While gambling remains illegal in mainland China, it is pure oxygen for Macao, which Portugal handed back to China in December 1999. The tiny territory, which has been enjoying a gambling-tourist-building boom since 2004, relies on gambling for 75 percent of its tax base.
The $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort, the world’s largest casino
LOOKING like a giant, twinkling Fabergé egg, and topped by a 52-story hotel tower in the shape of a soaring lotus flower, the new Grand Lisboa casino here caters to tens of thousands of tourists, mostly Chinese. They crowd around 170 baccarat tables and yank levers on hundreds of slot machines in a round-the-clock gambling frenzy, making it quite clear why this tiny territory west of Hong Kong is known as “Asia’s Las Vegas.” The Grand Lisboa is also the crown jewel of a casino empire controlled by Stanley Ho, the strong-willed and secretive billionaire who for 40 years held the city’s only gambling license.