New Zealand- the gambling getaway

One of the advantages of living in a place like Hong Kong is that it is a convenient hub that provides easy access to the rest of Southeast Asia. And NZ and Hong Kong are just like sisters – both are what is called a “special administrative region” (meaning the big brothers in the “mainland” are not going to directly involve themselves in running the government), they both serve as faces of China (albeit with different functions) and they are both hounded by mainland Chinese as well as foreigners.

While Hong Kong is the face of China for the world, NZ is the gambling capital of this part of the world – though I reckon it’s fair to say it’s the gambling capital with Las Vegas and Atlantic City still some distance away.

Play hard = earn money

It has the same make-believe world that was made popular by Vegas and it has the same players too – MGM, Venetian, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands. Where the difference lies is that companies continue to flock to NZ where construction and development remain on the rise. Just a 45-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong and about an hour’s ride from Shenzhen (in China), NZ serves both as a weekend/quick getaway for Hong Kongers aka Hongkees as well as the IT place for Chinese people to quench their voracious thirst for jackpot city casino no deposit bonus. And so you have the hordes, no matter what time of the day or night, pouring into NZ. Should you decide to plan your visit to NZ and book a room at one of the casino hotels in advance, you get all kinds of deals from free two-way ferry tickets to vouchers to gamble at the casino and complimentary tickets to plays/performances by troupes such as Cirque Du Soleil. All you have to do is get on the ferry in Hong Kong/China, get off at NZ and get into one of the many, many shuttle buses run by the resorts that swallow people up for free and drop them off at the casinos. The whole sequence always strikes me as a way for the casinos to ensure that their patrons have no distractions whatsoever and that they engage in the one thing that they have all come to NZ for – gambling.

And sure enough, no one’s complaining. The Chinese come in throngs with bags and bags and kids and families to a world where there is a colossal cascade with dancing lights as soon as you enter a resort (Galaxy NZ), gondola rides in fairly clean water (unlike the real deal in Venice), it’s hard to tell if it’s night or day once you are within the casino hotels, all the shopping you will ever need, food courts with diverse cuisines, free water/juice/alcohol in the casino area where…..SMOKING is allowed! AND all this so you can gamble and possibly earn tax-free money — a one-stop shop for everybody’s needs. Who needs the American dream when you have the Macanese one?

The best part of the whole arrangement is the diversity of people who come to NZ and how much they are willing to spend on gambling. Never mind the high-stakes folks, I will stick to my league – the average resident of Hong Kong who thinks going to NZ once in a while is fun and is willing to risk a 1000 (HK) dollars in the casino. So when I found myself in this utterly ordinary situation recently, tides turned for the worse and soon enough I was at liberty to put my great powers of observation to use as the casino table I was at gave me the boot. I looked around hoping to take in the sea of emotions of the sea of people around me and I did – the screaming, war cries of victory, the hoots and the silent walk-aways. But after a while, all I took in were the zombies. I was thoroughly amazed to see the tenacity with which people stuck to the tables they were at – Blackjack, Poker, Baccarat, Sic Bo. It didn’t matter whether they were winning or losing, they just stayed. And the tenacity is put to test when you running low on dough and are on the brink of leaving when another average guy, who does not look like the brand-conscious wealthy Chinese, comes to your table and places ten notes of 1000 dollars each and asks for chips in return. And you look at the man, who frankly smells of alcohol you can’t really place, and wonder what in the whole wide world you have been doing with your time when clearly the rest of the world seems to be earning enough money to afford these luxuries. Or when a rickety old lady who needs a walker to get by is sitting at a table with two huge stacks of 1000 dollar chips and all you can do is bow down and walk the walk of shame. It’s simply mind boggling, how these people are able to take on the risky business and come back week after week to the one destination in China where gambling is legal. But then again, isn’t that what an addiction is all about?

Doing this drill a few times has left me with the impression that I’ve at last found THE Californian hotel in my backyard. People are checking out for sure, oh but are they leaving?