Macau Residents Gambling More Frequently Than in Previous Years

Posted on: May 30, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: May 30, 2017, 02:25h.

Macau gambling revenues are finally beginning to trend in the right direction, thanks to a return in the VIP segment, and mass marketing efforts from casino resorts. But there’s another factor in the reversal of fortune, and that’s the local resident.

Macau gambling rate study
In early 2016, Macau’s six integrated resort operators launched a local’s campaign that provides various non-gaming perks to city dwellers. But discounted rooms and entertainment packages also led to a slight bump in the resident gambling rate. (Image: Macau Loves Locals)

According to a paper published by the Study of Commercial Gaming at the University of Macau, 51.5 percent of city residents participated in some form of gambling during 2016. That’s two percent higher than what the same poll concluded when it was last tallied in 2013.

Funded by the Macau Social Welfare Bureau, the purpose of the examination is to keep tabs on gambling habits of locals, and monitor whether residents are more prone to developing gambling addictions.

While the nearly 52 percent majority shows that Macau habitants gamble more frequently than the general Chinese population, the rate is still greatly lower than the 68 percent who admitted to participating in Macau back in 2003.

Macau ended Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho’s monopoly on gambling after nearly four decades in the early 2000s, and has been monitoring the social impacts of the casino industry’s liberalization ever since.

Study Results

Like many other Asian cultures, the Chinese have a tendency to gamble due to a strong belief in luck, fate, and fortune. An old gambling proverb in China declares, “If you don’t gamble, you don’t know how lucky you are.”

That’s why the Chinese government has banned nearly all forms of wagering throughout its long history. Macau, a former Portuguese territory, only became part of the People’s Republic in 1999.

But so far, there’s little evidence, at least according to the Macau University findings, that residents in the city are experiencing disproportionate gambling addiction rates.

Of the 2,000 respondents surveyed, only 51, or 2.5 percent of the sample, answered in a manner that classified them as “probable disordered gamblers.” And of those in that category, just 10 (0.5 percent of the total pool) fell into the “severe” grouping.

Assuming the data is correct, that means just 3,250 of Macau’s estimated 650,000 residents are currently suffering from a severe gambling problem. However, the report nevertheless concluded that “there is still room for people to increase their awareness and understanding” when it comes to gambling disorders.

Gaming revenue plummeted from a high of $45 billion in 2013, to $28 billion last year, as the mainland continues to crack down on allegedly corrupt VIP junket operators in Macau.

More Than Gambling

Macau is in the process of trying to advertise its reimagining to potential visitors. Long known for its plethora of casinos, today resorts are marketing their amenities first, and gambling a distant second or third.

A recent Macau tourism report concluded that there are many factors that are now enticing travelers to the region other than gambling. Among the key non-gaming factors are the quality of the resorts, food and beverage establishments, duty-free shopping, and events and entertainment.

Ideally, those components will also attract new residents to Macau and strengthen the local economy.

The Macau government expects to see visitor arrivals grow five percent overall in 2017. That will create more demand, and theoretically, more jobs.