Phil Falcone Bets on a Casino (Where the Locals Can’t Gamble)
by Matthew Campbell
It’s 7:55 on a sweltering Tuesday morning in southern Vietnam, and more than 1,000 cleaner, cooks, and card dealers from the Grand Ho Tram Strip casino wait outside the resort’s largest ballroom for a staff meeting to start. A bass-heavy electronic beat booms from within. When the doors finally open, drawing a cheer, the ballroom is dark, apart from beams from blue and white spotlights dancing across the ceiling. In the middle of the floor are five figures. Four are tall Vietnamese women, dressed in bright red, ankle-length feathered skirts; bright red, rhinestone-studded bikini tops; and bright red, feathered headdresses twice the width of their shoulders. The women form a square and stride forward, hoplite warriors in the world’s weirdest phalanx, with the fifth person at their center: Michael Kelly, a middle-aged guy from Philadelphia who’d never even visited Asia before signing on as the casino’s executive chairman.
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