When the average person thinks of casinos and/or gambling, no doubt their mind’s eye is immediately directed to the classic Las Vegas Strip, that huge glowing gambling capital backed by tales and notions of the American Dream while also serving as the setting of innumerable classic works in popular culture. With such a prestigious, iconic background, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Vegas is the biggest, most prosperous gambling center that our young world has ever known.
Or, at least, it was, until about a decade ago when it was overtaken by a region in East Asia known as Macau. Gambling in Macau began around 1850 after being legalized by the Portuguese government. In the century and a half since, Macau’s gambling scene has figuratively exploded in relation to how tiny of a blip such a period of time is in the big scheme of our universe, leaving the Las Vegas Strip in the dust in 2007 with its revenue income and counting for about half of Macau’s total economy. Originally solely featuring traditional Chinese games of chance, Macau expanded to also include Western games about eighty years into its gambling scene, and as that proverbial snowball grew bigger and bigger through the turn of the century, the rest became history. Make no mistake; if one is a gambling enthusiast or even just a casino nut whose lifelong dream is to visit the most beautiful of such establishments throughout the world, Macau needs to be moved to the top of that bucket list.
Since gambling is usually onset by dreaming big, let’s start big. The Venetian Macao is the world’s largest casino, mapping in at an astonishing 546,000 square feet. Being the second largest building in the world, the Venetian Macao is an astonishingly beautiful sight to behold both inside and out, especially at night. It houses enough entertainment within its gorgeous walls to fill a tourist’s entire vacation on its own. On top of the over 6000 gaming machines and about 900 table games, the Venetian Macao also houses a wide array of restaurants, a gigantic hotel (meaning you’ll never be too far from those yummy poker tables! And restaurants…), and even an arena that fits 15,000 spectators. Imagine seeing a band like Alice in Chains at such an establishment? It’d be unforgettable. The Venetian Macao is the crowned jewel of Macau, and absolutely must be graced by your retinas in full physical form before you die.
Size isn’t always everything, my friends. While it’s always great to visit the wonders, sometimes our fondest experiences come from the smaller, more grounded, oft quietly passionate sidesteps off the beaten path, like going back to listen to Your Time is Gonna Come off Led Zeppelin’s first album after spending a weekend rocking out to their classic hit Kashmir. The Kam Pek Casino is another jewel on Macau’s gambling scene, scoring a full 5/5 stars from the few reviews it has on Google’s review site. This place isn’t a casino so much as an arcade; table games are everywhere in this place where dealers play roulette, baccarat and sic bo with varied bet minimums. The place is decorated to have a sort of tropical feel to it, with palm trees all around and even a giant fish tank on the third floor that helps to set that peaceful “I-totally-won’t-go-bankrupt-on-this-trip” mood while taking a break from the slots. As with the majority of Macau’s establishments, the staff isn’t very fluent in English, but the instructions for all of the games are in English, so we tourists are in the clear!
This last place is for those who’d rather start out small with some rice dumplings on the side. The Casa Real doesn’t have nearly as many game corners as the previously mentioned establishments and is more of a hotel, but it’s got enough to keep one coming back. At 120 slots and 50 table games across 36,000 square feet, Casa Real has everything one could dream of for their gambling needs, and who can go wrong with gourmet rice dumplings? The Casa Real, like the Kam Pek and so many other casinos throughout Macau, is more than worth one’s time especially if they’re prone to being overwhelmed. Overall, there’s no way to get a feel for all of the casinos spanning across the gambling capital of the world in just one trip, so it’s important to mix it up every now and then in order to get a real experience out of it all!