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Gambling on the Future: Casino Enclaves, Development, and Poverty Alleviation in Laos

December 1, 2017

I have a new journal article out this month. Hurrah! 


You can find it here:



The article is titled 'Gambling on the Future: Casino Enclaves, Development, and Poverty Alleviation in Laos'. It is published in UBC's Journal Pacific Affairs and is the first paper in a Special Issue edited by the wonderful Juan Zhang.


Other articles in the Special Issue include:


 Juan Zhang, The State of Fun? Exclusive Casino Urbanism and Its Biopolitical Borders in Singapore


Vicente Chua Reyes, Jr. PAGCOR and the Entertainment City: Complex Networks and Gaming Development in the Philippines




Teri Shaffer Yamada Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld Resort and Casino


The abstract for my article can be seen below.


Gambling on the Future: Casino Enclaves, Development, and Poverty Alleviation in Laos


Kearrin Sims


Following the extraordinary wealth generation of casinos in Macau and Singapore, governments and non-state actors across Southeast Asia have developed gambling establishments as a means of fast-tracking economic growth and stimulating national development. Yet, here and elsewhere, casinos have been heavily criticized for their association with immoral behaviour, problem gambling, corruption, and organized crime. In this article, I focus on two casinos in northern Laos to address two research questions. First, I consider how casinos have come to exist within the remote border regions of one of Asia’s least developed countries. I discuss

vice economies within the Golden Triangle region, multi-actor aspirations to boost transnational connectivity within continental Southeast Asia, strengthening political-economic relationships between Laos and China,

and Government of Laos efforts to use foreign investment as a mechanism for increasing governance capacities in borderlands. Following this, I critically analyze the relationship between casinos and development in Laos. I focus specifically on the multifarious effects of casinos on the lives and livelihoods of local communities to argue that casino development has been informed by logics of expulsion and the establishment of new predatory formations. To make this argument, the article draws on four fieldwork visits to each of the casino sites between 2011 and 2015, desk-based research, and interviews with local residents, casino staff, and members of the Government of Laos.





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