Glorified Fantasies and Masterpieces of Deception on Importing Las Vegas into the ‘New South Africa’


With the end of apartheid, Johannesburg and other South African cities are now part of a new global race to become ‘world‐class’ tourist and business centers. At the center of this development is the importation of Vegas‐style spectacle by local entrepreneurs, firms and other city boosters who create fantasyscapes such as the Emperor’s Palace and GrandWest. Financed and run by South African impresarios — whose luxurious empires transcend the continent — these resorts represent not only the globalization of gaming but the way in which South African cities see themselves within the worldwide urban hierarchy. As such, this article seeks to untangle the global and local aspects of importing fantasy into the ‘new South Africa’.