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A sharp decrease in visitor numbers during the pandemic coupled with a tightening of gaming laws means Macao is having to rebrand its identity as the world's casino hub.   © Illustration by Eric Chow
The Big Story

Macao bets on a new future as China cracks down on gambling

Pressure from Beijing and pandemic travel rules are forcing the gamer's paradise to diversify

PAK YIU, Nikkei staff writer | China

HONG KONG -- Glitzy gaming resorts that line the Cotai Strip in Macao were once bustling with tourists and high rollers looking for a seat at the table. However, coronavirus restrictions for the past two years have all but stopped visitors from coming into the city, leaving the strip -- and the rest of Macao -- eerily quiet. Despite the lull, gaming companies have not been sitting still.

A $2.2 billion makeover of the dated Sands Cotai Central has resulted in a replica of London's Big Ben tower and Houses of Parliament, expanded retail options and celebrity chef restaurants.

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