From urban waterfronts to Indian Reservations, from exburbs to border settings, casino development has become an increasingly prevalent mode of urbanization in many parts of the world. What is at stake in these large scale developments? How do they shape the urban environment and what are the social and political consequences? Who are the agents and what are their key motivations? Indeed, casino-hotels are no longer just playgrounds for families and gambling enthusiasts. On their backs are pinned all kinds of hopes and ambitions, from renewing cities to increasing tax revenue to capturing fugitive capital to safeguarding sovereignty. “Casino urbanism” can be seen as a global condition where, to adapt a famous phrase, all that is solid melts into credits.
My posts are related generally to casino development, urban politics, architectural symbolism and the material culture of gambling. Sometimes, I will include thoughts and research on the social, cultural and economic histories of gambling. Finding echoes of the past in the present is always fascinating – so many of the peculiarities that we find today in the casinos of Asia can only be understood from a historical perspective. While my explorations are geographically focused on Asia, I also look askew, at times, to places like Las Vegas and Australia. Tracing and understanding these global connections are far more important and productive than artificially confining myself to Asia for no reason other than to shift the center of theory to match the center of the industry.
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Kah-Wee Lee, National University of Singapore