Betting Against My Country In China’s Gambling Mecca

Recently you learned that I love animals and someday when I grow old I may be a zookeeper, or rather a zoo owner. Now it is time for you to learn about another hidden passion of mine. This one has a bit of a darker side to it and could be characterized as a dangerous addiction. I like to view it as leisure activity with a large element of strategy. Here’s a look under the hood at how I go gambling — Stateless style.

Where ought one go gambling Stateless style?? … China… where the state is tremendous in size but the former Portuguese colony of Macau is largely left alone. 21st Century Macau, at least for now, is an autonomous region, and it happens to be the gambling capital of the world.

Macau

Before we explore, Macau, including its surprisingly lovely Portuguese center and its contrasting Vegas-copied strip, let’s recap my gambling history. It is fairly extensive. Take notes. You might learn some tricks of the trade. 😉

 

It started in Mallorca  

My gambling career started at approximately the same time and place as my travel career — when I was 5 years old on holiday in Mallorca… with my grandma. We played bingo and I handled crossing off the numbers. We won about 100 euros, except there was no euro back then. So let’s call my first winnings about 200 D-Marks.

Fast forward to when I was of legal age. I had just turned 18 and was on a cruise ship from Germany to Norway. Again I was with my grandmother, but this time the occasion was my grandfather’s 80th birthday, and he of course was there too. The cruise had a casino. I played some roulette and was down to about 5 to 10 euros. I then put everything in on Number 23, my lucky number. It was a wise bet. I won 200-300 euros.

I should also note that in my teens I played a lot of poker with friends. We didn’t bet a lot of money, but I used these games to hone my skills and I won a lot. I also played online poker now and then as a young adult.

A couple years ago, I transformed into a mature gambler. It was the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and it was my coming of age moment in gambling. About six months before the election I placed my bet — Donald Trump. At the time, countless people were cracking jokes about Trump’s candidacy. The quotes on betting websites were high — around 50 to 1. I put in about 200 euros on Trump, and when he defeated Hillary Clinton and shocked much of the world, I received about 10,000 euros.

Can you guess what I did with my Trump winnings? Hint: It was late 2016, just before the great bull run.

Hear me out, though: Speculating is gambling. It is not cashflow investing, and it can involve big losses. But who am I to tell you not to do it? 😉

As you can see, gambling is part of my life… so much so in fact that part of my business is consulting people in the gambling industry on tax and internationalization strategies – and getting casino bank accounts.

 

So what did I bet on in Macau??

 My Macau trip was perfectly timed because it overlapped the beginning of the 2018 World Cup.  I’m German and Germany happens to be the defending World Cup champs. So did I bet on Deutschland? Nein. Actually I bet on German losing. Once again, a wise bet.

As I watched my countrymen lose 1-0 to Mexico, I profited. With a 7.25 to 1 quote, I bet 50 euros on a Mexico win. I got 362.50 euros. See how going Stateless is profitable? 😉

Turning to the card tables, Texas Holdem is my favorite game. Unfortunately, Texas Holdem is not popular in China. I went through a bunch of casinos in search for a Texas Holdem game. All I found was a single game with a $500 minimum buy-in. I skipped it.

Nonetheless, I will hone my poker skills. And here, two thirds of the way through a Christoph.today blog post about Macau, I am announcing… I have decided to become a professional poker player — as a side hustle. Keep an eye out for the tall German guy at the table the next time you tune into a poker broadcast.

 

Macau: the “Las Vegas of Asia” or gambling capital of the world?

Macau has been nicknamed the “Las Vegas of Asia.” That makes sense because Macau looks like a cheap copy of Vegas, with many of the same big brand resorts. You can visit the Eiffel Tower at the Parisian and the canals at the Venetian.

The Parisian Macao

The Venetian Macao

But Macau dwarfs Las Vegas in terms of gambling revenue. In 2013, Macau’s gambling revenue reached 7 times Vegas’s total. Chinese people flock from the mainland to Macau to play games and place bets. People also pour into Macau by boat from nearby Hong Kong. By the way, I was one of those people.

