Macau leapfrogs Switzerland in world wealth league table

Jul 3, 2014

Gambling Chinese tourists have turned Macau into the fourth richest territory in the world

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The Chinese gambling mecca of Macau has overtaken Switzerland to become the fourth richest territory in the world, according to new figures from the World Bank.

The former Portuguese colony's GDP per capita spiked by 18.4 per cent last year to $91,376, compared with $80,528 in Switzerland.

Only Luxembourg, Norway and Qatar are believed to be wealthier, although the [1]Financial Times highlights the absence of Monaco and Liechtenstein, "who would almost certainly top the table".

The UK was in 21st place.

Analysts attribute Macau's growth to an increase in regional tourism, coupled with a massive influx of visiting gamblers from mainland China.

Last year the territory attracted almost 17 million Chinese visitors, compared with just 800,000 in 1999.   

The FT says that since Macau was returned to China in 1999 its economy has exploded, growing by 557 per cent in 15 years. The most dramatic expansion came after Beijing's abolition of gaming concessions in 2002, it says.

Macau, now the only place in China where gambling is legal, is home to more than 30 casinos. Among them is the world's largest – the Venetian Macau – which attracted an estimated 120,000 visitors a day in December 2013, according to The Guardian.

Gaming revenue amounted to $45bn last year, seven times more than in Las Vegas, and World Bank data show that unemployment has dropped to an enviable 1.7 per cent.

The Guardian says that growth is likely to continue as government officials and casino bosses attempt to "diversify the region into a more family-friendly-destination".

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