Lecture ties regional norms with business relations

Professor Malcolm Greenlees presents his lecture, “Culture, Countries and Casinos,” about the connections between the gambling business and regional and cultural norms Feb. 29 in Jonasson Hall. Nick Kintop/Staff writer

When it comes to casinos and gambling, cultural and social customs are usually the last things that come to mind.

In his Feb. 29 lecture “Culture, Countries and Casinos,” Professor Malcolm Greenlees showed that there is a close relationship between how business is conducted in relation to the regional and cultural norms.

Understanding this relation is of the utmost importance when addressing this topic, especially from a business standpoint.

”Generally, cultural traits drive business practices and how business is conducted…some kinds of cultural faux pas may impede negotiation and prevent success,” said Shaik Ismail, director of International Programs, on the essential understanding of the relationship between gambling, business and culture.

Greenlees corroborated this through an extensive slideshow and a thorough lecture that showed when it comes to Southeast Asian countries such as Macao and Singapore, culture plays not only a role in how casinos and gambling operate, but also how gambling is perceived by the local population.

The differences between casinos in the United States compared to countries such as Macao and Singapore are pronounced in a variety of ways.

Greenlees explained that in contrast to the common use of slot machines in American casinos, the main attraction of gambling in these Asian cultures revolves around table games.

Some favorites are card games, such as Mahjong and Baccarat.

Income from Macao casinos comes predominately from this type of gambling, with 80 percent of revenue generated from table-game gambling and 20 percent from other forms, including slots.

The opposite is true in America, where the vast majority of profits are garnered from slot machines.

The reason for this pronounced difference is based not on casino organization, but rather on local custom and societal norms.

In Buddhism, one of the most encompassing faiths in the region, self-determination and success through hard work are core tenants.

Gamblers in Asia prefer table games over slots because in their view, gambling is not a matter of mere luck, but also to an extent, a skill that can be learned and cultivated.

“They would gamble their whole paychecks,” said Professor Greenlees on the outlook of Asian gamblers toward table-gaming. “They can control it, it’s a cumulative effect of many small decisions.”

Macao has expanded its gambling industry by a phenomenal amount in the last few years, bringing in construction contractors from countries abroad, such as China and Australia.

While Macao is technically territorially under the auspices of China, it retains its status as a largely autonomous free state.

This has proved an economic asset to the country in the extreme, with more than 200,000 people going back and forth across the border every day, both to and from China to either buy cheaper goods in Macao, such as wine, or to work in the booming gambling industry.

Employment opportunities in Macao are easy to come by, as with the massive increase in recent construction, there is a shortage of labor as the job market can’t keep up with the exploding gambling industry.

The economic autonomy of Macao is a key factor in the success of its casinos.

Gambling is taxed heavily by the government, which makes an astounding profit of more than $12 billion a year from it.

Singapore too has seized on government control of its gambling industry, providing incentives to foreign visitors such as discounts on casino entry and affording those that can pay a special VIP status.

Both countries have avidly embraced the international attraction to their casinos, which are not just strictly designed for gambling.

Many are not only casinos, but massive resorts with some having upwards of 1,000 rooms.

This has lead to Macao being the residence of the largest casino in the world, which is the Venetian Macao.

While a somewhat obscure topic, many who attended Greenlees’s lecture found it interesting.

“I didn’t think there was that big of a cultural impact to not get rich quick,” said freshman Gia Saporito.

Greenlees covered a wide variety of subjects during the lecture.

Economics, culture, religion and relative societal perspectives were all intertwined.

Applying this large amount of material into practical understanding is somewhat daunting, however, Greenlees gave a bit of advice.

“Keep your eyes and ears open and try to become more culturally oriented,” he said.

To successfully understand the rapidly expanding business of gambling in Maco, Singapore, and other Asian countries, it is crucial that one understands the intrinsic correlation between society and business, even the seemingly acultural business of casinos and gambling.

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Nick Kintop/
Staff writer
Nick Kintop can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

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