While the Macau strip may merely mimic Vegas, the city actually has a lot of flavor and beauty that Vegas is lacking. Macau has a Portuguese colonial center where signs are still in Portuguese and there are plenty of churches and buildings that don’t look like a cheap copy of some other place.

The gem of the old city center is the ruins of St. Paul’s. Originally a college and a church, St. Paul’s is now merely a stone façade sitting atop a hill with steps below where people sit. The site is particularly picturesque when the sun is setting off to the side of the ruins.

The Ruins of St. Paul’s

Other sites in town include Senado Square, where you can find historic European buildings; Fortaleza do Monte, a fortress in the historical military center of Macau; and a bungee jump that happens to be the highest in Asia.

Fortaleza do Monte

A note for the libertarian gossip consumers:

Yes, what you spotted online was correct. No, your eyes were not deceiving you. Indeed, while perusing Macau, I linked up with a person who may be of interest to some of you.

Me with Alexander

Alexander is an internet famous German libertarian… and he actually exists in real life. Most people think he is a strange guy, but he is a real person and a nice guy to boot, he is currently living near Shanghai, Mainland China, and often travelling the chinese area. We jointly struggled to find Texas Holdem games in Macau.

He told me about his business in China, where he is holding his residence and cooperating with chinese factories and research institutes, where he is developing biodegradable polymer compounds as a material scientist, innovator and entrepreneur. A lot of prejudice is told about china, and if you are curious, you might also meet with him for some reality check and listen to some interesting stories about his emigration from germany, about the possibilities in China for doing business, except from High-Tech, Internet, Consulting, etc. business, which still suffers from Bad infrastructure on Mainland, and can find more suitable other locations in the world. In his opinion, China is an interesting place to source and manufacture “real” products, and also one of the largest domestic and export markets of the world. He also told me about his opinion about residence, taxation and issues doing business in China, and we could exchange our ideas and strategies.

I guess what happens in Macau does not stay in Macau. Nonetheless, no scandal here. My trip to Macau was enjoyable, and thanks to my lack of patriotism, profitable.

 

Stay: I stayed on Macaos Cotai Island – with the large Vegas style megacasinos, malls and big hotel chains. Due to my Hilton Platinum I chose the Conrad Hotel within the Sands Cotai complex. The hotel has a nice executive lounge and a very good spa with relaxing massages. As every Hilton no surprises – neither positive nor negative.

 

Eat: Macao is not Vegas, even if it has more gambling revenue. Eating options are actually quite limited – and hardly a restaurant open after 10 pm in the Cotai area. I mostly used the Conrad Executive lounge and room service for eating thus.

 

Drink: Likewise restaurants, there are hardly decent bars and clubs in Macao. The city state is about gaming, not about drinking. Of course, you can within most casinos, but finding a decent bar with good cocktails or a dance club is actually quite hard without local suggestions.

 

Connect: Internet wont fail you in Macau – neither Wifi nor Mobile. Due to its closeness to Mainland China be aware not to connect with the censored Chinese networks if you are on a global plan like Google Fi.

 

See: As you see above, the Portuguese heritage center of Macao is quite nice. Portuguese-style architecture combined with Asian culture is an interesting sight to behold. Just strolling around the alleys and visiting the fort for views over the city is recommended. Just walking 15min to the old casinos is worth it. They ooze much more charm than their fake counterparts on the Cotai side of Macao.

 

Do: Well, Macao is about gambling. If you are not there for gambling, you are easily done with sightseeing on a daytrip from Hong-Kong. So if you are there over night, do me the favour, just try it. You may be lucky.

 

Go there: The huge combined Macao Hong-Kong bridge and tunnel nears completion and will enable road traffic between the two territories and mainland China. Right now, you take quarter-hourly ferries from Hong-Kong town or airport. If you land in HK, you can directly board a ferry without passing HK immigration. Macao also has a airport known for cheap airlines.

 

Go next: If you are in Macao, you should not miss Hong-Kong. Mainland china with Guangzhou and Shenzhen is the next logical way. Pretty close to Macao lies Taiwan – Macaos airport long time was the transit hub between Mainland china and Taiwan as direct flights between both countries were not possible.