Hong Kong gets more attention, but Macau is turning into a flashy high-roller heaven.
Long a bastion for gambling-deprived fun seekers from the mainland, the island is going big time with the launch of a few notable casinos. The most recent addition will certainly get the most attention: Playboy.
Macau has always been an oddity as a Chinese entity. Much as Hong Kong was long a British colony, so too was Macau a Portuguese holding. It evolved quite differently than its neighbors. As mainland China went through periods of revolution, turbulence, and finally economic explosion, Macau cemented its status as the bad boy in the neighborhood, attracting gamblers from around the world.
Recently Vegas has started to take notice and Las Vegas Sands is set to open an obscenely large casino to tap into the new market. Not to be outdone, Playboy will open their own offering in 2009. It might strike people as odd that Playboy would be allowed to operate in relatively conservative China. When Hugh Hefner’s empire that he built without the hindrance of traditional ideas of modesty first attempted to enter China they were (eventually) rebuffed.
Last year there was a bit of a problem for the soft-porn giant as China got cold feet about allowing the opening of a club that shared its name with a banned magazine. Apparently Shanghai wasn’t ready for women in bunny tail outfits.
Yet in Macau the authorities are willing to look the other way since it doesn’t share the mainland’s pristine reputation. Aside from morality, the new casino will be part of a two billion dollar complex, and even Beijing can’t ignore that kind of money. On the contrary, they seem quite happy to have the investment just out of eye-sight. After all, what happens in Macau, stays the hell out of the mainland.
All I can say is Macau’s tenth-anniversary of its return to the mainland (in 2009) is going to be a heck of a party!