I remember my first trip to Las Vegas very well. My girlfriend at the time and I decided for a last-minute weekend getaway to Las Vegas. We opted for a Thursday to Sunday trip.
Landing at the airport and seeing all the themed hotels was beyond believable. I pulled out my printout from the Bellagio (this is before smartphones and apps like TripIt that keep track of everything) and triple-checked our hotel check-in time. It was set for 4pm, perfect timing since it was 3:30 and would be about 4:15 by the time we got our bags, hopped in a taxi, and headed through the doors.
My girlfriend wasn’t much of a gambler. She preferred to spend her cash at the spa and on show tickets. But she respected my love of Blackjack so she agreed that the first thing we’d do after checking in was hit the tables, even if it was for only 15 minutes.
So, we checked in, dropped our stuff off in the room, checked out the view of the Bellagio fountains from our room, and headed downstairs to the casino floor.
My excitement turned to fear the second I saw the $50 table minimums. This was a Thursday at 4pm and there were no $10 or even $25 minimums to be found. Heartbreaking, to be honest, given the fact that my gambling budget was about $500 for the four days.
We went back to the room. My girlfriend sensed my sadness and made it up to me. I won’t go over the details because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But soon after, we decided to go grab a bite to eat and search for lower table minimums. The good news is we found lots of tables. $5 tables at O’Sheas. $10 tables at Treasure Island. Aladdin (now Planet Hollywood) even had $10 tables, so it turned out to be a good trip.
I’ve been to Las Vegas, but chances are I’ll never go to Macau. Table minimums there are ridiculously high. While you might be able to find a table minimum in the range of $300 Hong Kong dollars (about $40 US), things are swinging up, with many of the high end hotels only offering a few low stakes tables in favor of higher stakes tables.
On the main floors of the big casinos, minimums can rise as high as $3,000 Hong Kong dollars. That’s about $340 US – a far cry from the $50 US minimum I witnessed at Bellagio, which I thought was way too high for a non-high roller room.
According to casino management, the table minimums aren’t ridiculous. They’re simply following trends. People who sit down to play at a $100 minimum table tend do bet about $200 to $300 per hand. That’s somewhat true. At the $10 minimum table, I’d bet about $25 to $30 per hand when I was winning. But it’s nice to be in full control of your minimum.
As casino gambling expands in Asia, Macau might have to make some adjustments if they want to compete for lower stakes players. Of course, maybe Macau doesn’t want to be the Las Vegas of the East. Maybe they’re going for something a little more like Monaco.