Close to an estimated US$7.4 billion worth of new
development, centered around entertainment and casinos, has transformed
the sleepy backwater of Macau into a hive of activity.
China’s strategy is to turn Macau into the Las Vegas of Asia, according
to a report by Hong Kong-based UBS Investment Research, "Macau Gaming –
Let the Games Begin". It says the political incentive is driven by the
upcoming 10th anniversary of Macau’s handover to China in 2009. UBS says
a common language, proximity (with a billion people within three hours’
flight time), and the limited variety of entertainment venues in China,
give Macau a competitive advantage. The report adds that China’s
economic growth provides a sustainable base for gaming enterprises in
Macau. Last year, Macau earned US$5.4 billion from gaming – narrowly
beating the Las Vegas Strip (US$5.3 billion) as the world’s largest
A pivotal decision by the Macau government – to end a 40-year monopoly
on casino operations in 2002 by granting three new licenses – triggered
the current development boom in Macau.