And So It Begins... Again, But Differently
And so it begins...
With those four words, we inaugurated this blog, and in turn a trip to the other side of the world where we not only found some of the most beautiful casinos ever built, but a completely new version of a recently evolved cultural experience - casino tourism.
It might be a little early to post this, but I guess since we're amongst friends I can let the bag out of the cat. Err. Right. But first, some background...
When I was doing my initial research six months before launching MacauTripping (which debuted in October 2007), I was baffled at how little information about Macau was available online. There were no definitive lists of casinos, few maps (most of them inaccurate) barely any photos of the smaller joints and basically zero information about anything related to the Macau gambling business before they opened up the industry to outside operators.
There are, however, about 20 or so Macau/Cotai casino blogs and websites out there that do a great job aggregating the day to day news from sources throughout the world. More are popping up online daily. Never before have the twists and turns of the Macau casino industry been documented so thoroughly with such dedication.
What has always been lacking in this hyper documentation is larger perspective on Macau tourism, y'know the basic stuff like maps, addresses, photos, tourist tips, history and reviews. It's obvious why this stuff doesn't get covered, most folks can't/won't spend the time and cashish to go there. This isn't an indictment, this is a fact : the return on investment for a publisher covering Macau is essentially nickels on a hundred dollars of expenses.
I'd like to believe that MacauTripping offers an immersive Macau education. We don't have the locational luxury of being weekly, monthly or annual visitors to Macau, so there are obvious holes in the content. But we've managed - in a single, huge visit - to cobble together quite a massive amount of information and make a number of deeply rooted contacts to continue providing the details on current and future developments. In a perfect world, we'd generate enough income to visit regularly and/or hire roving reporters to file reviews and visit information. Eventually this will become a reality.
With this seeming information hole in Macau's gambling-related tourism (the prime reason why most people visit Macau) we've decided, after numerous discussions with family and friends, that we're going to take a stab at writing The Book on Macau.
The idea of The Book is in its earliest stages of gestation, but my excitement at tackling this huge and challenging project is barely containable. As with the fundamental premise of this blog - where readers were invited to follow along as we went on a discovery trip to a previously unknown city with casinos, Macau - the process of how The Book will (or won't) come into being will be transparently documented within these pages along the way.
Again, we're starting with nothing but an idea. We have no book deal, literary agent or contacts in the publishing industry. I've never written a book before, but I truly doubt its more difficult than writing/building 5+ gambling travel destination websites, or, y'know, a thesis.
Thanks to hearty encouragement and guidance from our dear friend Dr. David Schwartz - Director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV and author of the phenomenal Die Is Cast blog, as well as the essential Roll The Bones : The History of Gambling - I'm about to commence on the first steps of research into creating the first book on gambling related tourism to Macau. I plan to include (hopefully) a detailed history of Macau's gambling evolution from pre-STDM era, the Ho dynasty, the encroachment of western casino corporations through interviews with its biggest players as well as a smorgasborg of historical and tourism-centric information and photos that haven't been published anywhere before.
Frankly, I'm exhilarated and terrified by this undertaking. I foresee long hours in the library and late night conference calls with casino industry insiders in Macau/Hong Kong as well as a meeting or three with the Vegas titans who've taken the former Portuguese island by storm. I have no idea if any of this will work out as the pitfalls of the publishing process are many. Either I'll tap out from the strain and pressure, be stonewalled by tight lipped casino magnates, left holding the ball by disinterested publishers, or - Gawd forbid - find out that the backstory behind Macau's gambling fancy in and of itself isn't that interesting after all.
Similarly to every turn of a card, spin of the wheel or thump of the Sic Bo dice shaker, predicting the outcome is never possible. Yet we - the gambling tourists all over the world - continue to flock to every outpost set up in the vast Felt Jungle to place our bets.
And so it begins... (again) indeed.