The history of gambling followed the trajectory of gambling in other regions close to it for many years.
The Chinese have always had some form of clandestine gambling, which Macau probably followed. It is widely known that games and betting were played around the times of Xia (1900-1600 BC) and Shang (1600-1027 BC.).
However, the significant impact of gambling wasn't felt until the Portuguese government allowed Chinese casinos to operate in exchange for tax and rents.
This was to attract more business in the region. Originally it was just Hong Kong nationals and the Chinese that were attracted to the area. However, as casinos gained a reputation for western-influenced games, visitors from other countries followed.
The casino industry was a monopoly for many years under the guise of the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), created in 1962. This was a group of businessmen with connections to underground syndicates.
Stanley Ho was a well known and legitimate businessman representing SDTM. He branched out into other business activities, which supported gambling and other economic generators in the region. SDTM and Ho had most of the casinos under their banner until 2002.
Gambling nowadays in Macau
Other operators began showing their strength in the region around the mid-2000s. However, SDTM still plays a significant role in managing and partially owning casinos.
The modern realities of gambling mean that Macau is in a transition phase. This is due to the popularity of online casinos all over the world.
So far, there hasn't been complete acceptance of this new type of gambling. Macau's Gaming Law only allows privately-owned entities to run online gambling. There has been little movement in this area, and licenses have not been issued.
Macau does not allow gambling at online casinos by its citizens but also does nothing to condone it. There is no policy for online gambling in the region.
This isn't very pleasant for existing casinos that are looking to expand in Macau. It means that it is technically not illegal to use online casinos. However, Macau casinos can't operate online.
The future of online casinos in Macau
So far, no regulated online market has been established in Macau. This may be to the detriment of the economy, particularly as the profits of prominent players in the market have been sluggish recently.
Online gambling and casinos are here to stay, and it will be interesting to see how the region reacts to this new industry. For now, it seems that any casino that wants to enter into the online casino realm will face a barrage of legal and political problems.
This means that nothing will change unless the government allows online casinos to operate and let players patronize freely or entirely ban it. For now, Macau players will continue to use foreign-owned online casinos for their enjoyment.
This is despite Macau being located in a hot spot for internet usage. Asia continues to enjoy using the internet while they live busy lives. There is a huge demand for internet use, and Macau will need to move towards liberalization soon to capture some of this market.
However, Macau is still deliberating about how to license and regulate the activities of online gambling. They face the problem of how they should protect the current casino industry wanting to extend into an online operation.
Furthermore, they need to ensure that the monopolies do not overreach and block out smaller players.
Some current operators want to embrace esports to diversify the economy and make more revenue. This type of gaming is new on the market and is a new type of gambling on multiplayer computer games.