Stanley Ho Hung-sun's reported loss of his 38-year-old monopoly of the gambling industry in Macau will end an era for the former Portuguese enclave, even though Mr Ho will remain a major force on the scene. However, Macau's decision to widen the franchise creates an opportunity to transform its prime revenue source into a broadly based and rather more upmarket entity than it has been to date. Across the world, the leisure industry is working to make gambling an acceptable form of entertainment by casting off a criminal past and tawdry image. In Las Vegas - originally a desert outpost founded on an underworld gaming industry and now the fastest growing city in America - it has been done with spectacular success. The city is a major centre for business conferences and symposiums as well as an affordable family vacation resort offering a wide variety of entertainment for all ages. It would be unrealistic to expect the Macau equivalent to reach such heights overnight, or even within the next decade. Revamping its image will require much work and great imagination, but drafting in experts from the United States and Australia, who have set new standards in their countries, is a good way to start. No casino centre will ever be totally respectable. Prostitution and crime will always be on the periphery, and gambling excesses will continue to ruin lives and break families. For all its sophistication, and despite the highly respected hotel chains which have moved in, Las Vegas still has its hookers and unsavoury elements. But 'destination gambling' centres do create jobs and fuel the economy. Macau is already established as a magnet for the region's high-rollers. Casinos are the economy's mainstay. But they are too narrowly focused in a region where the leisure industry is highly competitive and likely to become more so as prosperity returns to Southeast Asia. If an influx of fresh blood, outside investment and innovative ideas comes to the scene, Macau's image could be revitalised. It could be transformed into a centre for top-class holiday entertainment with the gaming tables just one of the attractions on offer. With a Disney theme park just a short ferry ride away in Hong Kong, much could be gained from the combined allure of both SARs.