LIVE Baccarat Calculations: Macau Machine Gaming and the Production of the Post-Socialist Subject

13/09/2018 (Thursday) 13:00-14:00 E21-G002

Following Portugal’s return of Macau to the PRC in 1999, the local government liberalized the city’s 150-year-old casino monopoly concession. Macau is now the world’s most lucrative site of casino gaming. The majority of Macau’s casino revenues are derived from Chinese high-rollers who gamble in private VIP rooms. However, Macau’s gaming operators are seeking to diversify the industry by targeting Chinese ‘mass market’ tourists. This project analyzes an electronic casino game called LIVE Baccarat, which was specifically created for the Macau market and designed to appeal to ordinary Chinese gamblers. I explore the ways in which the LIVE Baccarat gaming machine ‘economizes’ the game of baccarat by introducing novel betting functions which require gamblers to engage in various forms of financial calculation. LIVE Baccarat may be understood as an apparatus, or dispositif, of subjection of a Chinese ‘mass market’ gambler – a calculating subject and a form of ‘human capital’ that Michel Foucault might call an ‘entrepreneur of the self’. This nascent Chinese economic subject is not only important to Macau’s gaming industry, but to post-socialist market reforms in the PRC, and ultimately to the sustainability of global capitalism.​