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Casino hub Macau holds informal poll on democracy

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MACAU (AP) — Activists in the Chinese casino capital of Macau have kicked off an informal poll to gauge support for democratic reforms.

They're inspired by a similar vote in Hong Kong that had a big turnout but was denounced by Beijing as an illegal farce.

The weeklong unofficial referendum began on Sunday.

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a semiautonomous Chinese region with a leader hand-picked by an elite Beijing-friendly committee.

The committee is widely expected to elect current leader Fernando Chui to another five-year term on Aug. 31. That's the same day that referendum organizers will release the poll results.

Macau is the world's biggest gambling market and the only place in China where casinos are legal.

Social tensions have grown as the decade-long casino boom widened inequality and strained resources.

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