Casinno concessionaires’ battle over infrastructure
The transportation system is utilized and constructed in the interest of the casino concessionaires to execute their geopolitical power. The battle of territorization over infrastructure started from the time when Stanley Ho tends to consolidate his dominance by resisting the sale of land to his competitors. other casino concessionaires which offer the same product, entered the market at the same time, and had no restrictions on where and how much to build their casinos carried out strategic moves to compete for attention and secure relative locational advantages for their casinos. Professor Lee identified five strategies the casino concessionaires used which remapped the city and illustrates spatial dynamics of hypercompetition as penetration, containment, interception, clustering, and circumvention.
[Fig.1] A schematic of the spatial dynamics of hypercompetition. Source:
In order to take over the dominance of Stanley Ho’s properties, Sheldon Adelson intended to build Sands Macau next to the ferry terminal that penetrates deep into the controlled territory of Stanley Ho’s casinos. It took the locational advantage as the casino that closest to the terminal and intercepted the stream of customers entering into Macau by providing free shuttles between the point of entry and the casino.
The route to Sands Macau is designated to filter away the view of any Stanley Ho’s casinos. Without transforming the physical city, Adelson was able to subvert the territorial control of Ho’s casinos by making use of existing infrastructure to its own benefit in cheap and effective way.
The success of Sands Macau triggered the resuscitation of the “Macau Fisherman’s Wharf” project, a large theme park along the Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen developed by Stanley Ho’s partner. The project extended the length of the Avenida and provide public amenities along the waterfront supplementing from the ferry terminal to Macau Science Center, while the real purpose of it is to obstruct the visual prominence of Sands Macau with fake volcanoes, Tibetan temples and Roman arches. At the same ferry terminal, Stanley Ho also converted the Yaohan supermarket into an instant casino to straddle the Avenida and directing the flow of capital into its halls. Adelson responded by building an underpass to facilitate pedestrians’ passage to Sands Macau. The battle over infrastructure only exacerbated the congestion and chaos at this road junction (Macau Daily News 2006).
[Fig.2] Casino development in Cotai and Taipa, 2010. Though the land was allocated, not all sites in Cotai were developed by 2010 (source of base map: Macao Special Administrative Region Government—Cartography and Cadastre Bureau)
The competition between the two major powerful casino concessionaires continue out of the Macau peninsula to Cotai followed by the desire of Adelson shift the center of gambling away from peninsula where Ho owned the dominance of land. The entire ecology of infrastructure, spectacle, and urban environment were designed by Adelson to create his own territory outside of the control of Stanley Ho. The second ferry terminal was constructed under this circumstance to bring customers from Hong Kong and China directly to Cotai and circumvent the peninsula. To further empower his territorial control, “Shizimen” project was kicked off. The project included the development of Hengqin Island which connect China directly via the Lotus Bridge to Cotai with area that provide into a 1300-acre hub for conventions, universities, nongaming hotels, and resorts.
Within the smaller scale of the city of Macau itself, urban infrastructure became the tool for powerful interest groups to consolidate their position within the territory. Cityscape is built up in the purpose of competing with other casino concessionaires which lost a united overall city planning.
1. Lee Kah Wee, “Transforming Macau: planning as institutionalized informality and the spatial dynamics of hypercompetition,” Environment and Planning A (2014):2622-2637
2. Stutz H, 2008, “The development of Cotai Strip helps complete a personal vision for 72-year old Sheldon Adelson” Las Vegas Review-Journal 28 May, page 5E
3. Tieben H, 2009, “Urban image construction on Macau in the first decade after the ‘handover’, 1999–2008” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 38(1) 49–72