A Macau-based marketing firm is to launch a programme to bring Japanese corporate executives to Macau so they can learn about the casino resort industry there.
Japan is undertaking a lengthy series of steps toward legalising a domestic casino industry, and lawmakers and officials from that country have already reportedly made visits to existing casino jurisdictions in Asia and elsewhere to learn more about the sector’s management and operation. A number of investment analysts have said they expect the winning bidders – for what are now expected to be up to three initial licences – to be consortiums comprising Japanese firms and existing casino operators from overseas.
In a press release on Wednesday, the Macau firm, Hogo Digital, which also has an office in Osaka, Japan, said that its programme – titled “Japan-Macau Executive Connection” – “will partner with Macau-based gaming operators for the purpose of offering fam[iliarisation]-trip style tours of the properties, including both front and back of house”.
It added: “The goal.. is to offer Japanese executives a chance to understand the breadth and scale of an integrated resort and also clearly see the positive potential impacts the industry will have in the local market.”
The term “integrated resort” is typically a euphemism in the investment community for a large-scale tourism facility including a casino.
Chris Wieners, managing partner of Hogo, told GGRAsia in a telephone interview on Wednesday that the first official tour will consist of 10 to 15 executives who will travel from Japan to Macau in the middle of June for “two [fully] comprehensive days of touring and discovery meetings with integrated resort operators”.
The participation in the programme will be by invitation, according to Mr Wieners.
“We are able to invite [Japanese executives] who are showing interest… [and there is] interest from [casino resort operators] in terms of the [Japanese] sectors and industries that they would like us to bring to Macau”, he said.
The programme is to be paid for by the individual participants. The price of the mid-June trip was still to be finalised, the Hogo executive said.
Mr Wieners explained that the idea for the programme stemmed from discussions in seminars sponsored by local governments in various Japanese prefectures.
“In these seminars, they invite [international integrated resort operators] to speak to government [officials] and local constituents about the integrated resort industry… Very often, the conversation… between government and operators is very much about how operators can help to change the mindset and educate the community on what an integrated resort actually is,” he said.
“One of the key groups of people, in addition to the general public and mass market, is the business community and business leadership within Japan… As a result, we thought it might make sense to put together a programme for senior business executives from Japan to travel to Macau to learn more about the industry first-hand”, said Mr Wieners.
A trial of the programme took place two weeks ago, the Hogo executive said. It involved five executives from, respectively, the Japanese cities of Osaka and Tokyo visiting Macau.
He added that the participants of the trial toured properties run by two Macau-based casino operators, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd and MGM China Holdings Ltd, with meetings held with the executives of the two Macau casino operators’ procurement departments.
“Our goal is for [participants] to also meet with key executives… so that they can understand how casino operators work with the local business communities, both small- and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations”, he said.
“The executives that we bring are mostly interested in procurement. Again, the base of the programme was to showcase to businesses in Japan that, later on, when integrated resorts do ultimately come to Japan, there is a huge opportunity for the local business community,” said Mr Wieners.
The Hogo managing partner said that the dialogue between the participants and the executives of the Macau casino resorts’ procurement departments would focused on local businesses, the procurement process and the parameters when companies buy products and services from suppliers.
Mr Wieners said that both Galaxy Entertainment and MGM China Holdings have agreed to allow the participants of the first official visit to tour their properties and meet with their executives as they did during the trial. He stated that the goal is to have a total of three Macau casino operators involved in the tour programme.
A number of Japanese lawmakers and officials have referred to the “Singapore model” when discussing the possible regulation and administrative setup for a Japan casino industry. GGRAsia asked Mr Wieners why, under those circumstances, Macau was considered an appropriate model for Japanese executives when learning about the industry.
“There are a couple of reasons… one of them is quite simply just the ease of getting to Macau and the desire to go to Macau by these executives”, he explained.
“Also, we are limited to two operators in Singapore, while we have a variety of operators in Macau to choose from”, he added.
Mr Wieners acknowledged that Japan was showing interest in Singapore’s experience in terms of the legislation and regulation for casino resorts. But he told us: “When it comes to education and the scale and scope of an integrated resort, and specifically in working with the local community, we just felt that Macau has a lot of really good examples and stories to tell.”
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Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International