Best casinos macau

Best casinos macau


Macau Gambling Guide

(Last updated: April 30, )

No two gambling cities are ever the same.  Rules vary, comps vary, minimums vary, what you need to know before gambling there varies.  That&#;s why I&#;ve prepared this concise overview of the Macau gambling scene, where you&#;ll learn vital information about Macau&#;s best and worst games, which comps are useful and how to make the most of your time and money in the Chinese version of Sin City.

Macau Gambling: Introduction

Macau has had legalised gambling since the ’s.  Fan Tan was the game of choice way back then, and there were more than Fan Tan saloons in   In , the industry took a big step forward when SJM secured a monopoly on all gambling city wide.  Besides introducing more Western style games, Stanley Ho’s massive conglomerate also improved the ferry system between Hong Kong and Macau, which brought a lot more people in.

In , SJM’s monopoly ended when 5 other concessionaires were granted casino licenses:  Galaxy, Sands, Melco Resorts, Wynn and MGM.  This expansion ushered in the current era of Macau gaming, one characterized by unprecedented revenue growth and explosion.  In , casino revenues stood at billion US dollars a year.  By , that number had swelled to billion dollars, a fold increase in 6 short years.  Year on Year increases averaged well over 30%, with the biggest jump occurring between and , when casino revenues more than doubled in the space of 24 months.

The good times hit a wall in however, and many wondered if they’d ever come back.  Xi Jin Ping’s crackdown on mainland corruption led to a % YOY drop in gambling revenues from to   was even worse, with casinos only earning billion dollars, a whopping % YOY drop compared to the 44 billion they made in   The market took a year to stabilize in before registering very encouraging YOY increases of % in and 14% in   saw a slight dip of % YOY, perhaps indicating that revenues in and around 35 billion US dollars would be the new normal moving forward.

And then Covid reared its ugly head of course, decimating the market for three straight years between and    Gambling revenues plummeted all the way down to billion in before the rebound began in   I&#;d estimate Macau generates income close to 30 billion dollars again in , before easily exceeding that mark in

In terms of market share, Sands China lapped the field in , accounting for % of all gambling revenue.  Galaxy placed second at %, with everyone else between 12 and 15 percent (MGM %, Melco %, Wynn %. SJM %).  SJM being in last is no surprise, given their absence from the Cotai Strip for much of the last 20 years, while MGM&#;s lofty third place ranking represents a high water mark in their history.

Generally speaking, the six casino operators all run their casinos in the same way, so there aren’t any major differences between them.  All in all, only two things stand out to me: Las Vegas Sands casinos tend to have the best range of games, while the comps are generally worst in SJM casinos, the majority of which are satellite outlets, controlled by third party operators.

As of February , Macau has 6, gaming tables in operation along with 12, slot machines.

Macau Gambling: Geography

The overwhelming majority of Macau’s 31 casinos are located in 3 principal zones: the area around the Macau Ferry Terminal, the Amizade Strip and the Cotai Strip.

The 6 casinos around the Ferry Terminal are mostly smaller venues run by SJM, with the lone exception being the Sands Macao, the only monster casino in the area.

A 10 minute walk west along Avenue D’Amizade will bring you to the main Amizade strip, home to another 10 casinos, the most significant of which are the Wynn, MGM, Lisboa, and Grand Lisboa.

The new development zone for Macau gaming is the Cotai Strip, an area of reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane, which used to be two islands.  Now it’s all one large land mass, and where you&#;ll find all of Macau&#;s largest casinos, like the Venetian, City of Dreams, Galaxy, Studio City, Wynn Palace, Parisian and MGM Cotai.

It&#;s very similar to the Las Vegas Strip, in that there&#;s nothing there but huge casino properties and vast amounts of empty space.

Macau Gambling: Money

The currency of choice in casinos is Hong Kong Dollars, although a few places also accept Macau Patacas, aka Mops.

Tipping dealers is rare, so don’t feel the need to do it.  Of course, if you wish to do so, it won’t be refused.

Macau Gambling: Smoking

The Macau government made all mass gaming areas on casino floors go % smoke free in October , something I thought would never fly, particularly in Asia.  Hats off to them, it’s been a wonderful development.

Macau Gambling: The land of Baccarat

As mentioned above, Macau officially has 31 casinos but I’ve never bought that line.  To me, a casino is a place that offers a wide range of games (around 5 at least), along with some slots and video poker. If judged by that criteria, then half of the casinos in Macau aren’t what I&#;d call casinos at all, but Baccarat Halls instead.

A Baccarat Hall is a place where 95% of the tables are Baccarat and only two or three other games are offered, most likely Sic Bo and Blackjack (and those tables might not even open.)  To me, that’s not a casino and unless Baccarat is your game there&#;s no need to ever visit them.  Just leave them to the Chinese.

To get an idea of just how prevalent Baccarat is, look no further than the chart below, which lists games according to their Revenue.

Unbelievably, Baccarat accounted for a staggering %, with almost every game under 1%!

If a broad range of games is important to you, then you need to think big, as in the Big 13 casinos, which are mostly found in Cotai.

Sands China: Sands Macao, Venetian, Londoner, Parisian

Galaxy: Galaxy

Melco: Studio City, City of Dreams


SJM: Grand Lisboa Palace, Grand Lisboa

Wynn: Wynn, Wynn Palace

Truth be told, 95% of the tables in those casinos are Baccarat as well, but at least they offer 5 or 6 other games too.

