Pansy Ho Chiu King (pictured), co-chairperson of casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd, on Friday indicated the downturn in Macau gross gaming revenue (GGR) would help Macau gaming operators become more efficient, more competitive and ultimately make them stronger.
She said: “I’m not concerned. On the contrary, I think this is a good time for the gaming industry [in Macau].”
Ms Ho was speaking to local media on the sidelines of a press conference previewing the Global Tourism Economy Forum. The event starts in Macau on October 27.
Ms Ho said the slowdown indicates that the city’s gaming industry is stabilising, allowing casino operators better to plan for the future.
The businesswoman, who has a 27-percent stake in MGM China, said casino operators in Macau are now better prepared to deal with volatility and are “not so sensitive to external factors”.
Macau’s casinos have seen four consecutive months of declines in GGR since June, which analysts have blamed on a combination of supply side factors and demand side ones.
VIP revenue was down 19.1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2014, according to official data published by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau last week.
Ms Ho said in her comments to Macau media that the focus of the local gaming industry is now changing to complementary offerings – such as entertainment. She said such offerings were likely to be of proportionally greater importance in the upcoming large-scale projects in Cotai than in the existing ones. At the Global Gaming Expo Asia 2014, Ms Ho had said Macau casino operators were “eager” to push for diversification.
On Friday, Ms Ho reiterated that every gaming concessionaire is now planning for more non-gaming investment in the new properties, due to open between 2015 and 2017.
“I’m sure each of us [casino operators] has the intention to follow that route, either alone or in partnership with other entities,” Radio Macau quoted Ms Ho as saying. She did not elaborate.
The Macau government has previously indicated the size of allocation of gaming tables for new projects would be linked to the amount of non-gaming facilities that were built.
Ms Ho also talked about the construction of MGM Cotai, the US$2.9 billion property that the firm is developing. She admitted that labour costs and a shortage of construction workers could put back the opening of the new casino resort, scheduled for 2016. She had already talked about the city’s labour pains in July.
In August, MGM Resorts International, the parent of MGM China, shifted ground on the MGM Cotai opening date, no longer telling investors it expected to open the property “in early 2016”.
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"The MSAR [Macau Special Administrative Region] Government is always maintaining its policy not to have imported labour to work as dealers. This position has not changed"
Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance