NOT far from China’s coast, Macau’s casinos buzz with the energy and abandon of the wildly wealthy. Marble columns, gold decor and money are everywhere. But behind the glittering facades there are signs of something darker.
Macau’s success is not built purely on the Chinese love of gambling. It is also fuelled by a stampede of nervous money fleeing the mainland. A look behind the scenes at Macau reveals a lot about Chinese corruption, and also about how scared many Chinese businessfolk are about the political climate back home.
Since 2004 when American casino operators first opened there, Macau has grown faster than a dealer sorts chips. Gaming revenues in the first 11 months of the year were 44% higher than in 2010; Macau is now four times bigger than Las Vegas. The former Portuguese colony, a “special administrative region” of China since 1999, is now the world’s gambling capital.
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