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Gambling in Macau

Macau (also spelled Macao), a former Portuguese colony, has been one of China’s Special Administrative Regions since 1999. It is the only jurisdiction in the country where gambling is fully legal. It has been so since the mid-19th century when Portugal legalized it. From then on Macau has earned the nickname "Monte Carlo of the Orient".

The industry in Macau is regulated mainly by Law 16/2001 (regime jurídico da exploração de jogos de fortuna ou azar em casino).

Gambling is a huge part of the economy, contributing approximately half of the region’s revenues. Most of it is due to the many casinos, whose visitors come mostly from mainland China and Hong Kong, but players from other Asian countries also contribute to the tourism volume substantially. Betting on horse and greyhound races, as well as playing the lotteries is also popular.

Online Gambling in Macau

Macau does not currently issue licenses to online gambling operators as there is no legal framework for doing so. The existing internet gambling selection consists of two sports betting sites with painfully dated design and functionality. One is operated by the Macao Jockey Club and offers wagering on horse races. The other one is run by the Sociedade de Lotarias e Apostas Mútuas de Macao (SLOT) and customers may play the sports lottery based on football and basketball.

Those Macau residents who are not satisfied with limited-options, retro-feel online betting, usually visit foreign online gambling sites. The virtual world is filled with sites that either accept or even cater specifically to Chinese speaking players. Since Macau is a Special Administrative Region within China, any changes to local online gambling regulations can only be expected if Beijing gives the green light for whatever reason. At the same time, however, local players are not explicitly banned from using international sites unlike they are in Mainland China.