Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Celotehan si Cindy Adams

Following our stock-market burp, we heard how Hongkong's Hang Seng reacted, Japans Nikkei reacted- We heard its effect in markets from Frankfurt tu Mumbai. Speaking about our global economy, let me tell you about gambling.

China -- which practically owns our paper, our finance, our debt, our businesses, our manufacturing -- also owns all our money. Where's this planet's biggest gamming (the new politically correct word) operation ? Macao. A 20-minute helicopter ride from Hong Kong or a slightly longer hydrofoil schlep through the South China Sea, this former portuguese colony was a rathole 20 years ago with a junky casino owned by a man named Stanley Ho. I met him. I was there. I know.

Fast-forward. It's now 28 multimillion-buck five-star hotels like the Phoenician, Wynn's Macao, with all the bells and whistles - butlers, famous chef restaurants, shops such as Channel, Dior, Vuitton. Five new properties in 14 months. By 2010, visitors will number 35 million per year. Koreans, Indians, Indonesians, Thais, Singaporeans, Cambodians, Laotians, 1.4 billion people within 3 1/2 hours flying time, and it's gambling culture. Baccarat, not craps, the main game. They are very focussed. Unlike America, Asia has no gambling stigma. Not so much skill as karma, luck and personal superstitions. They bet millions. Last year's revenues - in US bucks - $10.5 bil.

They don't do Vegas. Reason ? Air planes don't allow smoking. To import these "whales", or high rollers, on the docket now is a charter that lets them smoke - and gamble - all the way over. Jurisdiction over the skies is being worked out via video camera that starts at takeoff, so all bets, losses and wins are tallied over recorded airspace.

And let it be known, whoever steers these high roller gets a piece of the action. And let it be known, if a favored player loses big, like millions big, there's a give back. No body saying how much. Take a shot at 5 percent.

Steve Wynn is learning to speak Chinese. The Phoenician's Sheldon Adelson is building additional hotels. MGM is putting up condos. So, these chinese, who were previously poor communists, where they geting all this bread ? Either they must have really large piggy banks, or some of these piggies know something about the drug culture.
These guys who run the operation let no green grow under their feet. They're now organizing portable slots. Take them with you to the can, to bed, to the pool, to who cares. Gamble online.
And you're worrying about your mortgage ?

So this major stockbroker tells his client "Buy Citigroup". She hangs up, switches on a financial channel, and hears some talking head burble : "And if your broker tells you, 'Buy Citigroup', get a new broker." She calls her broker, who had been listening to the same channel. Grabbing the phone all he says is : "Turn off your TV."

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

**) Cindy Adams aktif menulis di New York Post, tinggal di NYC.

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