Posts Tagged ‘Macau government’

Top Macau casino leaders speak freely

June 16, 2017

In different settings, leading casino executives and shareholders Lawrence Ho of Melco Resorts and Francis Lui of Galaxy Entertainment unexpectedly speak out on Macau and other key gaming issues. As public policy increasingly determines casino revenue, industry leaders may feel compelled to join the debate. And you’ll never guess Lawrence Ho’s corporate muse on property synergy.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

License expiration looms for Macau casinos

September 8, 2015

Along with falling revenue and billions invested in property expansion, license expiration threatens Macau casinos. In this game, authorities in Beijing and Macau hold all the cards.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau chief Chui faces protest, casino license challenges

September 11, 2014

Fernando Chui Sai-on has been chosen for a second term as Macau’s chief executive. Chui faces new labor and political activism, plus looming expiration of casino licenses during his next five years in office.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Macau’s record year means less of more

January 12, 2011

In 2010, Macau gaming revenue set another new record at 188.34 billion Macau patacas ($23.5 billion), capped with its biggest monthly haul ever in December. Gaming industry experts are convinced that Beijing will continue permitting vast quantities of the mainland’s wealth to leave via Macau’s baccarat tables.

But grassroots Macau benefits little from its influx of tourists and money, and there’s no coherent plan to change that. Efforts at diversifying the economy from its reliance on gaming, in the few cases where they’ve progressed past the talking stage, remain fruitless. As I wrote in Asia Times, the hospitality industry suffers from a plague of Macau see, Macau do: emulating rivals’ (mainly unsuccessful) ideas rather than daring to be original. The government looks increasingly unable to spend its vast wealth, now estimated are more than $25 billion for a city of 550,000, to benefit residents.

Macau has become a great place to bet or buy Gucci, but an increasingly poor place to live and work. In the long run, that’s not good for anyone. Even if Macau’s ruling elite and gaming industry don’t realize it, Beijing surely does.

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.

Sands China rolls 7-8 craps in Macau

December 10, 2010

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Macau aims to diversify its gambling-addicted economy, a course Beijing urges at every opportunity, as the city’s gaming revenue climbs beyond $2 billion a month. Last week, Macau rejected Sands China’s bid for Lots 7 and 8 to build a new casino resort in the Cotai entertainment district. But Macau’s decision may have no connection to economic diversification.

A subsidiary of US-based Las Vegas Sands, Sands China has spearheaded efforts to create an Asian version of the Las Vegas Strip in Cotai, a landfill connecting Macau’s outer islands of Coloane and Taipa. Following its $12 billion master plan, Sands China has already opened the Venetian Macao, and the Four Seasons/Plaza complexes, and has another 6,400 room casino resort under construction. Sands China says it invested more than $160 million in Lots 7 and 8 based on an informal grant from the Macau government several years ago.

In tiny Macau, land is the most valuable commodity, and the government controls it. Formal approval for land concessions in Macau routinely comes long after the designated developer begins work. Sands China has every right to feel that it got a raw deal. It has appealed the decision to Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on. The company could also take its case to court. But in Macau, where matters are habitually decided behind closed doors and without public explanations – news about Lots 7 and 8 came from Sands China, not the government – it’s tough to beat the house.

Losing Lots 7 and 8 hurts Sands China but, as I wrote in Asia Times, the meaning for Macau is far less clear. Denying the application seems to be a move to limit future gaming, but it’s likely that the land will be granted to one of Sands China’s rivals to build its own casino resort.

Macau’s government may have a grudge against Sand China, even though it’s the casino developer that provides the most diverse non-gaming amenities at its resorts, including shopping malls, a 15,000 seat arena, a Cirque du Soleil production, and a 1,000,000 square foot convention center, all money losers to date. Macau added insult to injury by staging an unprecedented vice raid Friday at the Venetian Macao during a visit by Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who reportedly has a rocky relationship with government leaders.

Or Macau could be signaling it will limit growth for outsiders, defined as anyone not named Ho – as in local gambling godfather Stanley Ho. Ho and his children have stakes in three of Macau’s six casino licenses.

The saga of Lots 7 and 8 unmistakably illustrates that Macau’s unelected, unaccountable government can and will act arbitrarily. Smart investors will understand that hard reality trumps Macau’s glittering casino revenue numbers.

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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