Reframing and reconceptualising gambling tourism in Macau as a Chinese pilgrimage

Michael O'Regan, Jaeyeon Choe*, Michael Di Giovine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


While dominant discourses, media representations and corporate entities in China downplay the presence of Chinese mainland gambling in Macau, Beijing sanctions millions of its citizens to make the journey to Macau to gamble each year. While Macau’s success is often put down to the extent to which visitors are drawn to a secular destination with integrated resorts to engage in individualistic activities, our approach explores Chinese gambling tourists’ movements, rituals and behaviours along post-structuralist lines, so as to generate new insights. The analysis shows how the metaphor of pilgrimage is an important lens to address individual and communal practices amongst outbound Chinese gambling tourists and brings to light the hyper-meaningfulness, shared values, ritualization, play, risk, and liminal conditions that characterise the processes of their entanglements and the centrality of commercial and political interests. In particular, the analysis indicates the need to explore the significance of cultural, spiritual, economic and social dimensions of Chinese outbound tourism, as well as the unique discourses of power and control affecting their movement and practices. By reframing and reconceptualising gambling tourists as a Chinese pilgrimage, we account for manifestations of culture, governmentality and intentional ritualization as well as contribute an alternative construction of pilgrimage beyond euro-centric accounts, which in turn, will stimulate discussion on geographies of pilgrimage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-528
Number of pages21
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019


  • China
  • Macau
  • pilgrimage
  • post-structuralist methodology
  • ritualization
  • rituals
  • tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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