Billionaire casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson predicts a revival for beleaguered Macau as he launches his new Paris-themed mega resort, with the gambling enclave betting its fortunes on mass market tourists.
Macau bets on tourist revival with Paris-themed resort
Tycoon Adelson bets on Macau revival with Paris-themed resortMacau (Macau) – 13 September 2016 – AFP Billionaire casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson predicted a revival for beleaguered Macau Tuesday as he launched his new Paris-themed mega resort, with the gambling enclave betting its fortunes on mass market tourists.A corruption crackdown by Chinese President Xi Jinping and an economic slowdown since mid-2014 drove away many mainland high-rollers who had propped up the VIP sector in semi-autonomous Macau — the only part of China where it is legal to gamble.The former Portuguese colony has struggled to recover its footing ever since as it comes under pressure from Beijing to diversify away from gambling.But August saw gaming revenues end a slump that had lasted more than two years, with some analysts putting the rally down to a new raft of resorts trying to entice mass market gamblers and non-gaming tourists. Adelsons’ Sands is hoping to follow the trend with The Parisian, a cavernous casino complex with 3,000 rooms, shopping arcades, restaurants and a water park boasting a “Marie Antoinette” slide.The opening ceremony Tuesday night saw fireworks set off from the resort’s half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower as can-can music played.Earlier in the day, 83-year-old Adelson voiced hope for Macau.”We are optimistic that we have hit the bottom,” he told reporters.”Macau still has very good days to come.”But he said the bounceback was likely to be gradual and it remained to be seen how long the recovery would last.Sands would now turn its attentions to trying to develop casinos in other Asian markets, including Japan and Korea, he added.The Parisian has more than 400 gaming tables, with around 12 percent of them expected to be for VIPs, but Adelson played down the importance of high rollers.”Other locations… are trying to pick up the excess (VIP) market that is no longer here,” said Adelson.”The mass market will always be here.”The complex stands next to Sands’ other massive casino hotel on Macau’s Cotai Strip, The Venetian.Adelson was confident Sands’ concession would be renewed when licences come up for review in 2020 because of its non-gaming emphasis. He said he would be “disappointed” if The Parisian did not break even within four years.- Positive growth – The Parisian is the second launch by Las Vegas stalwarts in weeks, after the $4 billion Wynn Palace — home to a giant lake, musical fountains and cable cars, as well as gaming tables — opened in August.Recent launches by Galaxy and Studio City have also upped the non-casino element.Some analysts say the new mass market openings were behind August’s gaming revenue rise of 1.1 percent to 18.84 billion patacas ($2.36 billion), compared to the same month in 2015.”We think the remaining few months of the year will show positive year-on-year growth (in gaming revenues) and we are looking for 10 percent growth in 2017,” said Aaron Fischer, gaming analyst at brokerage CLSA.”Most of that growth will come from mass market driven by the expansion in hotel capacity,” Fischer added, although he pointed out 50 percent of revenue still came from VIPs. Ben Lee of Macau-based gaming consultancy Igamix was more sceptical of the mass approach.Year-on-year comparisons were still “relatively flat” and the VIP segment remained critical for significant growth, he told AFP. Visitors on opening night made a beeline for the casino area.”I will have a look at the casino and see if I want to play, but I also want to look at the shops and maybe eat in a restaurant,” said nurse Meisy Chan, 23, who lives in Macau.”I think it’s a wonderful place.” Macau overtook Las Vegas as the world’s casino capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002.It still leads its US counterpart despite the downturn.lm/ds