By Erik Crouch
Macau Lights via Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Casino_Lights_In_Macau.jpg
When Wan Kuok-koi, known as ‘Broken Tooth’ was imprisoned nearly 15 years ago, he was head of the 14K Triad crime gang in still-Portugese Macau. He was arrested during the peak of a gang war in the late 1990’s, and convicted on charges of loan sharking, money laundering, and of leading a crime gang. Macau of the late 1990’s was a land of widespread gangland violence, with Broken Tooth’s 14K triad having as many as 10,000 members.
In 2012, Macau has changed greatly from its gangster past. The ownership of casinos has been monopolized by six massive firms, all of which are earning far too much money legally to be tempted by the gangland business of the past: Macau now pulls in 33.5 billion dollars a year, more than five times the revenue of the Las Vegas Strip. Macau is the only site in China where gambling is legal, and its tremendous growth over the past decade has fundamentally changed how the semi-autonomous territory operates. Macau has stated that it is unworried by his return, and that the success of the casinos have made it so “no one would fight and kill if they can earn money.”