The president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman (pictured), says Asian casino operators are “absolutely welcome” in the United States.
“As an industry, we welcome competition,” Mr Freeman told GGRAsia on the sidelines of the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia trade show, which started this morning in Macau.
G2E Asia is co-organised by the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions. It runs until Thursday at the Venetian Macao.
“Just as American companies are looking for opportunities elsewhere, other companies are looking for opportunities in the U.S. That is a sign of the strength of that market,” he said.
Mr Freeman is visiting Macau for the first time. He became the head of the American Gaming Association last year.
Three of the six Macau licensed casino operators are subsidiaries of U.S.-based companies and are therefore subject to the oversight of U.S. regulators. In 2009, a New Jersey regulator found businesswoman Pansy Ho Chiu King “unsuitable”. Ms Ho is the joint venture partner of MGM Resorts International in Macau, owning a minority stake on Macau-based operator MGM China Holdings Ltd. The regulator’s decision led MGM Resorts to decide to leave the New Jersey market. But in February 2013 the Las Vegas company, which still owns 50 percent of Atlantic City’s market-leading Borgata, petitioned the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to reinstate the company’s gaming licence in Atlantic City.
In the 2009 report, Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement wrote that Ms Ho’s relationship and financial ties to her father, gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun, as well as “her associations with persons alleged to be associated with organised crime render her susceptible to influence by unsuitable persons.”
Mr Freeman says U.S. regulators are starting to change their views on the Macau market.
“U.S. regulators are coming here. They are seeing the market. The good thing is the more the regulators in the United States see this market, the more impressed they come away with the sophistication of the regulatory model that is in-place.”
Mr Freeman is not worried that a growing number of U.S.-based gaming operators are seeking expansion opportunities in Asia. He remains confident on the long-term strength of the U.S. market, but adds “Asia will continue to be a primary area of opportunity”.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings