Taking other people's money: development and the political economy of Asian casinos


  • William Vlcek University of St Andrews


The transfer of Macau from Portuguese to Chinese governance elicited a change in the territory? Approach to its casinos and casino gambling. By opening up to foreign direct investment, the territory transformed a dowdy old-style casino into a Vegas-style glitzy casino complex that in turn attracted Mainland gamblers in ever increasing numbers.  This situation represents the first instance for accumulation by dispossession via the casino, for gambling is illegal in Mainland China and the success of the Macau casinos transferred wealth from the Mainland to Macau and the foreign investors in its casinos. The second instance is shaped by the identification for the success of Macau? Casinos as a model for economic development, and the migration of this strategy for using casinos as a form of economic development to Singapore, where it again operates as accumulation by dispossession. For the latter case the gambling laws explicitly shape the institution to appropriate other people? Money because the Singapore citizen is charged a levy to access its casinos.  This strategy for accumulation by dispossession operates through the inside/outside dichotomy of sovereignty with its focus on appropriating the money of the non-citizen, while it relies on the foreign investment capital provided by a multinational casino company. The efficacy for the use of casinos as economic development is interrogated in this paper as it represents a crucial question when post-financial crisis governments propose the reproduction of this? Economic development through gambling? Strategy in the European Union and United States as a local path towards economic recovery.