Macau’s Dark Side
Las Vegas is no more the gambling capital of the world. That privilege now belongs to Macau. The city is laden with casinos and casino resorts and is highly sought-after by gamers from all around the world.
Macau is an island city that belongs to the People’s Republic of China. The island was a Portuguese colony for a great number of years. It was only in 1999 that it formally became a part of China. The advantage Macau enjoys over the other provinces of China is autonomy. Even though coming under the Chinese government, Macau’s governance is maintained as it was before. Macau even has its own currency. The autonomy of Macau has allowed it to accommodate the casinos within its boundaries. Though gambling existed in Macau from many years, the area became open for outside gaming companies only in 2002. Then came the reign of MGM, Wynn, and the Sands in Macau. There was no turning back since then and Macau’s revenue soon surpassed that of Las Vegas.
The revenues and the jobs notwithstanding, there is a dark side to the gaming capital. The downside is that most of its revenue comes from the gambling industry. Therefore, any dip in the industry would affect the revenue of Macau and its economic position greatly. Macau’s government is now trying to diversify into other areas of business and therefore balances out it’s overdependence on the gambling industry.
Another drawback is the industry’s dependence on the high rollers. Many gamers that frequent Macau are government officials and businessmen who spend huge amounts at the tables. They spend big and lose big, bringing in revenue for the casinos, but somewhat bringing a disequilibrium in the economy. There are also accusations of many of the high rollers being connected to the Chinese underworld. Finally, the dark side of Macau turning out to be the gambling capital of the world is the message it is sending to its youth. Macau’s minimum age for working in a casino is only 18. The young adults are still very vulnerable at that age and could be mislead by the glitz and the glamour. The government has now started to realize this social stigma and is planning to raise the minimum working age to 21 instead of 18. This, says the government, would encourage the youth to study more before they take up a job.
There are many people in Macau taking advantage of the glitzy picture the casino jobs paint in the outer world. Many advertisements for jobs are not genuine and young people get drawn into it only to be misused and misguided. All this can be avoided to a greater extent by increasing the minimum working age.
For an onlooker, Macau is like a magical land where glamour and money rule. The darker side of the gambling business and the impact it has on society as such is lost of most people. The realization of the problem is a big step for the government. Yet, Macau will continue to remain the gambling king of the 21st century.