Macau’s Success Depends on Reinvestment, Asserts Galaxy Executive

Posted on: November 17, 2021, 08:52h. 

Last updated on: November 17, 2021, 09:36h.

Operators must keep putting resources into Macau to avert rivalry for local tourist dollars from different urban areas inside the Greater Bay Area. That’s the latest advice from Buddy Lam, Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Senior VP of Public Relations

Macau, Galaxy, COVID
Galaxy Macau, currently undergoing significant enhancements, could be the beneficiary of more reinvestment, as the company’s Senior VP of Public Relations calls on local operators to consider injecting more funds into the city. (Image: Inside Asian Gaming)

Lam was reacting to inquiries on Wednesday during a board meeting at the MGS Summit about Galaxy Macau’s Phase 3 and Phase 4 improvement projects. He outlined explicitly why the organization was pushing ahead in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lam told a board representing the six Macau concessionaires that the company has “confidence in Macau’s long-term future development.” Set to be completed in 2022, Galaxy Macau Phase 3 will incorporate new gaming and retail spaces. That’s in addition to the 450 all-suite tower Raffles at Galaxy Macau and the Galaxy International Convention Center with Andaz Macau hotel.

“Last week, Macau rolled out its master plan for the tourism industry, and it is anticipated that tourism is anticipated to reach 40 million per year [by 2025], so once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, we will see visitation return to 2019 levels in no time,” Lam said.

The advancement of the Greater Bay Area implies there will be rivalry between urban communities in the area. Guangzhou and Hong Kong have been carrying out various high-profile tourism projects. That means Macau casino operators need to be ready to confront this opposition and utilize this period to advance their situation against rival areas.

Uncertainty Remains Over Gaming Laws

There has been concern that Macau’s new gaming laws, which still have not been clarified, could dampen enthusiasm for innovation. Hints have surfaced that Macau authorities might become more controlling over where and when money is spent by operators, which has the companies and analysts a little uneasy.

Sands China’s VP of Corporate Communications & Community Affairs, Sam Chong Nin, concurred that the pandemic presented the ideal chance to his organization to finish a $2 billion change of Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner Macao, with insignificant disturbances to guests.

Similarly, MGM China’s Kenneth Feng said the eventual fate of MGM China, Macau’s smallest concessionaire in terms of market share, was “dependent upon investment.” Although he clarified that further development in China could deliver prosperity to Macau, as well.

Prolonged Impact from COVID-19

Some gaming equipment manufacturers are concerned that Macau’s electronic gaming market will not get back to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2025, repeating comparable projections on traveler arrivals presented by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO). Macau’s recuperation timetable was a subject of conversation during a board meeting at the MGS Summit, in which executives from IGT, LT Game and Scientific Games participated.

The concern likewise follows distribution by the MGTO last week of an audit report into its travel industry master plan from 2017. That report is where the agency proposed tourism numbers may only reach around 90% of pre-pandemic levels by 2025. Ken Jolly, VP and managing director, Asia for Scientific Games, and LT Game COO Betty Zhao both anticipated it would be a few years before the section arrived at 2019 levels. That year saw gaming machines contribute MOP$15.14 billion (US$1.89 billion) and Live MultiGame another MOP$2.84 billion (US $354 million) to the gaming industry.

Gaming machine manufacturers don’t expect Macau to rebound until at least 2025, as COVID-19 issues continue to slow recovery efforts.

Asserted Jolly, “In our thoughts, there will be a build-up in growth again as visitation changes. But we don’t see it back to normal until at least post-2025, particularly on the electronic gaming side of the industry.”

Referring to the MGTO’s audit, Zhao added that it is projected that arrival numbers could be back close to 40 million each year in 2025.

Not all are so skeptical, however. Aristocrat’s Lloyd Robson and IGT’s Michael Cheers foresee solid numbers by 2023. Robson opined, “I think there are three key stages to get through, one being the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, then we move into the CCP Congress next November, and I do expect some momentum rolling into Chinese New Year 2023.”

Cheers was equally as optimistic, expecting the first and second quarter of 2023 to be the definitive period for Macau’s recovery, as well as a “new normal and a positive business environment.”