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Macau bets all on a diverse future

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Macau bets all on a diverse future

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The one-time Portuguese colony Macau is marking the 10th anniversary of its return to China, with ambitious plans to break free from its rollercoaster gambling past.

“Over the next five years, we will diversify Macau’s economy,” said Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui. “We will tighten the regulations of the gaming industry, but also expand the conference, exhibition, logistics and cultural industries.”

The audience at the colourful ceremony heard Chinese President Hu Jintao say he wants Macau to broaden its horizons, and work with other businesses in the Pearl River delta region to expand its economy. Until now, the tiny area has relied almost exclusively on gambling taxes for its income.

Like nearby British Hong Kong, Macau was a tiny capitalist enclave clinging to the southern coast of mighty China. The high-stakes atmosphere drew some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry to its shores. But Macau has been plagued by accusations of corruption, bribery and money laundering. It also faces stiff competition for gamblers’ money from new casinos in Singapore and Malaysia.