MACAU — Macau offers a yes-but world of uncertainty for Las Vegas casino developers seeking to tap into the peninsula’s estimated $2 billion gambling market, according to a top U.S. scholar.
The place has a centuries-old reputation for lawlessness that has been long-reflected in links between organized crime and government officials.
Yet leaders of mainland China are attempting to purge it of the deadly triads that control prostitution, loan sharking, drug dealing and gambling tables at Macau’s six casinos – a Wild West dynamic found in much of the rest of the Asian nation.
“It’s very, very difficult. If you ask a Chinese today what is the No. 1 problem, they say it’s corruption,” University of Pennsylvania Professor Arthur Waldron said of the atmosphere that permeates Macau and neighboring mainland China, which administers the former Portuguese colony.
“Everything’s for sale. Money is king. There’s …