Casino entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson said at the opening of the Parisian Macao casino resort in Cotai on Tuesday that he didn’t rule out opening further themed resorts – possibly one themed on London or one based on San Francisco – but probably not another resort of that scale in Macau.
“We have some ideas for additional work here in Macau, but not any major integrated resorts like the Parisian that we are opening today,” said Mr Adelson, the chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp, parent of the Parisian Macao’s promoter Sands China Ltd.
He added the group had spent “US$13 billion to US$14 billion” so far in Macau. The sum includes US$2.7 billion on the 3,000-room Parisian Macao, which also features meeting space and shops, as well as a half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower.
“[I might do elsewhere] something for [themed around] London, or something from the [United] States like San Francisco, that has a lot of iconic features. But I would only do that in a competitive [multi-resort] environment; because what I need in a non-competitive environment is iconic buildings, like our Marina Bay Sands in Singapore,” stated Mr Adelson. He was referring to markets where the number of licences and properties allowed was strictly limited. Singapore has two casino operators – Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore Plc; and two casino resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.
Asked about other opportunities in the region, Mr Adelson stated: “We are aggressively and continuously… lobbying for other locations throughout Asia Pacific countries: we’ve been looking at Japan, [South] Korea, Vietnam, Thailand.”
The businessman addressed the issue of whether themed resorts – such as his Venetian Macao with its canals and gondolas; and the Parisian Macao with its French imagery – might go out of fashion as Chinese tourists seek to travel outside China.
“We wouldn’t build a thematic property if we didn’t feel this would truly attract people; in proportionately higher numbers than the non-thematic properties,” stated Mr Adelson.
“If there were five properties [in a single market] that were thematic… it would have a disproportionately high, strong effect of attraction for the customers. The more thematic properties you have collectively the better,” he added.
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai, president of Sands China, stated during the press conference for the opening of the Paris-themed Macao property: “I believe the Parisian Macao is going to be a dynamic force that will draw more people to Macao.”
He added that checks of social media indicated “the Venetian [Macao] today is still the most sought after property for any visit to Macau”.
Mr Adelson was asked during the press conference to comment on whether the Macau market had turned a corner after August casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) registered a 1.1 percent growth year-on-year, the first year-on-year expansion for 27 months.
“We are optimistic that we have hit the bottom,” said Mr Adelson.
“Now, is it sustainable for a long time to come? I can’t answer that question. But based upon the [hotel] pre-bookings we have; based upon the convention bookings we have; I think we have essentially hit the bottom,” he stated.
“We’ve gone down [as a Macau market] gradually and I think we will go up gradually. So, Macau still has very good days to come. I can’t predict what the percentage of growth will be, but I’m optimistic about the future,” said the Las Vegas Sands chairman.
Rob Goldstein, president and chief operating officer of the group, said during the press event that despite the recent downturn in the Macau market it remained “the number one market in the world by a multiple of five or six”.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia