Macau, often referred to as the “Las Vegas of the East,” is a world-renowned hub for gambling and entertainment. Its luxurious hotel casinos offer a blend of East and West, where traditional Chinese culture meets the glitz and glamour of high-stakes gaming. In this 88Play guide, we’ll delve into some of the best hotel casinos Macau has to offer, providing you with a rundown of their pros and cons.
1. The Venetian Macao
- Size and Scale: The Venetian boasts of being the largest casino in the world by floor space. The expansive gaming areas, retail spaces, and more than 3,000 suites ensure there’s something for everyone.
- Themed Experience: Inspired by Venice, Italy, the resort provides guests with an authentic feel, complete with gondola rides on its canals.
- Events and Entertainment: Regular international performances, shows, and sporting events are held at the Cotai Arena.
- Size Can Be Overwhelming: The vastness of the property can be a downside for some, making it easy to get lost.
- Potentially Crowded: Given its popularity, expect heavy crowds, especially during peak seasons.
The Venetian Macao, inspired by its sister casino in Las Vegas, stands as an epitome of luxury in Macau’s Cotai Strip. As the largest casino in the world by floor space, it exudes grandeur with its replication of Venice’s enchanting landmarks. Visitors are greeted with Venetian-inspired architecture, encompassing intricate details and a romantic ambiance. One of its most popular attractions is the Grand Canal, where tourists can enjoy gondola rides beneath bridges and balconies, serenaded by gondoliers. The sprawling gaming floor is a gambler’s paradise, featuring a vast range of gaming options. In addition to this, The Venetian offers an extensive range of suites, each designed to provide guests with opulent comfort and breathtaking views of the city. For shoppers, the Grand Canal Shoppes offer a curated selection of international brands and authentic souvenirs.
Gambling Offerings: The Venetian offers one of the most extensive gaming floors in Macau. Spread over multiple levels, the casino boasts over 6,000 slot machines and 800 gaming tables. Table games range from classic offerings like baccarat, blackjack, and roulette to more regional favorites such as sic bo and fan tan. The exclusive Paiza Club caters to high-rollers with its luxurious setting and private gaming rooms.
2. City of Dreams
- Variety: City of Dreams offers a selection of hotels within its complex, including Nuwa, The Countdown, and Grand Hyatt.
- House of Dancing Water: This iconic water show is a must-see, setting it apart from other Macau properties.
- Diverse Gaming Options: A vast array of table games and slot machines await gamblers.
- Expensive: The high-end offerings and experiences can be a bit pricey.
- Busy: It’s one of the hottest spots in Macau, so expect large crowds.
City of Dreams, aptly named, provides visitors with a surreal experience that seems to merge fantasy with reality. It’s a multi-tower structure, each housing luxurious accommodations with their distinct character. The gaming area is vast and pulsates with energy, offering a mix of both table and electronic games. The highlight of the resort is the ‘House of Dancing Water,’ a theater spectacle that combines acrobatics, aquatic performances, and cutting-edge visuals. This theatrical experience stands as a testament to Macau’s position as Asia’s entertainment capital. Culinary enthusiasts can embark on a gastronomic journey with an array of dining options, ranging from contemporary Western cuisine to traditional Asian delicacies.
Gambling Offerings: City of Dreams is known for its dynamic gaming atmosphere. The casino offers a mix of over 400 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines. Players can choose from traditional games like baccarat, poker, and blackjack or try their hand at more contemporary electronic games. The casino also houses exclusive VIP areas for the high-stake gamblers seeking a more private gaming experience.
3. MGM Cotai
- Artistic Flair: MGM Cotai stands out with its art collection, including the Spectacle, a large LED screen displaying artistic visuals.
- Innovative Dining: Numerous award-winning dining options cater to every palate.
- Modern Amenities: Being one of the newer resorts, it boasts state-of-the-art amenities and facilities.
- Less Traditional: Those seeking a more traditional Macau feel might find MGM Cotai too modern.
MGM Cotai stands as a glittering jewel amidst Macau’s illustrious skyline. A modern marvel, it infuses innovative architecture with state-of-the-art facilities. While it proudly boasts a mammoth gaming space, what sets it apart is its commitment to art and culture. The ‘Spectacle’ is a massive display area with digital art and nature harmoniously coexisting. The art collection within the hotel is both extensive and impressive, with pieces from renowned artists globally. The culinary offerings are vast, each restaurant and bar exuding its distinct charm, be it through ambiance or a unique menu.
Gambling Offerings: MGM Cotai, with its state-of-the-art gaming floor, provides a vast range of options for both novice and experienced gamblers. Over 2,500 slot machines and 175 gaming tables are available. The casino offers classic table games, including baccarat, blackjack, and roulette, along with unique offerings like three-card poker. MGM Cotai also has specialized spaces dedicated to high-stake players.
4. Wynn Palace
- Elegant Design: From its beautiful floral sculptures to the Performance Lake shows, Wynn Palace exudes luxury.
- Gourmet Dining: The hotel offers a wide range of fine dining restaurants with several Michelin-starred options.
- Cable Car: The unique SkyCab offers an aerial view of the resort.
- Pricey: Staying and dining here can be on the expensive side.
Wynn Palace is the embodiment of sophistication. Every inch of this hotel casino whispers luxury, from its ornate detailing to its sumptuous accommodations. The Performance Lake is a visual treat, with dancing water fountains choreographed to popular tunes, ensuring a mesmerizing experience for visitors. A notable feature is the SkyCab, a cable car experience offering panoramic views of the resort’s beauty. The dining at Wynn Palace is a gourmet’s delight. Each restaurant, whether Michelin-starred or a casual eatery, promises a memorable dining experience.
Gambling Offerings: Wynn Palace, known for its opulence, extends this luxury to its gaming floors. The casino offers over 1,000 slot machines and 350 table games. From VIP baccarat to poker, there’s a game for everyone. Notably, Wynn has a reputation for offering some of the highest table limits in Macau, making it a favorite among high-rollers.
5. Grand Lisboa
- Iconic Design: The distinctive lotus-shaped architecture makes it a landmark in Macau.
- Central Location: Situated in the heart of Macau, it’s close to many other attractions.
- Rich History: Unlike newer properties, Grand Lisboa has a deep-rooted history in the city’s gaming culture.
- Older Property: While it has its charm, some parts of the hotel show signs of wear and tear.
Grand Lisboa stands as a testament to Macau’s rich gambling history. With its distinctive lotus-flower design, it has become an iconic structure in the city. It offers a seamless blend of the classic and the modern. The gaming floors echo the grandeur of traditional casinos, while the accommodations promise contemporary luxury. The hotel’s dome is home to ‘The Star of Stanley Ho,’ one of the largest cushion-cut diamonds in the world. Culinary delights abound, with the hotel housing several award-winning restaurants.
Gambling Offerings: Grand Lisboa, one of Macau’s most iconic casinos, provides a blend of traditional and modern gaming experiences. With more than 800 gaming tables and 1,000 slot machines, it’s a gambler’s paradise. Traditional games like baccarat and roulette are available alongside less common games such as stud poker. The StarWorld VIP zone within the casino is dedicated to high-stake gamblers, ensuring a premium gaming experience.
6. Studio City
- Hollywood Theme: The cinema-inspired design, complete with a Ferris wheel integrated into its facade, makes it unique.
- Entertainment Galore: With offerings like Batman Dark Flight and Warner Bros. Fun Zone, it’s family-friendly.
- Diverse Dining: From casual eats to gourmet meals, there’s a wide range.
- Less Intimate: The Hollywood theme might not resonate with everyone, especially those looking for a more intimate, luxurious experience.
Studio City is where Hollywood glam meets casino magnificence. This cinematic-themed resort offers visitors an experience unlike any other. The Golden Reel Ferris wheel, built within the hotel’s towering structure, promises unrivaled views of Macau. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the Batman Dark Flight is a thrilling 4D simulation ride. The gaming areas pulsate with energy, ensuring both novices and seasoned gamblers have an unforgettable experience. Dining options cater to every palate, with themed restaurants and bars ensuring a cinematic experience even during meals.
Gambling Offerings: Studio City offers a cinematic gambling experience, with its gaming areas designed to reflect its Hollywood theme. The casino boasts around 1,200 gaming machines and 250 tables. Players can indulge in a mix of classic games and newer offerings. Studio City places a considerable emphasis on electronic table games, providing a modern twist to traditional gambling.
Basic Information When Visiting Macau:
- Currency: Macau Pataca (MOP), but Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) are widely accepted.
- Language: Cantonese is the primary language, but Mandarin, English, and Portuguese are also spoken.
- Transport: The region boasts an efficient public transport system, including buses, taxis, and shuttle services offered by many hotels.
- Visa: Most nationalities can enter Macau visa-free for short visits, but it’s best to check in advance.
- Climate: Macau has a humid subtropical climate. Winters (December to February) are mild and dry, while summers (June to August) are hot and rainy.
Macau offers an unparalleled blend of gambling, entertainment, and culture. Whether you’re looking for the glitz of modern resorts or the charm of traditional casinos, Macau has something for every traveler. By weighing the pros and cons of each hotel casino, visitors can find a destination that perfectly suits their tastes and preferences.
Macau’s Casino Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) Overview
- 2000s Growth: Macau’s gaming industry saw significant growth after the government ended the gaming monopoly in 2002. This move allowed international casino operators to enter the market. From 2003 to 2013, Macau witnessed an impressive growth rate in its GGR, driven primarily by VIP baccarat players and an increasing number of mainland Chinese tourists.
- Peak in 2013: 2013 was a record year for Macau, with its GGR reaching an all-time high of around $45 billion. This was nearly seven times the revenue generated by Las Vegas casinos that year.
- Decline from 2014-2016: Starting in 2014, Macau’s gaming industry faced headwinds due to various factors, including China’s anti-corruption campaign, which deterred VIP gamblers. During this period, Macau’s GGR fell for 26 consecutive months.
- Recovery in 2017-2019: The industry began to recover in 2017 as the focus shifted from VIP gamers to mass-market players and non-gaming entertainment. New integrated resorts opened, and infrastructure improvements, like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, made the city more accessible. In 2019, the GGR was approximately $36.5 billion.
- Impact of COVID-19 in 2020-2021: The global pandemic severely impacted Macau’s gaming industry. Strict travel restrictions and quarantine measures led to a drastic drop in visitors, causing the GGR to plummet. In 2020, Macau reported a GGR of around $7.5 billion, representing a decline of nearly 80% from the previous year.
The trajectory in 2021 was contingent on various factors, including the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations, the relaxation of travel restrictions, and economic recovery in China and the broader region. While the GGR in 2021 showed signs of recovery with a gradual increase in tourists, it had not reached pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.
In conclusion, Macau’s gaming industry has experienced highs and lows over the past two decades. While it has demonstrated resilience, external factors like government policies and global events have influenced its performance. As of 2021, the industry’s future was tied to the broader recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.