Empty VIP Tables in Macau Means Trouble for $44 Billion Industry

In the heart of Macau stands a 56-story tower with soaring gold-trimmed arches. On the second floor of the L’Arc Macau, there’s a sight that would have been unimaginable a year ago: An abandoned room for high-end gamblers, Bloomberg News reported. There are no tables, no dealers and no players. Carpets have been rolled up, leaving a trash-covered concrete floor. A sign on the VIP room reads “Heng Sheng Group,” one of Macau’s top junket operators, which shuttle Chinese high-rollers to exclusive gaming venues and finance their bets. The dimming fortunes of Heng Sheng, whose name in Chinese translates to “everlasting rise,” reflects those of an industry that had soared since it was opened to foreign operators in 2002. The former Portuguese colony, which grew to become seven times the size of Las Vegas Strip, has started to lose business to a government corruption crackdown that is forcing casinos, hotels, junket operators and local officials to overhaul how they operate. Read more.