The Macau government has received an application for new-to-market live-dealer gaming tables for MGM Cotai, a newly-constructed casino resort due to open to the public on January 29.
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac (pictured), gave the news in comments on Friday to local media.
Mr Leong said the MGM Cotai table request had been made to the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. He didn’t specify the date of the application nor the specific number of gaming tables that had been requested by the operator. But Secretary Leong said the gaming bureau had submitted to his office a report of its analysis on the matter, with a view to further action. The government would announce the result of the process in due course, added the official.
There are precedents in Macau for the authorities to announce new table allocation for a fresh, multimillion-U.S.-dollar resort only a short time before it opens.
The Parisian Macao, a US$2.7-billion project from Sands China Ltd, that opened in the autumn of 2016, had its 150-table allocation confirmed on September 2 that year, prior to its September 13 launch.
The latest Cotai resort – the HKD27-billion (US$3.46-billion) MGM Cotai – is promoted by MGM China Holdings Ltd, another of the six firms entitled to run casino operations in the Macau market.
The Macau government operates a table cap policy, effective since 2013, designed to limit compound annual growth in the number of new live-dealer tables in the city’s casinos to 3 percent until the end of 2022, from a base of 5,485 tables recorded at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012.
The Macau market had 6,419 live-dealer tables as of the end of the fourth quarter – 30 fewer than at the end of the third quarter – stated the regulator in quarterly data updated on January 16.
Analysts of brokerage Deutsche Bank Securities Inc estimated in a January 10 note that MGM China would receive 150 tables for its new Cotai property. They also said that MGM Cotai “will open with direct VIP only, with junkets expected to begin to come online in the late first-quarter 2018/early second-quarter 2018 timeframe”.
MGM China has previously said the venue has capacity for 500 live-dealer tables.
Grant Bowie, the chief executive of MGM China, said on January 15 that an opening ceremony for MGM Cotai would take place only on February 13 – a fortnight after the venue’s planned launch to the public – in order to fine tune some “high-level technology” being used on site.
In other remarks on Friday, Secretary Leong said he expected 2018 casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau to expand at a steady pace throughout the year. In 2017, the monthly rate of year-on-year GGR growth ranged from 3.1 percent in January to 22.6 percent in November, contributing to an average expansion of 19.1 percent year-on-year for the 12 months.
Regarding market-wide GGR estimates for 2018, the official cautioned that external factors – including the respective economies in Macau’s visitor source markets; the global economy; and competition from gaming industries in other jurisdictions – could influence what happened over the year.
The Secretary added that the government would step up efforts to enhance the overall competitiveness of the city’s gaming sector in order to cope with challenges arising regionally and internationally.
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"The initial expectation for the October Golden Week was that the Cotai casino resorts might see an average occupancy rate at 80 percent to 90 percent. But that rate now might stand at just 50 percent to 60 percent... following Macau’s news of the new Covid-19 infection cases”
Andy Wu Keng Kuong
President of the Macau Travel Industry Council