Besides the Big 13 casinos, Ponte 16 and the Lisboa are excellent venues as well, although the latter is very Chinese.  I like them because the game selection is almost as good as the Big 13 casinos, while the minimums are a touch lower.  Which brings me to my next point….

Macau Gambling: The stakes are high and so am I

Macau is an extremely expensive place to gamble.  At the Big 13 casinos, standard minimums are creeping up to $ HKD, or 65 US dollars.  Ouch.  Electronic gaming machines have inundated the market recently that offer lower minimums of $20 to $ &#; but so what?  They’re electronic gaming machines, so they’re not as fun, and you can only play Baccarat, Sic Bo, and Roulette on them anyway.

In fact, you ask me what my biggest criticism of Macau gaming is, it’s that there aren’t enough low limit tables.  Or to put it another way, that I’m not rich enough to play there!

Here are notable $50 and $ games still offered in the city.

$ Commission Free Baccarat: Ponte 16

$ Blackjack: Ponte 16

$ Fan Tan (Fam, Nim, Kwok bets): Casa Real, Sands Macao, Jai Alai, Lisboa

$50 Sic Bo: Casa Real, Grandview

To ensure the list is up to date, you can always double check using the Search Games function found here: Macau Games.

Given the outrageous state of Macau table minimums, I&#;ve also prepared this list of notable Live Gaming Baccarat and Electronic Game lows.

$20 Live Gaming Commission Free Baccarat: Waldo ($10), Emperor Palace, Grand Lisboa Palace, Kampek

$10 Commission Free Baccarat: Galaxy, MGM Cotai

$10 Big Wheel: Grand Lisboa Palace, Studio City

$50 Blackjack: Wynn Macau ($30), Grand Lisboa Palace, Venetian

$50 Craps (Pass line bet): Venetian ($10), MGM Macau, MGM Cotai, Parisian

$5 Roulette (Outside bets): City of Dreams, Emperor Palace, Grand Lisboa, Oceanus

$10 Sic Bo (Big/Small/Even/Odd bets): Broadway, Galaxy, Grand Lisboa, Londoner Macao, Oceanus, Parisian, Venetian

Macau Gambling: Good rules

Okay it’s expensive, but at least the rules are good, at least compared to Vegas.  Macau has 5 games with a house edge under %: Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Fan Tan and Pai Gow, if you’re banking at the Lisboa.

The best Craps is found at the City of Dreams, Studio City and Galaxy (5 times odds) while the standard number city wide for Blackjack is only %, which is obviously quite good.  However, every casino uses an electronic shuffler, so forget about counting.

After these 5 games the good times end, as all other games are over 2%.  For the best rule among these 2% plus games look no further than Roulette.  All the tables in the city are single 0, a substantial improvement over the double 0 wheels that pollute Las Vegas.  Speaking of which…

Macau Gambling: Macau is nothing like Vegas

I’ve met a lot of people who don’t enjoy gambling in Macau.  They say it’s not fun and they’re probably right.  Party pits, free flow booze, friendly dealers, hot waitresses working it for tips, a festive fun atmosphere… no, no, no, no and no.  Gambling is a serious venture in Macau and the vibe on the floor reflects it.  Every casino is entertainment free with absolutely nothing going on, other than some background music if you’re lucky.

It probably also doesn’t help that you lose the banter with other players and the dealers, since 99% of the dealers and 97% of the other players can’t speak English.  No one really drinks anything either, but don&#;t let that stop you!  The tide finally turned in and free alcoholic beverages are now readily available in every large casino in town, including every one on the Cotai Strip.

The best free drinks are found at the Plaza casino, but you’ll sure be paying for it when you make your bets.  It’s certainly not a cheap place to gamble.

Macau Gambling: Player cards and promotions

I’ve stopped writing down the information related to promotions, because there aren’t enough good ones going around to make a difference.  The vast majority of Baccarat Halls do nothing, and while most Casinos will put something on, I don’t think they’re very useful for the recreational gambler.  Besides that, I think some of the promotions are rigged anyway.  I’ve participated in many a daily draw that just looked like an out and out sham.  Judging from the reaction of the winners, they knew they had it locked up before the numbers were called.

Player cards are widespread in Macau and 95% of casinos offer them.  The process is the same as everywhere else &#; just insert the card into the slot machine or hand it to the floorman before you start playing.  Points are then credited to the card according to how much you gamble which can later be redeemed for gifts and prizes.  Most of the nicer prizes like MacBooks and iPhones require a huge amount of points and you’re much better off just going to a store and buying what you want outright, rather than chasing it in a casino.  The shiny gift redemption catalogues sure look nice, but it takes a massive effort to redeem anything halfway worthwhile.

For that reason, I think the best promotions in Macau are tied to daily point accumulation, especially for recreational gamblers.  Most major casinos offer them and for more information, just follow the link to VIP Comps.

Player cards are also useful for shopping and dining discounts when frequenting the hotel’s shops and restaurants.  In general, the discounts range from 5 to 20%, which is not inconsequential.

All the best comps in Macau are reserved for the high rollers, aka VIPs, aka whales.  Free rooms are available at smaller hotels like Casa Real after buy ins of $30,, while a nicer place like the Lisboa requires $55,  The downside is that you can only play Baccarat afterwards.  If you have a much larger bankroll ($, plus) the options really open up in the form of private junkets or VIP dead chip programs that return cash back rebates and other room and dining comps.  For more information on that, please check out our VIP Intro.

For more detailed information about Macau&#;s best casinos, entertainment, drinks, player cards and more, have a look at our Macau Casino Guide below!