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Sheldon Adelson’s Macao Casino Threatened by Chinese Corruption Probe, Labor Trouble

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The Chinese government is conducting a corruption investigation of former Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang, who used to be a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee. The investigation signals a new crackdown on corruption that will likely impact Macau’s gaming industry, the Macau Business Daily reports.

Sands Macao is a casino resort located in Macau Peninsula, Macau, China. It is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. It comprises a 229, 000 square feet casino, and a 289-suite hotel. Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson has said that his company will soon be a mainly Chinese enterprise, and suggested that Las Vegas should be called “America’s Macau.”

John L. Smith, writing for Las Vegas Review-Journal, reported that Macau has offered itself as the playground for corrupt Chinese business owners and government officials. The crackdown, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, signals trouble for Macau’s big operators, who already have an image problem because of their alleged connections to Chinese Triad organized crime families.

In addition, Adelson’s Macao outfit, Sands Macau, is facing a labor crisis. Two weeks ago, Macau Business Daily reported, some 2, 000 gaming workers from Sands China went on a protest march, claiming that most of their demands were not yet met, which led some 700 of them to attend another assembly yesterday in the plaza of Macau Cultural Centre, close to Sands Macau, to continue their fight for better remuneration and promotion systems—specifically a 10 percent increase in salaries.

“Holding the assembly today is because the corporation had not responded to most of the workers’ demands, ” said the organizer, Ieong Man Teng, who is the president of local gaming union Forefront of Macau Gaming. “Only a very small proportion of our demands were met.”

Adelson has fought hard for several years to prevent Union organizing on his property. “With casino employees taking to the streets, it doesn’t take much speculation to predict trouble ahead, ” Smith suggests.

Macau continues to be a success story in for casino magnates Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, notes Smith, who believes that if their companies “make it through the probe without suffering mortal wounds, Macau’s casino operators could emerge even stronger than before.”

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