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by Paula Campos
Hitting the jackpot
As the world continues to lick its economic wounds, Macau’s casinos
are like the proverbial cat that got the cream, after a summer
gambling spree which could well make this a record year for revenues.
But Beijing is worried about unchecked growth and this has led to
cooling measures…
ust when everybody seemed happy in tamp it (Cotai) down,’ Steve Wynn said adding: ‘If
gambling land, stocks came tumbling down in they limit the amount of (gaming) tables, there is no
the wake of new measures to control growth, reason to build any more.’
and Guangdong province – one of the richest
in China – tightened visa restrictions on its Agreement
residents travelling to Macau. But Tam said the six gaming concessionaires had
After a meeting with the six operators in early agreed with the government that the industry could
October, Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis not expand without a limit.
Tam announced that the government was raising the ‘They have supported the government’s plan to
minimum casino entry age from 18 to 21, putting a review the scale of the industry including the number
cap on the number of gaming tables, and relocating of gaming tables,’ he said after the meeting. Also
speaking after the meeting, Ambrose So, chief
executive officer of SJM Holdings, said the overall size
of the gaming market ‘cannot be expanded forever
without any restriction’.
He explained that the development of the casino
industry has not only affected other industries in
Macau, but skewed the labour market, making it
reasonable and logical for the government and the
licensed operators to make regulatory moves.
Nothing new
But is there any reason to panic?
Billy Ng, analyst with JP Morgan doesn’t think so,
as he tells Macau Business: ‘The age limit shouldn’t
pose a real problem because nobody really knows
how many people under 21 go to casinos and
probably there are not that many VIPs under this age,
so this shouldn’t have a big impact.
‘As to the number of tables, it depends on how
many they will want to put as the limitation. If we’re
talking about 1,500 per casino, it will be no problem
because we only have around 1,000 now, so they
would still have room to grow.’
One operator could be affected, though, Ng says:
slot machines away from residential areas. ‘Las Vegas Sands is the only one with over a thousand
Despite the apparent agreement of the gaming tables, so if the limit is set there, what are
concessionaires, the move spooked investors leading they supposed to do? Shut down tables? And if that is
to a slump is casino share prices. the case, will this lead to lay-offs?’
The founder of Wynn, who was initially widely The government won’t be too keen to hear the
quoted as saying the proposed government limit on word ‘lay-off’, especially when it has gone to such
gaming tables would benefit the casino sector, later lengths to protect local labour. But with an IPO
said that Macau may be moving to slow development. coming, Las Vegas Sands will not be too happy about
‘I’ve got a feeling that the government’s going to this possible cap on gaming tables either.
14 DECEMBER 2009
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