The casino resort MGM Cotai – promoted by Macau-based gaming operator MGM China Holdings Ltd – is set to open only with mass gaming tables, but VIP gaming is to be offered at a later stage, said on Thursday the firm’s chief executive, Grant Bowie. The Cotai property is scheduled to be launched on January 29, 2018.
“We certainly will be opening [MGM Cotai with] only mass tables but we are looking to develop relationships and we have already developed relationships with a number of junkets,” Mr Bowie told reporters on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the Macau Oktoberfest at MGM Macau.
“As we build up the property, we would expect that in time we will have [junket] operators in our property in Cotai,” said Mr Bowie. “The relationships we have [with junket operators] means we will have nearly all of the significant [VIP] operators [at MGM Cotai],” he added.
Mr Bowie has previously indicated that MGM Cotai would not focus on VIP play.
MGM Cotai is set to open on January 29, a date just before the Chinese New Year holiday period in 2018. Macau typically sees a spike in casino gambling during Chinese New Year. The firm had previously said the property was scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The overall budget for MGM Cotai has also been pushed up by about 4 percent to HKD27 billion (US$3.46 billion), according to a September filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Currently, MGM China operates only one property in Macau – MGM Macau, in the city’s traditional downtown casino district.
MGM China has previously indicated that the Cotai property would play to the strengths of its U.S. parent MGM Resorts International via entertainment and the experience of packaging a varied holiday experience under one roof.
Commenting on the market positioning of MGM Cotai, Mr Bowie said: “We all understand that Cotai is a new market for us. We also understand that we’re best positioned for the upper, premium market place. As we diversify and provide more entertainment, that’s going to attract a greater number of leisure and tourism visitors.”
The MGM China CEO did not directly comment on whether the delayed opening of the Cotai property and the budget increase might negatively affect the ramp up of the new casino resort. Mr Bowie however expressed confidence in the project’s prospects.
“Clearly we would like to open in the fourth quarter…but unfortunately as a result of the impact of the tyhoon [Hato] and the need for us to get the [government] approvals…we decided to move the opening to 2018. As a result, that also incurred more costs for us,” said Mr Bowie.
“We are thrown challenges all the time. We have to live with what the situation is… and we’re lucky because we have a very strong local team,” he added.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters