The Myth of the "Integrated Resort"

Selective History, Retrospective Branding, and Fungible Assets




Integrated Resort, Asia, Myth, Casino Development, Normalization, Architecture


The expansion of the casino industry in Asia over the last two decades has purportedly given rise to a new development model known as the “Integrated Resort” (IR). Within state, professional and public discourses, the IR is often defined in three ways:  1. it evolved from large multi-attraction casino projects in Las Vegas; 2. it is distinguished by the fact that the casino occupies a small area of the property but makes a large contribution to its total revenue; and 3. the casino helps to make non-gaming attractions like museums financially viable. While not all factually inaccurate, I argue that these claims are strategic representations that legitimize and promote the IR in this part of the world. By triangulating different sets of discourses and participating in industry events like the Global Gaming Expo, I unravel the politics of these claims and trace their shifting effects as the IR is translated into various forms of regulatory controls and corporate practices. The emergence of the IR signals a historical moment in the normalization of commercial gambling in Asia, and shows how this transition can proceed through an architectural medium.

Author Biography

Kah-Wee Lee, National University of Singapore

Kah-Wee Lee is an Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore. He works on the relationships between space and power, particularly through the lenses of modern expertise such as architecture, urban planning, law and public administration. His current project examines the expansion of the casino industry across Singapore, Manila and Macau and asks how licit and illicit channels of capital flow are transforming these cities. He is the author of Las Vegas in Singapore: Violence, Progress and the Crisis of Nationalist Modernity (2019). From 2021 to 2022, he was a Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study.




How to Cite

Lee, K.-W. (2022). The Myth of the "Integrated Resort": Selective History, Retrospective Branding, and Fungible Assets. Critical Gambling Studies, 3(2), 174–184.