Macau casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd had seen its mass-market gambling business “back to 60 percent of where it once was,” said on Thursday Bill Hornbuckle, president and chief executive of the United States-based parent, MGM Resorts International. That was understood to be a reference to pre-pandemic levels, i.e., during calendar year 2019.
The executive added: “For our in-house VIP” business “we have taken share” from competitors, “and continue to take share”.
Mr Hornbuckle (pictured in a file photo) was speaking during the Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference, hosted by Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd analyst Vitaly Umansky.
MGM China runs the MGM Macau on the city’s peninsula, and MGM Cotai, in the newer casino-focused district.
The CEO stated of Macau: “When we look back 12 months from now we are going to be back to the ‘new normal’. I think the real question is what will be the ‘new normal’?”
He echoed a view of Robert Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, parent of Macau operator Sands China Ltd, speaking at the same conference.
The Macau market’s recovery had so far been “more disappointing than other places… Las Vegas of note,” said MGM Resorts’ Mr Hornbuckle. Although he added in his view the Macau market would “continue to migrate up”.
Offering some commentary on recent Covid-19 cases in mainland China’s Guangdong province, next door to Macau, the MGM Resorts CEO stated that the authorities locally had “reacted harshly and strongly” to tackling the outbreak.
“I think we will see some ebbing and flowing over the next couple of quarters” demand-wise in Macau, he observed.
Regarding MGM China’s VIP gambling business, Mr Hornbuckle said: “As that market shifts away from junket, to in-house VIP, we have been ideally structured over many decades in Asia, with our branch system – whether it’s in Hong Kong or in other places, to know those customers, and to be openly able to market to them, and bring them into the properties, through arrangements we make directly.”
MGM China saw its revenue for the first three months of 2021 rise by 8.8 percent year-on-year, to nearly HKD2.30 billion (US$296.4 million). The increase was mainly supported by a growth in the mass-market segment, according to the quarterly earnings filing.
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