Inside, the mood was quietly tense as chain-smoking gamblers hovered over their chips, making bets as high as US$33,000. Sharing the tables were scores of young men and women with headsets. Their job: to play the hands of remote Chinese bettors who followed the action through live video feeds.
Over dinner, Liu lamented that his gambling addiction had destroyed his family and the mining company, started with friends, that has since gone belly up.
“I’ve lost all face,” he said.
However, his mood brightened as he took one more stroll through the casino floor. He paused at a roulette table, threw down a 100 renminbi note bearing the face of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and waited. When the ball dropped, he picked up 200 yuan from the table and walked out into the night, a smile on his face.