Asia's Las Vegas celebrates 10 high-rolling years

Macau celebrated 10 years of Chinese rule yesterday, a frantic decade that has seen the once sleepy Portuguese colony transformed into an Asian gambling hub that makes more money from the tables than Las Vegas.

President Hu Jintao was on hand to oversee the celebrations, inspect the troops and inaugurate Macau's new leader, Fernando Chui. He also promised two pandas to Macau as a birthday present.

The Chinese leader urged Mr Chui to diversify business in the 27-sq-km territory into other areas such as logistics, and said China was always at hand to help.

The city, which lies around one hour from Hong Kong by ferry, should be "strengthening and improving the management of the gambling sector", diversifying the economy, lifting living standards and improving the educational system, President Hu said.

Macau's future may involve diversification into other areas, but the present is very much about the green baize tables and roulette wheels of the casinos. It is the only place in China where widespread gambling is legal, and it has capitalised on that status to become the world's biggest gambling city.

There is a widespread feeling that Macau needs China to survive. Construction has just begun on the world's longest cross-sea bridge linking the southern economic hub of Guangdong Province to Hong Kong and Macau. The sleepier side to the enclave is still around; you just have to look harder to find it. Portuguese and Chinese are the two official languages, signs along still-winding streets are in both tongues, and dotted around is the colonial, neo-classical architectural style seen in other former colonies such as Brazil. The city's elegant downtown has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The casino sector was hit by the economic crisis toward the end of last year and revenues began to fall, with thousands of workers laid off. But China's robust economy has helped keep Macau's casinos humming, and in October they raked in a record £980m – nearly twice that of Nevada.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Glazier

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...

Recruitment Genius: Office and Customer Services Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small but very busy (and f...

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot