MGM China Said to Be Considering Bid for Thai Casino License

Posted on: June 17, 2024, 11:53h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2024, 12:24h.

MGM China is reportedly interested in vying for a casino license in Thailand as an avenue for marketing its Macau properties to Thai tourists.

MGM China co-Chairperson Pany Ho. The operator is interested in Thailand and that could include building a casino hotel there. (Image: Macau Business)

Pansy Ho, the co-Chairperson at MGM China, is said to have recently met with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool to promote tourism to Macau in Thailand while also evaluating potential opportunities for the gaming company to become part of Thailand’s rapidly evolving entertainment district scheme, which include plans for casinos.

Iwan Dietschi, senior vice-president of hospitality at MGM China, an operator of two integrated resorts in Macau, said the Thai market is among its top priorities as it represents the company’s largest group of visitors from Southeast Asia and the fastest growing market,” reports The Bangkok Post.

MGM China is 56% controlled by Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) and runs two integrated resorts in Macau.

Thailand Part of MGM China Diversification Efforts

It’s not guaranteed that MGM China will pursue a Thai gaming license, and there’s some speculation among analysts that when the Southeast Asian country establishes regulations, those protocols might be off-putting to some large-scale operators.

Still, Thailand could serve as an important avenue through which the gaming company diversifies its Macau client base. Traditionally, Macau tourism is heavily driven by residents of mainland China and Taiwanese nationals with smaller contributions from other countries in the region, including South Korea. However, arrivals to the Asia-Pacific casino hub from other countries are increasing.

Through the first five months of this year, visitors from Thailand represented the fifth-largest block of arrivals to Macau, according to the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO). That confirms there’s validity in MGM China’s efforts to woo more Thai travelers to Macau.

Those efforts are being accelerated as May represented the best month of aggregate gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the six Macau operators since January 2020. In large part, that upside was fueled by mass-market players, the wagering demographic likely most applicable to Thai visitors to Macau. MGM China has a sales rep in Thailand and is expected to soon expand related staff there.

MGM Eyeing Thailand

MGM Resorts International has already clearly signaled interest in Thailand, but no concrete details have emerged as of yet. With the US-based operator working on an integrated resort in Osaka and its China arm looking for ways to drive more visitors to its Macau casino hotels, it could be more practical for MGM China to represent the gaming giant in Thailand.

That hasn’t been confirmed, but what is clear is that Thailand is pushing to get entertainment district regulations approved before the end of this year, and that five locations for such venues have already been selected. That could pave the way for casino bidding to commence as soon as next year, with construction potentially starting soon thereafter.

The number of entertainment centers that will be approved has yet to be determined, but it’s clear that with the casino component, those venues could be economic growth drivers for Thailand. It’s expected that each entertainment district would require a minimum investment of $2.75 billion, a figure easily approachable for any number of global gaming giants.