The slot machines in Manila’s City of Dreams don’t rattle like they do in the movies. Its permanently lit marble corridors are haunted by the vague smell of recycled cigarette smoke and disinfectant. Easy-listening jazz echoes on an endless loop; a timeless, hermetically sealed consumer limbo with free wi-fi.
Not many people walk out of the complex, preferring to pile into the lines of waiting tour buses that ship patrons out to the Filipino capital’s orbital mega-malls. From the inside there are few gaps in the facade; the windows of the hotel towers look down into a sculpted courtyard of greenery and swimming pools, tended constantly by gardeners in straw campesino hats. But beyond the tangled deathtrap of carpark ramps at the base of the casino, the rest of Entertainment City, a stretch of the coastline given over to the casino business, is barely half-finished.