Macau’s current VIP gambling sector – involving 85 licensed gaming promoters – has “77 gaming rooms” and “1,566 gaming tables”, said the Macau government official with oversight of the industry, in a Thursday plenary session of the Legislative Assembly.
Lei Wai Nong, Secretary for Economy and Finance, gave the figures, though without comparison to pre-pandemic numbers, when asked by several legislators, what help – if any – the city was giving to the junket sector.
A number of investment analysts has said – citing guidance from junket brands – that VIP rolling chip turnover has recently been only 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
On Thursday several legislators expressed concerns about either underemployment, or risk of lay-offs, at junkets in the city.
As of the fourth quarter 2020, the Macau market as a whole had 6,080 gaming tables and 8,906 slot machines in operation, according to the latest available data from the casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
The pandemic had already “changed the gaming industry’s structure”, as reflected in the proportion of Macau’s gaming income being drawn currently from VIP play, versus mass-market gaming, Mr Lei noted to the legislators.
He added that the Macau government had “no way to drive demand” on behalf of city’s gaming trade.
The official stated: “If there are unemployment issues… the government can… help them [junket workers] to find a new job, and provide them with vocational training.”
“For the gaming industry, the first thing we have to do is to help [it] to get more stable when facing the Covid-19 situation. We have to encourage tourists to stay longer here and make our services and products memorable,” Mr Lei remarked.
In the three months to December 31, Macau’s VIP baccarat play accounted for only 34.9 percent of Macau’s aggregate gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the period. It was the first time since the start of the market-liberalisation era, at the beginning of the current century, that the VIP segment accounted for fewer than 40 percent of Macau quarterly GGR.
At another public appearance recently, Mr Lei had been asked specifically by local media, what impact if any, China’s criminalisation of the organising of “overseas gambling” might have on Macau’s VIP trade, which has long catered mostly for high rollers from mainland China. Some Macau junket brands have also in recent years, had gaming rooms in casinos in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr Lei had confined himself to saying that Macau would “observe” mainland China law.
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