Casinos in Asia: The rise of the low-rollers

“THE Las Vegas of the Far East” is how Sheldon Adelson, an American gambling magnate and boss of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, has long described Macau. A decade ago, when Sin City was king and the tiny Chinese territory was still a backwater, such a claim would have been laughably implausible. Today, it is an insult to Macau. Its casinos’ turnover last year, of $38 billion, was more than six times the Las Vegas strip’s takings. With vast numbers of Chinese consumers now finding they have the money to indulge their passion for gambling, Macau’s baccarat tables are busier than ever.Though gambling has been legal for a century and a half in this former Portuguese territory, its casinos were typically small and seedy. Many moons ago our correspondent remarked to Stanley Ho, a tycoon who held a monopoly on gambling in Macau till 2002, on the large number of prostitutes in his casino. He replied dryly that he was shocked, shocked to hear of their presence.The times are changing, and Macau is starting to clean up its act. The arrival in force of American casino operators, who must answer for their behaviour overseas to regulators back home, helps. The…

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