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How The World's Gambling Mecca Shares The Wealth With Locals

MACAU DAILY TIMES (Macau), CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (Taiwan)

Worldcrunch

MACAU – Not far from Hong Kong, a small island off the coast of southern China attracts 28 million visitors a year. The tourists, hailing mostly from Mainland China, come here to gamble. It is the only place in China where gambling is legal, and with its three dozen casinos, it is also the world’s betting capital.

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Macau. Photo ASDFGHJ

Every year, Macau’s government offers the island’s residents a share in the gambling revenue – by way of a cash handout, says to the Macau Daily Times.

This year, the Chief Executive of Macau, Fernando Chui Sai On, has once again announced that each resident would be receiving a cash handout of 8,000 Macau Pataca ($1,000). Non-permanent residents will receive 4800 Macau Pataca ($600). Macau has a resident population of about 500,000 people.

For residents, an additional 6000 Macau Pataca ($750) will be deposited in each person’s retirement fund. They will also receive medical vouchers of 600 Macau Pataca ($75) and income tax will be reduced by as much as 30%,

A former Portugal colony, Macau’s economy has always relied on gambling tourism. But with the support of the Chinese government, the long-established gaming industry monopolies were broken thanks to liberalization after Macau was transferred back to China in 1999. The introduction of foreign casino operators has contributed to the large increase in the government’s gambling revenue.

Prior to the transfer of sovereignty, Macau’s annual gambling revenue was only 17.7 billion Macau Pataca ($200 million), whereas the revenue generated by the gambling industry now ranks number one in the world with 269.1 billion Macau Pataca ($33.7 billion) in 2011, more than five times the amount on the Las Vegas strip.

According to Central News Agency, between January and April this year, the gambling industry’s revenue as well as the government’s gambling tax revenue increased by 25.5% and 26.3% respectively in comparison with the same period last year.

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Geopolitics

Cilia Flores de Maduro, How Venezuela's First Lady Wields A Corrupt "Flower Shop" Of Power

Venezuela's first lady, Cilia Flores, is one of the country's chief power brokers and a consummate wheeler-dealer who, with the help of relatives, runs a voracious enterprise dubbed the Flower Shop.

Photo of Cilia Flores (left) and her husband Nicolás Maduro (middle)

Cilia Flores (left) and her husband Nicolás Maduro (middle)

Mauricio Rubio

-OpEd-

One of the clearest signs of tyranny in Venezuela has to be the pervasive nepotism and behind-the-scenes power enjoyed by President Nicolás Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores de Maduro.

In Venezuela, it's said that Flores works in the shadows but is somehow "always in the right place," with one commentator observing that she is constantly "surrounded by an extensive web of collaborators" — including relatives, with whom she has forged a clique often dubbed the floristería, or the "Flower Shop," which is thought to control every facet of Venezuelan politics.

She is certainly Venezuela's most powerful woman.

From modest origins, Flores is 68 years old and a lawyer by training. She began her ascent as defense attorney for the then lieutenant-colonel Hugo Chávez, who was jailed after his failed attempt at a coup d'état in 1992. She offered him her services and obtained his release, which won her his unstinting support for the rest of his life.

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