Smoking in the World's Sin City
Posted: Mar 14, 2007 8:59am ET
I was watching CNBC this morning while I was in Hong Kong and there was a report on how Macau, a tiny administrative region of China, generated more revenues in gambling last year than Las Vegas – $6.87 million compared to $6.7 million.
Incredible. I was smoking a Montecristo Petit Edmundo in Macau on Tuesday following a dinner at Wynn at the Il Teatro restaurant and I had no idea about the money involved! Wynn is one of a number of new casinos in the 10.9 square mile city. It’s an hour’s jetfoil from Hong Kong. The Venetian is expected to open in a month or two as well as Melbourne’s Crown. The former looks about the same as the Las Vegas operation but the 350 retail stores around the hotel and casino look a lot larger. A massive underwater hotel is being built across the street. Numerous other casinos are under construction or on the planning board.
I am not sure if the Chinese gamblers in Macau are going to be interested buying anything other than chips. They are ferocious gamblers. I toured the Sands with food and beverage manager, and it is the biggest casino in the world, with 230,000 square feet filled with close to 800 gaming tables and more than 12,000 slots. There are only 52 rooms and all are comped to high rollers. Very few gamblers come for sleeping in Macau. In fact, it is common for players to fall asleep on the tables.
I am not sure if I remember correctly but the average stay for a gambler in Macau is something like 23 hours, and I think 20 hours are spent gambling and the rest eating bowls of noodles and getting messages. Apparently, the 747 hanger sized facility of the Sands can be so packed that you can’t walk through the gaming floor. And many players will spend hours sitting in the same spot playing. Most only drink tea or milk as they play.
Macau is a hardcore gamblers venue. I played a few hands of blackjack and walked away a winner. But I couldn’t help but feel out of place. I guess I don’t take gambling that seriously. And I miss all the creature comforts of Vegas, including the excellent restaurants and shopping.
I had dinner with a handful of food and beverage guys at Wynn’s Italian restaurant and they were all very positive about the future in Macau. What they weren’t sure about was how long it would take the Chinese to learn to want to eat, drink and shop as well as gambling. Some casinos had already closed fine restaurants to add more gaming tables.
“You make a lot more money with gaming tables than restaurant tables here,” said one.
Besides higher gambling revenues, Macau has another thing over Vegas. You can smoke wherever you damned well please! As always, the Monte Petit Edmundo was fantastic. It’s a rich and decadent young smoke with lots of spicy, cedary and tobacco character. The more I smoke these the more I like them. There was something reassuring smoking that cigar in what is now the world’s most important Sin City. It was like finding a good friend in a big
crowd of people you don’t know…
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