Sands China Welcomes Back VIPs with Updates to Venetian, Plaza Casinos in Macau

Posted on: August 14, 2017, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: August 14, 2017, 12:59h.

Sands China revealed in its half-year financial report plans to renovate VIP areas inside the Venetian Macau and the Plaza Macau. Slated for completion in 2018, the intent of the makeovers is to “create a new benchmark” for VIP gaming in the world’s richest gambling hub.

Sands China VIP refurbishment
With its Parisian resort opening last fall, Sands China is now devoting money to renovations at its older properties in Macau. (Image: Sands China)

Sands China, the operating unit of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands empire, says the Venetian VIP upgrade will consist of updating furniture and fixtures to create a more contemporary feel in the property’s private gaming salons and smoking lounges for high rollers. Adjacent and connected to the Venetian is the Plaza, which will undergo a similar update to its private gaming areas, and will also get a new entrance built for the VIP area.

The Plaza revamp will start later this year, and should be finished by February. The Venetian overhaul will begin in early 2018, and is expected to be completed by June.

New Focus on Cotai

Sands’ investment might suggest a bit of confidence that Macau’s VIP market is poised for a rebound. China’s President Xi Jinping’s had announced a crackdown against corruption in recent years that included a focus on casino VIP junket tours, which government authorities alleged were being used to illegally move money out of the Chinese mainland.

Sands recently severed its relationship with the Neptune Group, once one of Macau’s largest junket companies, in response to Jinping’s crackdown.

Sands China now says in its latest filing that the company is concentrating on the Cotai Strip, a section of Macau modeled after Las Vegas Boulevard where both the Venetian and Plaza resorts are located.

In addition to the VIP gaming areas, Sands is renovating all 2,841 rooms and 64 suites at The Venetian. And earlier this month, the company completed refurbishment of the Four Seasons Hotel’s 360 rooms and suites at the Plaza.

Sands China has five properties in Macau, but just one on the city’s downtown peninsula, which served as the city’s gaming hub prior to Cotai. Opened in 2004, Sands Macau was Las Vegas Sands’ first property outside of Las Vegas, but today it seems to be on the backburner, as the company revealed no renovation earmarked for the relatively small 289-room venue.

VIP Migration in Macau

In 2014, Jinping’s administration began more actively monitoring VIP junket tours that were colluding with casinos to offer pricey travel packages to customers on the mainland in exchange for gambling credit. As a result, fewer high rollers were being enticed to Macau casinos, their total gaming win dropped from $45 billion in 2013 to $28 billion in 2016.

This also led to many resorts rethinking their marketing strategies in an effort to attract more of the mass market. It’s presumably worked, as overall tourism continues to rise. The Macau Government Tourist Office predicts a five percent bump in total visitors this year. 

While that’s good news for resort companies that need to keep their thousands of rooms occupied, the VIP still appears to be king when it comes to generating gaming revenues. And those returning high rollers now prefer the glitz and glamour of the Cotai Strip over the aging downtown peninsula.