In the 1800s, Portuguese colonists legalized gambling on a sleepy Chinese island called Macau. That once-lolling backwater has become a glittering center for tourism in Asia, with an estimated $40 billion to $45 billion in revenue this year, according to Union Gaming Advisors, a Las Vegas based consulting firm.
Nearly two centuries later, Matsu, another island formation off China's coast, wants to grab a piece of Asia's rapid growth in gaming.
But this time, big investors such as Bill Weidner, the former president of Las Vegas Sands, are leading the resort development. (Weidner had a bad break with Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, ultimately testifying against the gaming magnate in a breach of contract suit.)
Controlled by Taiwan, the Matsu archipelago is known mainly as a military outpost in Taiwan and China's ongoing standoff, and as a remote tourist destination.
"It's a beautiful place for birdwatching," said Kuang S. Yeh, Taiwan's minister of transportation and communications. "And it has very special military bases, which is interesting for tourists."