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but there’s enough reason for optimism and
or the beginning of the next - to think that things are back where they were
will be something entirely new. prior to September last year.’
‘It will be the first time Bill Lerner is even more assertive. For him,
anyone will have done it ñ there is no doubt Macau will cash in more
bringing in management from than in 2008, its best year so far.
different gaming companies ‘It will be a record. You can see growth of
globally, as well as government 10 percent here in revenues, which by
representatives to Macau,’ definition would be a record. It’s not in terms
Lerner said. of growth, but I think we’ll see record
‘We’ve been asked by an revenues here,’ he says.
Asian government that has
interest in gaming, to come Operators confident
with us to Macau; we’ve been Casinos’ balance sheets from July onwards,
asked by public and private confirm that things seem to picking up in
casino operators in other Macau and the general atmosphere of
markets to join a trip here, so optimism is spreading.
we’re seriously considering They don’t risk predicting what the 2009
bringing a group back that is final results may be, but they’re confident.
representative of gaming SJM chief executive, Ambrose So shares that
companies, as well as feeling and as he tells us, there will still be
government, not investors,’ good business opportunities coming up till
Lerner said. the end of this year.
But while things may be ‘While nobody can predict precise numbers
looking up for Macau, the for the industry for 2009, it may be
analyst has a word of caution. significant to note that the recent Golden
‘I would temper the Week period was indeed quite a busy time for
optimism by saying that the casinos in Macau, and we will experience
Beijing supports this market another festive holiday period in December as
but doesn’t want to see it grow celebrations take place for the tenth
in a way that is problematic to anniversary of the founding of the Macau
the mainland system. Special Administrative Region,’ he tells Macau
‘So, for example, if junkets Business. Gaming Group confirms this.
are reaching down to the mass The co-chairman and CEO of Melco Crown ‘Things are improving on a sequencing basis and
market and pulling players up Entertainment, Lawrence Ho also thinks there are recovery is happening much slower over there,’ he
to the VIP level when they good reasons to be cheerful. says. The new venues scheduled to open in Vegas next
shouldn’t be playing at that ‘I believe the worst is behind us, and the proof is in year along with the country’s economic recovery,
level, or extending credit, that the month by month improvement of our businesses have lead Govertsen to believe that things will start
will create disharmony and and the market at large starting in the second half of happening in the city pretty soon.
problems with the system, I the year. ‘We’ll begin to see growth again by the end of the
just don’t think that that is ‘Although it is still a bit early to say growth will year or by 2010 for sure, as the US economy picks up.
tolerable.’ definitely persist, we remain confident of the And Vegas is picking up as we’re looking to a lot of
Lerner believes the central prospects of Macau and that the mainland will be new supply coming on line next year like MGM City
government will keep a close among the main forces driving the global economic Centre and the Cosmopolitan towards the end of
eye on Macau: ‘If we see recovery,’ he says. 2010.’
excessive growth for an Although optimistic, Francis Lui, Deputy Chairman For Green, Vegas should, to say the least, be feeling
extended period of time, I Galaxy Entertainment Group, opts for a more careful ‘jealous’ of Macau. But the analyst recognises that
think Beijing will tighten the approach, saying: ‘Both the central government and there are striking differences between the two gaming
screws again, whether through the Macau government have acted wisely to ensure markets that might help explain why Vegas has been
visa restrictions or by the managed and sustainable growth of Macau. more hurt in its revenues than Macau.
controlling collection ‘Galaxy’s focus is not on market share, but on ‘Vegas is in the middle of the desert and it draws
dynamics for junkets, or some managing the business for long term growth, and we very heavily on tourism out of two states – Arizona
other mechanism… I don’t are very confident of Macau’s future.’ and California. Also, to get there, you either fly or
know. What I do know is that take a four to five hour drive,’ he says, adding: ‘The
it’s hard to imagine this market How’s Vegas feeling? other issue that has caused Vegas to swing backwards
will grow dramatically more Comparisons between the two gaming hubs are is the fact that convention businesses have been the
than the GDP.’ inevitable and Macau can’t help but feel proud of major victims of the economic crisis, and that
Union Gaming Group is an outperforming its role model. business has fallen away quite significantly.’
independent US-based This has been a particularly difficult year for the Speculation, in Green’s opinion, did the rest: ‘There
research firm, a government United States and Vegas has inevitably suffered. But was also speculation in the Las Vegas market - for
and industry advisor, which while signs of recovery in Macau are fast and some time it was the fastest growing in the US, but
focuses on the global gaming surprising, growth over there seems to be slower. that has reversed itself entirely and it is now in the
industry. Grant Govertsen, partner of Vegas based Union top five or six worst performing states,’ he notes.
18 DECEMBER 2009
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