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Macau - Las Vegas with sweet and sour sauce

Next to the Baroque facades and alleys of the old city these form a unique and attractive contrast.  

Macau Galaxy

macau galaxy complexThe last of the city’s mega-projects (opening on May 15th 2011) is just as grand and pompous in the image of the surrounding city: crazy, outlandish and surprising. The Macau Galaxy with its two huge towers and flashing pagodas. In the middle of it all the largest suspended swimming pool in the world, with 350 tons of sand and artificial waves of up to 1.50m. The complex will eventually host three hotels, 1500 rooms, 2800 square metres of spa, 50 restaurants, 52,000 square metres of gardens, 600 table games and 1500 slot machines.

Competing with the best

With such figures, the Macau Galaxy will attempt to put its powerful neighbours in the shade. It must be said that competition is tough in Macau. The Venetian which is a gigantic replica of the one in Las Vegas, inspired by the city of Venice itself. There is also the Sands Casino with its 800 slot machines, its Fisherman's Wharf, Roman amphitheatre and volcano (not a real one). Fans of ancient Greece will probably prefer the Greek Mythology where you can find in the lobby an enormous plaster Zeus brandishing a handful of plastic lightning rods.

Four times the turnover of Las Vegas

Macau is where kitsch and grandiose meets in a manner that sort of works. The peninsula received nearly 25 million tourists in 2010, mostly Chinese. The secret to this success is the green carpet of the casinos which has been a specialty of this former Portuguese colony since the 19th century. In 2010, the turnover of the casinos of Macau exceeded four times that of Las Vegas! Macau recorded an increase of 57.8% in one year equivalent to $23.5 billion. The city of Macau has the monopoly over the gaming industry in the People's Republic of China which is an unquestionable advantage.

How Macau came to dominate the Chinese gambling industry

This monopoly was held until the end of the 1990s by one man, the very powerful Dr Ho. He is still a recognized character in Macao. After the Portuguese handover to China in 1999 the gambling market was opened up. This led to an increase in the economic development of Macau and an explosion of the population. With 18.811 inhabitants per square kilometre, it is one of the most densely populated in the world. In order to accommodate the increasing population it was necessary to expand by regaining land from the sea. The Macau peninsula is connected to the islands of Taipa and Coloane. In little over a century, the surface area of Macau has increased from eleven square kilometres to around thirty square kilometres.