The Chinese so love gambling that it's often said that if two flies are walking on the wall, the Chinese will bet on which one will walk faster. It's not surprising, therefore, that mainland and Hong Kong Chinese together with Taiwanese make up more than 90% of the 20-some million annual visitors to Macau.
In 2002, a 40-year monopoly on gambling ended, paving the way for grander casinos and an upsurge in Las Vegas-style entertainment. The number of casinos quickly grew from 11 in 2002 to more than 30 today, approximately half of them owned by foreign investors. Many are located in hotels or large resort complexes. Some are fancy, others not so, but none allow photographs to be taken, and shorts may not be worn. Admission is free, but you may be required to show a passport to enter. All are open 24 hours.
Macau's casinos, designed mostly for the Asian market, offer blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and slot machines (known, appropriately enough, as "hungry tigers"), but Chinese games like fan tan and sic bo dominate. If you're interested in seeing the largest casino in the world, head to the casino at Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel on Cotai (tel. 853/2882 8888; www.venetianmacao.com), a 50,725-sq.-m (546,000-sq.-ft.) space with more than 3,400 slot machines and 800 table games. Nearby in the City of Dreams is another casino with 378 tables and more than 1,000 machines (tel. 853/8868 6688; www.cityofdreamsmacau.com). More centrally located is the MGM Grand Macau, Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-sen (tel. 853/8802 8888; www.mgmgrandmacau.com), with 386 table games and 1,000 slot machines. Nearby, the Wynn Macau, Rua Cidade de Sintra (tel. 853/2888 9966; www.wynnmacau.com), attracts crowds not only to its casinos but also to Performance Lake with its choreographed dancing fountains. Here also is the Grand Lisboa, Avenida de Lisboa (tel. 853/2828 3838; www.grandlisboa.com), the first to add Texas Hold'em in its casino. Other hotels with casinos include Holiday Inn, Hotel Lisboa, Hard Rock Hotel, and Altira, with more slated to open in the next few years.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.