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Macau’s long-term plan to move away from VIP casino revenue

Wed, Nov 23, 11:42am by Staff Writer

Macau is on a 20-30 year plan to become the world’s greatest entertainment destination according to one leading industry expert, as the world’s largest gambling hub moves to diversify its business.

At its peak, Macau was raking in seven times as much than Las Vegas in gambling revenue, with the Chinese VIP market fuelling a massive boom which eventually caught the attention of Chinese authorities.

As part of its crackdown on ostentatious displays of wealth, the Chinese government started scrutinising the gambling behaviour of its nationals. That caused a marked drop in revenue in Macau over the past few years, with a recovery only just now in its infancy.

But a leading industry expert has told the South China Morning Post, that he believes Macau will never get back to the days where it was a gambling haven, with moves afoot to make it an all-purpose family destination, as it moves away from VIP business.

Paul Broberg, an expert on Asia’s casino industry and chief executive of Spectrum Asia, believes that within 20-30 years, Macau will be close to unrecognisable to what it has been in the past.

For the next few years Macau will remain a gambling destination,” Broberg says. “However, if you take a long-term view of 20 to 30 years, I definitely see Macau being an entertainment destination.”

“These things have to be marketed and then the reputation has to be earned – you can’t just build the premises and think that will suffice, it’s going to take a lot of will on the part of the casinos.”

“But to attract families and tourists you have to offer different products, and that’s where Macau has started the diversification process, and that process will continue; but it will take many years before [diversification is] fully successful. Macau itself will do fine, but some of these investors in these new resorts are probably going to feel the pain.”

In the short term, Broberg believes that despite the government crackdown and the high scrutinty placed on junket operators, that Chinese VIPs will still prefer Macau

“Right now, some of the destinations have taken away some of the VIP business from Macau,” he said.

“But as for these other destinations posing a real threat to Macau, the answer is no. When you’ve got 1.6 billion people on your doorstep, especially with 120 million people who are directly around you, then you’re in a much better position than any of those competitors, and so I think Macau will continue to have the monopoly in the region and also China.”

“Remember, with Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, there are other issues at stake which will come up from time to time.”

“South China Sea issues, sovereignty issues, nationalism – which means that there will always be certain times when the Chinese government will probably place restrictions on their nationals travelling to those countries. So I think Macau will retain its status as a top entertainment or gambling destination in the region for the foreseeable future.”

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