STELLA CHENG WRITES – How fortunes change! In 2013, Macau’s gambling industry was seven times bigger than Las Vegas’. While Sin City was lucky to make $6.5 billion, Macau, the only location in China where gambling is legal, raked in $45 billion.
But the “Gold Rush in the East” seems to be slowly drying up. High rollers and junket operators begin to vanish from baccarat VIP rooms. Not only are Anti-Corruption campaigns, volatility in Chinese stock market, new Visa regulations, and anti-smoking restrictions threatening Macau’s gambling industry, but also the falling global economy as a whole ruining the party for the rollers, big-time or otherwise
After 24 months of revenue decline, Fernando Chui Sai On, Macau’s Chief Executive, conceded that gross gaming revenue (GGR) will continue to decline for the remainder of the year.
But the lack of regulation and support from Macau’s government appears to be the largest reason behind the shrinking of what was once the largest gambling industry in the world.
Back in December 2014, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, visited Macau to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Macau’s return to Chinese sovereignty from Portugal. During his visit, Xi seemed determined to promote non-gaming tourism in Macau, undoubtedly causing a major blow to Macau’s gambling industry.
But, a declining gaming industry in one locale doesn’t stop Chinese gamblers from gambling. Instead, they simply seek other venues. According to Macau Daily, during Chinese New Year, one of the busiest seasons in China, Chinese gamblers flocked to Australian casino The Star to satisfy their gaming fix.
In light of the bleak future of Macau’s gambling industry, Macau unveiled a Five-Year Plan revealing that the region will shift its focus towards developing Macau into a world tourism and leisure center. Sort of like a Xi Jinping Disneyland?
Well, good luck with that!