Betting on Macau

Casino Capitalism and China’s Consumer Revolution

2023
Author:

Tim Simpson

A comprehensive look into how Macau’s recent decades of gambling-related growth have produced one of the wealthiest territories on the planet

Examining the unprecedented scale of its development and its key role in China’s economic revolution, Simpson follows Macau’s emergence from historical obscurity to become the most profitable casino gaming locale in the world. In turn, his trenchant analysis provides a distinctive view into China’s broader project of urbanization, its post-Mao economic reforms, and the continued rise of its consumer culture.

Betting on Macau delves into the radical transformation of what was formerly the last remaining European territory in Asia, returned to the People’s Republic of China in 1999 after nearly half a millennium of Portuguese rule. Examining the unprecedented scale of its development and its key role in China’s economic revolution, Tim Simpson follows Macau’s emergence from historical obscurity to become the most profitable casino gaming locale in the world.

Identified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and renowned for its unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese colonial-era architecture, contemporary Macau has metamorphosed into a surreal, hypermodern urban landscape augmented by massive casino megaresorts, including two of the world’s largest buildings. Simpson situates Macau’s origins as a strategic trading port and its ensuing history alongside the emergence of the global capitalist system, charting the massive influx of foreign investment, construction, and tourism in the past two decades that have helped generate the territory’s enormous wealth.

Presented through a cross section of postcolonial studies and social theory with extensive insight into the global gambling industry, Betting on Macau uncovers the various roots of the territory’s lucrative casino capitalism. In turn, its trenchant analysis provides a distinctive view into China’s broader project of urbanization, its post-Mao economic reforms, and the continued rise of its consumer culture.

Tim Simpson is associate professor of communication at the University of Macau.

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