Senior figures among Macau’s junket operators are calling for the Macau government to present the gaming industry in a more positive fashion in mainland China and for the Macau authorities to communicate more frequently with the industry.
“The gaming industry of Macau is one veiled in mystery. The government should promote [sic] the industry in a more positive manner in mainland China and the countries along the ‘Belt and Road’,” said Alvin Chau Cheok Wa (pictured in a file photo), head of Macau casino junket investor Suncity Group. He was referring latterly to a Chinese central government initiative linking the country’s development to partnerships on infrastructure and commerce with countries along traditional global trade routes. Mr Chau made his comments during a panel on Tuesday at the opening day of this year’s MGS Entertainment Show (MGS), a casino industry trade show and conference in Macau.
Gaming-related marketing and advertising are illegal in mainland China: advertising of gaming is illegal in Macau. Notwithstanding those facts, most customers at Macau casinos are ethnic Chinese, meaning China’s central authorities and Macau’s government have direct political interests in the trajectory of a market where, according to the local regulator, more than half the gross gaming revenue comes from VIP play.
The Suncity boss said he believed the Macau market’s current leadership in revenue yield terms in the global gaming industry would be safe for at least another 15 years. Instead of “copying Las Vegas”, said Mr Chau, Macau should continue to develop into a “world centre of tourism, leisure and entertainment”. This echoes a phrase adopted by the Macau government in its first five-year development plan for the city, published in April 2016.
“We don’t need to be too concerned or to try to take reference from others. The operational style, culture and market of the United States are very different from that of Macau,” noted Mr Chau.
His fellow panellist, Thomas Pang, boss of Macau VIP junket investor Meg-Star International, suggested the Macau government should enhance its communication with – and provide more support for – the Macau VIP junket operators, “so as to understand better the competitive advantages the industry has when [it is] competing overseas”.
In recent years a number of Macau junket operators have made their services available to Chinese players visiting casinos in other Asia-Pacific markets.
Mr Pang stated: “The Macau government should flaunt the VIP junket industry and recognise it more. Some of the [junket] firms are not only doing great [business] in Macau, but also internationally. Therefore, in my opinion, the government should give the local VIP junket operators great support,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Paulo Martins Chan, director of the Macau gaming regulator Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, told media on the sidelines of an MGS event that the Macau government wanted the junket industry to “grow healthily”.
“We really emphasise on the regulation on junket operators in these two years. We have done a lot on the financial and account auditing of the junkets. This year, we have also done several audits on specific items. This work will continue,” he said.
During the Macau government’s policy address for 2018, presented on Tuesday, the city’s Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On, said the local authorities wanted to dig deeper into problems found in some of the credit issuance records of the city’s VIP gaming promoters in the course of an an ongoing and wide-ranging audit of the sector that began earlier this year.
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Year-on-year increase in total visitor arrivals to Macau in the first half of 2019