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Kill Inveterate Gambler Ping: Macau and "The God of Gamblers"
April 6, 2012 4:10 PM   Subscribe

The files of the God of Gamblers case can be read as a string of accidents, good and bad: Siu’s run at the baccarat table; Wong’s luck to be assigned an assassin with a conscience; Adelson’s misfortune that reporters noticed an obscure murder plot involving his casino. But the tale, viewed another way, depends as little on luck as a casino does. It is, rather, about the fierce collision of self-interests. If Las Vegas is a burlesque of America—the “ethos of our time run amok,” as Hal Rothman, the historian, put it—then Macau is a caricature of China’s boom, its opportunities and rackets, its erratic sorting of winners and losers.
Evan Osnos on a real-life "God of Gamblers" and the rise of Macau, The New Yorker
posted by jng (13 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
In the crowd, a young woman handed out a Chinese advertisement for “USA Direct,” which offers a toll-free number for Mandarin speakers to buy American real estate at cut-rate prices.
There's a lot of fascinating stuff going on in that one sentence.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fascinating article all around.
posted by epersonae at 5:03 PM on April 6, 2012


compare and contrast.

They talked about some of the problems Vegas faced in the article. I think a big problem for "Sin City" is the legalization of gambling around the country. A long time ago, people had to go to Vegas if they wanted to gamble. Today, there will probably be a pretty decent casino just a few hundred miles from them. (When I was driving up I35 once I came across a combination gas station / slot machine casino).

The casinos around the country might not be as epic as the ones in Vegas, but why does that matter? People just want to gamble, right? So with the economic downturn people probably decided to hit closer casinos instead.

So Macau face similar 'regulatory' risk. When the boom times stop in mainland China, administrators might look at Macau raking it in and decide they want a piece of the action, and if they get it Macau would be somewhat screwed.

Geographically, though they are right by hongkong/shenzen (about 30/40 miles) so it's kind of like if Las Vegas were in New Jersey or something, they'll always be really close to rich people.
posted by delmoi at 5:52 PM on April 6, 2012


so it's kind of like if Las Vegas were in New Jersey or something

It would be on the Atlantic coast, so they could call it "Atlantic City" or something.
posted by hattifattener at 6:44 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of the reasons I loved playing Hold 'Em in Macau was that, thanks to the Baccarat/ Sic Bo mentality, there was an endless supply of straight-chasing fishes at the low-stakes tables. Particularly at the Grand Lisboa on the weekends -- keeping it super tight meant very easy money.

There are a few things in this world that can make you feel a little like James Bond. One of them is getting on the hydrofoil to Macau to play some poker.

It's a strange and wonderful and kind of infuriating place, Macau, there's something ghostly about it that I can't quite articulate, something in the steamy post-colonial atmosphere that rankles. You get this feeling that in 20 years it's going to be a gross burlesque of itself. Or maybe that the casinos will all be connected by sky-high habitrails, and the dilapidated avenues will be left to molder in the industrial miasma seeping down from the north. I don't know, maybe it's just the melancholy of gambling towns.

In the meantime, the museum is great and the pork jerky is crazy good and there's fine poker at the Waldo and it costs 50 bucks round trip to get there from HK in a jet-powered catamaran, so what's not to love?
posted by milquetoast at 6:46 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


awesome article
posted by facetious at 7:48 PM on April 6, 2012


In the meantime, the museum is great and the pork jerky is crazy good and there's fine poker at the Waldo and it costs 50 bucks round trip to get there from HK in a jet-powered catamaran, so what's not to love?

Oh man, Macau had its charms, but I usually find casinos to be monuments to human desperation and despair, and Macau had that in spades. From the green military trucks full of illegal Chinese nationals heading back across the border every day, the swarms of prostitutes on casino floors and clustered at every street corner, the shabby tenements visible from the fort that show the human fuel this demented engine runs on, the large number of CCP bureacrats gambling with embezzled or public money.

I grant you, the portuguese tarts are terrific, the inner city has a kind of east-meets-west charm, and the museums and especially the gallery of contemporary art are excellent, but still. City as we know it is built on enabling addicts, no thanks.
posted by smoke at 7:58 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


There was only one paragraph on Stanley Ho, a fascinating character who really deserves his own New Yorker article. Stories about his family is a staple of Hong Kong tabloids. I recall reading an article about what new real estate holdings Ho's number four wife newly acquired. (You can learn a lot of business news from Hong Kong tabloids.)
posted by of strange foe at 8:35 PM on April 6, 2012


Though neither film is well thought of, I'm a big fan of Casino Tycoon I and II, the Wong Jing biopics that star Andy Lau as Stanley Ho.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:36 AM on April 7, 2012


Wow. Great article. Someone needs to forward this to William Gibson; there's all sorts of stuff in there (as delmoi pointed out) that would benefit deeper analysis.
posted by barnacles at 3:56 AM on April 7, 2012


Give me a couple of Portuguese egg tarts and I'm already a winner.
posted by arcticseal at 4:44 AM on April 7, 2012


"Around his home village, Fuk Hing, which means Celebrating Fortune, . . ."

Indeed.
posted by stonepharisee at 5:28 AM on April 7, 2012


I usually find casinos to be monuments to human desperation and despair

They are actually monuments to Burrhus Frederic Skinner.
posted by srboisvert at 6:15 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


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