What is MOP
MOP is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) currency code (ISO 4217) for the Macanese pataca. The pataca was introduced in Portuguese Macau in 1894. Initially, this monetary unit corresponded to the Mexican peso, replacing the Portuguese real. The name pataca refers to the Portuguese practice of calling the Mexican peso “pataca Mexicana.”
The currency symbol for the pataca is MOP$, and the Macanese pataca is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at a fixed rate of one Hong Kong dollar to 1.03 Macanese patacas (MOP$1.03 = HK$1.00). In turn, the Hong Kong dollar is loosely pegged to the United States dollar, at an exchange rate of approximately eight patacas to one U.S. dollar (MOP$8 = USD$1).
Breaking Down MOP
MOP (alphabetic code ISO 4217) was published in 1978 by the ISO and is used globally in the foreign exchange market (FX or forex) as the standard currency for the Macanese pataca. The pataca is issued in both banknotes and coins; and because Portuguese is still widely used in the city, banknotes are printed in both Portuguese and Chinese. The Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) is the entity that issues and regulates this currency. Although the pataca is the legal tender of Macau, most of the money circulating in the region is actually Hong Kong dollars. While it is possible to exchange patacas in Macau, it is either very difficult or virtually impossible to do so anywhere else in the world.
Macao is an autonomous territory located on the Western side of the Pearl River Delta in East Asia, and Hong Kong lies about 64 kilometers (40 miles) east of Macao. Officially, Macao is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. Macau's deep ties with China explain the dependence on the Hong Kong dollar to back up the Macanese pataca as the smaller country's economy continues to grow.
Macao — Deep Roots in China, With a Foot in Las Vegas
Macau’s economy relies heavily on tourism and gaming. Visitors can change their currency at the airport, hotels, banks, and with the plentiful authorized dealers around the city. Gambling in Macau is an ancient pastime, and betting dates back to the 16th century when the Portuguese colony was established. Since around 2005, travel restrictions between Macau and China have been relaxed, and casino development has escalated quickly—factors that have significantly revitalized the country.
Today, the land-based gambling industry in Macau is huge and upscale. Macau not only brings in more gambling revenue than the entire United States, it is by far the largest gambling center in the world, with seven times the revenue of Las Vegas.1 Some casinos only accept the Hong Kong dollar, and others accept both. It is required (unofficially) for casinos to accept Macau patacas at (at least) some of its gaming tables. But those tables that do take both currencies have separate chips for each, and their colors differ slightly. To complicate matters further, all non-gambling purchases are in Macau patacas. If you use an ATM in Macau, it will ask whether you want your money in Hong Kong dollars or Macau patacas. So, if you don't want to fuss with two types of currency while in Macau, then stick with the Hong Kong dollar for everything.