Ambrose So Shu Fai (pictured), chief executive of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd, told media on Monday that he anticipated “minimal impact” to the city’s casino earnings from planned new customer verification technology at local automated teller machines (ATMs).
Holders of Chinese mainland-issued China UnionPay Co Ltd cards that wish to use them for cash withdrawal at Macau ATMs will soon have to present their identity card and pass a facial recognition scan.
“My guess is that it would result in a minimal impact… So after one month or two months – when these procedures are put into place – then we’ll see whether this affects the mass market or the VIP market,” Mr So remarked to the media. He was speaking on Monday on the sidelines of a blessing ceremony for SJM Holdings’ dragon boat team.
The Macau government announced that day that local ATMs – including those inside or near casinos – would have the so-called “know your customer” (KYC) technology installed under a programme running in stages. The government did not provide a deadline for when all current machines would be replaced by new ones.
“I think those that hold multiple [mainland China-issued UnionPay] cards will be affected… but if there aren’t many of this type of patron, then it would not create much of an impact,” SJM Holdings’ Mr So noted. “From our dealing experience, the junkets [organising VIP] betting in our casinos do not hold multiple cards,” he added.
The CEO was asked when the ATMs inside SJM Holdings’ casinos would need to be upgraded. He said he did not know. But he noted that the firm would follow any Monetary Authority of Macao guidelines regarding the matter.
Mr So also commented on the delayed opening of SJM Holdings’ under-construction new resort on Cotai, Grand Lisboa Palace. As noted by the firm’s management on a conference call with analysts on May 4 – following its first-quarter earnings results – the opening will be in the second half of 2018, rather than the previously-announced first half of 2018.
“We originally expected that we could finish all the works [at Grand Lisboa Palace] by the end of 2017. But for such a big project, to postpone it [the opening time] by two months is not a big wonder,” Mr So said.
“Now we hope that by February, we can complete all furnishing works. After completing this, we need the inspections and licence issuance from the relevant government departments here, which could take a couple of months. So we make the forecast [for the opening Grand Lisboa Palace] as the second half of 2018,” the SJM Holdings chief executive added.
Mr So noted that the company would still strive to maintain the budget cost for Grand Lisboa Palace project at the previously stated HKD36 billion (US$4.63 billion), given the Cotai project deadline has been pushed to the second half of next year.
SJM Holdings does not currently have a casino operating on Cotai. Mr So said his firm aimed meanwhile to maintain the “market share” it has on Macau peninisula.
“On Macau peninsula, we occupy a market share of 40 percent,” Mr So said.
“We are constantly updating our VIP and mass gaming mix at Grand Lisboa,” the CEO noted, referring to the firm’s flagship property on the peninsula. “And with Casino Jai Alai and Oceanus, we hope to boost our competitiveness in this next year or so,” he added.
The casino facilities of the revamped Jai Alai complex, near to Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal at the Outer Harbour, have been in operation since December, according to previous SJM Holdings commentary. But Mr So noted that his firm was awaiting government approval for the opening of the hotel at Jai Alai.
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