1999-2007: The rise of Macau as the Las Vegas of Asia
In 2001, the Macau University of Science and Technology established its main campus on Taipa island.
In 2002, the Macau government ended the gambling monopoly system and 3 (later 6) casino operating concessions (and subconcessions) were granted to Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM, an 80% owned subsidiary of STDM), Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Galaxy Entertainment Group, the partnership of MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho Chiu-king, and the partnership of Melco and PBL, thus marking the begin of the rise of Macau as the new gambling hub in Asia.
As one of the measures to develop the gambling industry, the Cotai strip was completed after the handover to China with construction of the hotel and casino industry starting in 2004. In 2007, the first of many resorts opened, The Venetian Macao. Many other resorts followed, both in Cotai and on Macau island, providing for a major tax income stream to Macau government and a drop in overall unemployment over the years down to a mere 2% in 2013.
In 2004, the Sai Van Bridge is completed, the third bridge between Macau island and Taipa island.
In 2005, the Macau East Asian Games Dome, the principal venue for the 4th East Asian Games, is inaugurated.
Also in 2005, Macau government started a wave of social housing construction (lasting until 2013 at least), constructing over 8000 apartment units in the process.
2007-2008: The Financial Crisis hits Macau
Similar to other economies in the world, the financial crisis of 2007–08 hit Macau leading to a stall in construction of major construction works (Sands Cotai Central) and a spike in unemployment.
2008-today: Expansion into Hengqin and further Casino boom
With residential and development space being sparse, Macau government officially announced on June 27, 2009 that the University of Macau will build its new campus on Hengqin island, in a stretch directly facing the Cotai area, south of the current border post. Along with this development, several other residential and business development projects on Hengqin are in the planning.
In 2011 to 2013 further major construction on several planned mega-resorts on the Cotai Strip commenced.