Macau is one-sixth the size of Washington, DC, with a population of about half a million.

-- The fact that Macau surpassed Vegas last year in gambling revenue is misleading, because "[c]asino earnings make up nearly all of Macau's tourist-related revenue, while they're barely 40 percent of the Las Vegas Strip. The rest comes from conventions, shows, high-end dining, and fancy malls."

-- "Macau also imposes a tax of up to 40 percent on casino earnings, far higher than in most U.S. states." (But not higher than in Vice Squad's base of Illinois.)

-- Macau's casinos are relatively quiet. First, alcohol is not prevalent and is not given out free to gamblers. Second, the gambling is dominated not by noisy slot machines, but by table games. "In Las Vegas, slots account for roughly 60 percent of the total casino win; in Macau, roughly 5 percent."

-- Most of the money wagered in Macau is put down in sub-contracted "VIP rooms" that operate within casino premises but are not operated by the casino company. The betting currency typically is Hong Kong dollars.

I could go on, but the main point is that the article is well worth reading. If you do not like to read, you are still in luck. Here's a related and superb 5-minute slideshow on Macau, narrated by Fallows and available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.

Previous Vice Squad posts on Macau include these on March 27, 2007, and December 1, 2004.

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