Simon’s Guide to Gambling in Macau

Picture of The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau. Gambling is legal and regulated in Macau.

Guide to Gambling in Macau


Macau (also spelled Macao), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China is a special administrative region on the southern coast of the People’s Republic of China. Macau is the most densely populated region in the world with almost 650,000 living in an area of 30.3 km2. The official languages in the region are Chinese and Portuguese while Cantonese and Macanese are spoken too. The region’s ethnicity consists of mostly Han Chinese and Portuguese groups.

Macau was first settled by Portuguese traders in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented by Portugal from Ming China as a trading port. So the Portugal Empire administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887 when Macau became a Portuguese colony. Macau was the last remaining European colony in Asia before its sovereignty was transferred back to China in 1999. Macau can operate with a high level of autonomy until at least 2049. Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, the State council of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for military defense and foreign affairs while Macau maintains its own legal system, public security force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy.

Gambling is legal since 1850’s when the Portuguese government legalized it in the colony. The city became the biggest gambling center in the world during the last decade (surpassing even Las Vegas in revenue).* Macau is one of the richest cities in the world too, mostly because of the booming gambling business and tourism. Macau is also known as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. Millions of players from around the world, especially from Hong Kong visit Macau every year. Online gambling is not regulated as of now. Players from Macau are accepted in numerous offshore online casinos if they want to play from the comfort of their homes, though.


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*New York Times: Macau Surpasses Las Vegas as Gambling Center






Casino gambling in Macau


Online casino gambling in Macau: not regulated


Gambling is completely legal in Macau since the colonial days. As of now, 33 casinos are operating in the city with The Venetian Macao being the biggest. The casino industry as a monopoly was controlled by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) from 1934 until 2001 when licenses started to be offered to other companies too (like the American Las Vegas Sands). STDM introduced the western style games, before that, only Chinese games were played in the region. The casinos now offer a wide variety of popular casino games like roulette, poker, blackjack, baccarat, and slot machines to name a few. The main casino operators in Macau are the STDM’s subsidiary, the SJM Holdings, along with the Galaxy Entertainment, and the Las Vegas Sands. Online gambling is not regulated as of now, but players from Macau can play in numerous offshore online casinos.



Bingo in Macau


Online bingo in Macau: not regulated


Bingo is very popular amongst gamers around the world, especially in the US. Macau is the world’s leading region of gambling so there is a high chance that you’ll find a land-based bingo hall there. However, online gambling is not that prominent in Macau at the moment as it is not regulated. Players from Macau are accepted in numerous offshore online casinos to play their favorite games like bingo, though.



Poker in Macau


Online poker in Macau: not regulated


Poker is quite possibly the most popular casino game ever created. The main reasons behind its ever growing popularity are the constant television broadcasts and regularly held national and world championships. Many would consider poker as a game of skill rather than a game of luck but in nature, it still counts as a form of gambling as it’s mostly played in casinos. Poker is a relatively new thing in Macau as it was first introduced in 2007 there. However, it quickly became popular in Macau too. Online gambling is not yet regulated in the region so players who want to play poker online “have” to visit an offshore online casino.


Sports betting in Macau


Online sports betting in Macau: not regulated


Sports betting is a common form of gambling around the world. In Macau, the betting focuses on horse and dog racing as they held regularly. There is only one online bookmaker (the Macau Jockey Club which organizes the races) operating in Macau as of now because online gambling is not regulated yet. However, players from Macau are accepted to bet at many offshore online bookmakers.



Lottery in Macau


Online lottery in Macau: not regulated


The lottery is quite possibly the most common form of gambling around the world. It’s safe to say that where gambling is legal there is a lottery. It is no different in Macau either. In Macau, the lottery is the Macau SLOT. The lottery can be played online too, but online gambling, in general, is not yet regulated in the region.



Bitcoin gambling in Macau


Bitcoin gambling in Macau: not regulated


Bitcoin is a digital currency often referred to as a so-called “cryptocurrency” introduced in 2008. It quickly became popular around the world as an alternative mean of payment. Bitcoin gambling appeared shortly after the introduction of the currency and continues to gain popularity as more and more online casinos started to specialize in it. However, Bitcoin is still a relatively new phenomenon so only just a handful of countries issued laws concerning it as of now. In Norway for example, Bitcoin is considered an asset rather than a currency. In Macau, there aren’t any specific laws concerning Bitcoin gambling or Bitcoin in general yet. Players from Macau are accepted in many offshore online casinos specialized in Bitcoin, though.



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This page is part of Simon’s List – Legal Status of Online Gambling – a definitive guide to the legal status of all forms of online gambling activities in every country around the world.


Last updated: 2016.01.22.

Simon's Macau Casino and Gambling Guide
Article Name
Simon's Macau Casino and Gambling Guide
An overview of gambling's legal status in Macau.

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