Gambling on the future: casino enclaves, development, and poverty alleviation in Laos

Sims, Kearrin (2017) Gambling on the future: casino enclaves, development, and poverty alleviation in Laos. Pacific Affairs, 90 (4). pp. 675-700.

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Following the extraordinary wealth generation of casinos in Macau and Singapore, governments and non-state actors across Southeast Asia have developed gambling establishments as a means to fast-track economic growth and stimulate national development. Yet, here and elsewhere, casinos have been heavily criticized for their association with immoral behaviour, problem gambling, corruption and organized crime. In this article I focus on two casinos in northern Laos to address two research questions. First, I consider how casinos have come to exist within the remote border regions of one of Asia’s least developed countries. Here, I discuss vice economies within the Golden Triangle region, multi-actor aspirations to boost transnational connectivity within continental Southeast Asia, strengthening political-economic relationships between Laos and China, and Government of Laos efforts to use foreign investment as a mechanism for increasing governance capacities in borderlands. Following this, I critically analyse how, in what ways, and for whom, casinos have brought development to Laos. Here, I focus specifically on the multifarious effects of casinos on the lives and livelihoods of local communities to argue that casino development has been informed by logics of expulsion and the establishment of new predatory formations. To make this argument, the article draws on four fieldwork visits to each of the casino sites between 2011 and 2015, desk-based research, and interviews with local residents, casino staff and members of the Government of Laos.

Item ID: 51569
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1715-3379
Keywords: casinos, Laos, Special Economic Zone, China, Greater Mekong Subregion, social justice
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2017 05:31
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4404 Development studies > 440499 Development studies not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9403 International Relations > 940302 International Aid and Development @ 100%
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