The Developmental State, Casino Capitalism and Crime in Macao


  • Sonny Shiu-Hing Lo Hong Kong Institute of Education


The interrelationships between the Macao developmental state, casino capitalism and casino crime are complex. In order to control organized crime penetration into casinos, the Macao developmental state in 2002 liberalized and internationalized the casino sector. Since 2002, however, various types of crimes have emerged inside and outside Macao’s casinos. While casino capitalism has generated huge public revenues for the government, created employment opportunities for citizens, and stimulated local economic growth, it has also delegitimized the developmental state to some extent by producing various criminal activities, by bringing about addictive gambling, by providing more opportunities for mainland Chinese citizens and officials to gamble heavily, and by plunging Macao into an over-dependency on casinos-driven development. In response, the central government in Beijing and the Macao developmental state have jointly tackled the negative and unintended consequences of casino capitalism in a proactive and preemptive manner. Beijing tightened its control over mainlanders’ visits to Macao in mid-2008, but it quickly relaxed the policy in fear of a decline in casino revenues and capitalism in the Special Administrative Region. On the other hand, the Macao developmental state has taken social measures to address the income gap between the rich and the poor, experimented with economic diversification in an attempt to reduce its dependency on casino capitalism, and implemented the emphasis on “responsible gaming” to tackle any detrimental impacts of casino capitalism on the society. In brief, the developmental state in Macao utilizes casino capitalism to accelerate the development of its productive forces, but the negative impacts of casino capitalism have propelled the developmental state to be more regulatory and socially interventionist for the sake of maintaining its legitimacy. The interrelationships between casino capitalism and the Macao developmental state are clearly both dynamic and responsive.