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If you were to gamble on it, you’d most likely bet that the world’s biggest casino was in Las Vegas, but you’d be wrong. It’s actually the Venetian Macao in the lesser known Chinese city of Macau that takes the crown. Recently celebrating its ten-year anniversary, we take a look inside the casino that has single-handedly put Macau on the map.
The Venetian Macao is the largest casino in the world. To give some idea of its scale, the Venetian’s total floor area is the equivalent of 56 football fields. In other words, you’d probably stand better odds of getting lost inside it than you would winning at the casino.
As Macau’s first mega-resort, the Venetian has become the city’s premier attraction. Ten years after it opened, the resort still welcomes 75,000 visitors a day and has played the biggest part in transforming Macau into the most successful gambling city in the world. Last year alone, Macau generated HK$217 billion in casino revenue, nearly five times the intake of the Vegas Strip.
The 39-storey building, which boasts 3,000 suites, cost US$2.4 billion to build. Styled on the famous Italian city of Venice, complete with its own indoor canals and gondolas, the Venetian opened on August 28, 2007 and hasn’t looked back since.
It was Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, who had the vision to build ‘a Las Vegas of the East’ which eventually became the Venetian Macao and the Cotai Strip (Macau’s equivalent of the Las Vegas Strip). “When I first got the vision, believe it or not, it actually came to me in a dream,” says Adelson.
The problem was, the entire area that is now home to The Venetian and Cotai Strip was under water at the time – it was nothing but a mud flat. However, Adelson was shown the 6.7-square-kilometre area of land in 2003, which set in motion his vision to build the Cotai Strip and a supersized version of the Venetian resort, which originally opened in Las Vegas in 1999.
A four-year land reclamation and construction process began, employing 20,000 workers and using 250,000 cubic metres of sand (enough to build the great pyramid) and the equivalent of 318 Olympic pools filled with concrete, among other materials, to build what is now the Venetian Macao.
The casino space inside the Venetian resort measures upwards of 34,000 square metres. It’s home to 878 gaming tables and 3,300 slot machines and is three times the size of the biggest casino in Vegas.
Far from being just a casino, the Venetian has 3,000 guest suites, a 13,000 seat entertainment arena, a Theatre with 1,800 seats, over 330 retail shops, more than 30 restaurants – from Michelin-starred fine dining to intimate bars and cafés, 108 meeting rooms, a giant ballroom, four outdoor swimming pools and even an 18-hole rooftop golf course. It’s a vast construction, like an entire indoor city – a destination within itself.
Ten years after it opened, half of all Macau tourists still visit the Venetian. In the past decade, Sands resorts in Macau have racked up an estimated HK$77 billion (US$9.85 billion) in earnings (before tax).
Still the biggest casino in the world, the Venetian Macao looks set to continue being its biggest winner, too – that is one bet you can almost guarantee.