Macau ignores elephant as casino revenue soars

What a difference a year makes. At the 2009 Global Gaming Expo Asia at the Venetian Macao, crowds were thin and worry was thick. For the first time since casino competition began 2004, casino revenue growth had stalled due to visa restrictions that cut the flow of visitors and money from mainland China. A year later, Macau’s casinos are steaming ahead at a record pace, 67 percent of a year ago. Yet the possibility of visa restrictions remain Macau’s elephant in the room that could send the house of cards crashing down again.

As I reported in Asia Times, experts are divided on whether the Beijing will tighten the noose again. But sooner or later, Macau’s resorts will need to broaden their appeal to visitors to expand beyond the Chinese market. Record revenues can make that transition easier or more difficult.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

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