Beginner ‘wins big’ in Macau casino

The gaming industry accounts for about half of Macau’s gross domestic product (Source: www.chinadaily.com)
The gaming industry accounts for about half of Macau’s gross domestic product (Source: http://www.chinadaily.com)

I’ve seen several articles on the Internet describing Macau as the “Las Vegas of Asia.”

Well, I haven’t been to Las Vegas, but at least I’ve set foot on its so-called Asian version.

When I was in Macau, I vowed not to leave it without having the experience of playing in a casino.

In the first week of my almost a month-long stay in Macau, I went to the Lisboa area where some of the casinos are located.

I didn’t gamble though. I just took pictures of the colorful facades of the casinos.

The actual gambling would come later. At the time, I just savored the sights that helped earn for Macau its moniker.

Macau beats Vegas

According to a Voice of America report, Macau exceeded the gambling revenues of Las Vegas in 2006.

In that year, the report said, Macau earned almost seven billion dollars from gambling. The gambling income of Las Vegas was 6.6 billion dollars.

Another report, this time by Reuters, painted a bright picture for Macau’s gambling profits in the near future.

The report was not as optimistic when it talked about Las Vegas.

Follow the money… show me the money…

Picture taking is prohibited inside the casino, so I just asked someone to take my picture with the Venetian Hotel as the background
Picture taking is prohibited inside the casino, so I just asked someone to take my picture with the Venetian Hotel as the background

I couldn’t deny the things mentioned in the reports.

Seeing the glitzy casinos of Macau, I almost forgot that a financial meltdown is currently roiling the world.

But I would never forget that I was in no position to spend a handsome amount of money in a casino.

I had set aside only 200 Hong Kong dollars (about 25 US dollars) for gambling.

I reminded myself that once I spent all of my Hong Kong money allocated for gambling, I would be done with that activity.

Now, why did I mention Hong Kong dollars and not patacas, the local currency? Based on some articles on the Internet about Macau that I had read before coming to this Special Administrative Region of China, casinos don’t accept Macanese money.

It’s true. The Venetian Hotel slot machines that I had used rejected patacas. They only accepted Hong Kong dollars. As to why, I don’t know. I also don’t know if this is practiced in all casinos in Macau.

All I know is that Macau’s money is not accepted in some parts of Macau itself.

For the heck of it

I didn’t gamble to win big. Okay, at the back of my mind, I also wanted to win millions of Hong Kong dollars. But I was aware that it was a long shot.

Cash ticket showing prize in Hong Kong dollars. Pataca, the local currency, is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar
Cash ticket showing prize in Hong Kong dollars. Pataca, the local currency, is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar

I wanted to play because it would be my first time to gamble in a casino.

And yes, I played just for the heck of it.

I did win some money by playing the slot machines.

However, the prizes never got higher than 20 Hong Kong dollars (about 2.50 US dollars).

A slot machine releases a cash ticket after a player decides to take his or her winnings. The player can then get the money from the ATMs.

The ATMs dispensed Hong Kong dollar bills and coins. It was my first time to see ATMs that actually released coins. All my life I thought that ATMs only dispensed paper money and receipts.

I had lots of fun despite my negligible winnings.

With these memories, I feel that I’m already a big winner.

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