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Macau's Gambling Growths Worries Some

1 September 2004

MACAU – As reported by the Taipei Times: "On the western edge of Macau, along the slither of polluted water that separates it from China, restaurateur Effic Chen serves the handful of customers who still visit her San Hip Seng Seafood Restaurant.

"Business has dropped 'enormously,' said Chen, in the two years since the local casino, a dingy gambling den built into an old Chinese junk, moved to the other side of the peninsula to be closer to a glitzy new American casino.

"…The slump in Chen's tiny neighborhood of the largely autonomous enclave of China is symptomatic of a recent economic shift in Macau that saw casino growth boost GDP by 25 percent in the first quarter.

"…'We are relying too much on one industry and that reliance is only going to increase,' warned Sanjay Nadkarni, a researcher at Macau's Institute of Tourism Studies. 'We are creating a monoculture built around a business that is, essentially, non-productive.'

"…But away from the neon and green baize, analysts and politicians warn of dire economic and social consequences.

"…Although Ho's Beijing-backed government is planning a free trade zone at the city's border with China, observers say little is being done to counterbalance a possible casino crash…"

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