January 11, 2008

Oriental Vegas

In 1925 there was a huge explosion and fire in Macau's main fireworks factory. Afterwards, the local officials decided to relocate future fireworks facilities to the south on the less-populated isle of Taipa. Until then, shipbuilding and fireworks were the main industries in Macau but that was before gambling entered the provincial Portuguese colony.

Currently there are thirty casinos in Macau, including Steve Wynn's new monster and the MGM Grand, with twenty more planned. In a country that was returned to the People's Republic of China in 1999, capitalism rules supreme with gambling as its chambermaid. Mao would undoubtedly be stunned at the lavish spectacle that is present-day Macau, second only to Las Vegas in gambling revenue, that circulates $5 billion in capital yearly.

[Look for a longer post on contemporary Asian art when I return to the USA.]

Image: Bank of China (on left) and Stanley Ho's new Grand Lisboa towering over the older Lisboa Casino.

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