Macau Reopens: World’s #1 Gaming Hub Is Back In Business

The largest gambling hub in the world has started to reopen after a long COVID-19 lockdown. Macau has taken some baby steps on the road to complete reopening, something which still is not on the horizon. Nevertheless, China’s gambling paradise has started issuing tourist visas once again, albeit only for the visitors coming from other parts of the country.

When will Macau reopen for international visitors stays a mystery as the coronavirus still remains a serious threat. Another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic would wreak havoc on the city that relies heavily on tourism and gaming. According to BBC, Macau casinos have been losing $15 million every day during the crisis.

Macau Reopens Only to Visitors from Mainland China

The COVID-19 global pandemic started out in China, with the total number of cases being just short of 85,000 at the moment of writing. Macau, however, has been doing much better than mainland China.

Even though there are about 700,000 people who call Macau their home, only 46 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the region. An even more impressive fact is that all of the infected people have recovered successfully.

One of the main reasons behind Macau’s success with handling the crisis is that the region closed down to visitors early on. The Macau travel restrictions were introduced in January, practically turning the biggest gambling hub in the world into a ghost town.

The restrictions lasted until this Wednesday, causing a serious blow to the city’s economy. The worst is behind, but the Macau casino industry has a long road to recovery ahead. There’s no doubt it’s going to be slow as at the moment, as only visitors from mainland China are allowed in. It’s still unknown when the things are going to go back entirely to normal.

On the bright side, a big majority of visitors to Macau are those coming from mainland China. It’s been like that since always, even though this city is home to some prestigious casinos owned by American companies, e.g., Wynn, MGM, and so on.

Macau Casinos Recording Huge Losses

Macau went on lockdown in late January, which included the closure of the regional borders, as well as the shutdown of all the casinos in the area. After only 15 days, Macau casinos returned to business in February.

In comparison, Las Vegas casinos stayed shut down for several months. Nevada shut down all the venues on March 17, and after nearly three months of hiatus, casinos were allowed to go back to business on June 4.

Nevertheless, the Macau gambling industry had to rely on locals as the only source of income, as regional borders stayed closed until this Wednesday. Furthermore, Macau casinos also have to adhere to certain social distancing measures, such as the 50% reduced capacity. It’s needless to say that the limited number of gamblers has caused a gigantic loss in profits.

In 2019, Macau casinos saw nearly 110,000 visitors a day on average. During the 2020 pandemic, that number was more than ten times lower. Last week, for example, it’s estimated that the total number of casino visitors in the whole of Macau was below 50,000.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Macau’s GGR Takes a Tumble in November, 7th Time in 2019

Gross gaming revenue in Macau dropped for the seventh time in 2019 in November, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau revealed, posting the latest results.

Macau’s GGR Drops in November for 7th Month in 2019

Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) took an 8.5% tumble year-over-year in November, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported. The regulator specified that the amount generated by the industry was $2.84 billion stood at November.

Previously, revenue dropped in August when it shrunk by 8.6%. This coincided with analyst forecasts who had been expecting Macau to take hits, occasioned by over-regulation, investigations in Australia, and a simmering trade war between the United States and China.

JP Morgan, an investment bank, said that the contraction was expected, but also better than original forecasts. The daily revenue amounted to nearly $88 million a day, the bank confirmed.

The VIP segment was also affected, registering a 13% drop in overall performance. More importantly, Macau posted a year in which the months of declining revenue exceeded those of positive growth. November was the seventh such month in 2019.

Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd, a brokerage firm with focus on Macau’s gaming sector, also confirmed the numbers, from falling VIP revenue to overall daily handle. A tightening VISA control from the mainland has also been an issue, as Chinese authorities are now more scrupulous about mainland visitors in Macau.

Meanwhile, brokerage Nomura, suggested that December may bring a modest growth for the gaming hub:

“Assuming December GGR increases sequentially in line with its trailing seven-year median, or up roughly 5 to 6 percent versus November, we estimate GGR for the month should settle around MOP24 billion,” said the institution.”

While Macau has a relative freedom to run its business as it sees fit, mainland China still has a big say in what happens. China President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Macau on December 20, marking the official handover of Macau back to China. Analysts predict that this would curb the growth of GGR in December.

Macau Claims $12bn in Taxes until October

While challenges continue, Macau claimed $11.7 billion in tax revenue from the casino gaming sector in the first 10 months of 2019. Despite several months of drops in the overall GGR, Macau generated 0.4% more handle over the period.

Despite the fairly strong results, Macau’s government has pursued a policy of exclusion whereby gambling revenue is never factored as a reliable source of tying up expenditures for the public purse.

Income is duly redistributed, however. Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong has recently said that Macau will focus on protecting public interest above all else.

Having just stepped into his position, the Secretary is committed to optimizing a number of matters related to the gaming industry in Macau, including the existing gaming concession contracts.

While no details about the future of Macau’s gaming have been revealed, it’s certain that management will be introducing changes.

George Hansen

Taking a liking to the occasional bout of slots, George used to moonlight as a roulette dealer, giving him a unique perspective into the casino world. From there he continued his journalist education and has been with us ever since a star-aligned graduation brought him and our team together.

Macau’s Casinos to Introduce More Facial Recognition

  • Macau to oversee facial recognition tech
  • China reportedly scooping up private data
  • More regulations needs for the proper use of the tech

Macau’s casino operators are becoming more serious about leveraging facial recognition tech to ensure customer safety. The measure may be backfiring as there have been reports of the misuse of the data to identify vulnerable customers and collect private data.

Macau Casinos’ Test Facial Recognition Tech

Macau is stepping up its efforts to better protect customers by introducing a series of technologically advanced measures, including facial recognition technologies. The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has confirmed that operators in one of Asia’s largest gaming huts have been leveraging the technology to ensure the safety of customers.

Yet, the technology is not as pervasive as Luddites may think. According to DICJ, the regulator’s acronym, all tests were in a stage of preliminary testing and a full-scale implementation would take a while.

At the same time, strict rules for the use of the technology have begun to emerge. For example, casinos cannot use these technologies for anything but monitoring their properties and ensuring the security on the premises of the casinos. Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International are already utilizing facial recognition whereas other big brands are in the process of negotiating with suppliers.

The Dangers of Face Recognition in Macau’s Casinos

New technologies will be coming to the fore in other important areas of casino operation as well, including anti-money laundering and know your customer (KYC) practices. The technology shouldn’t be leveraged to give casinos an edge, for example, as a recent Bloomberg article revealed.

According to the article, Chinese operators have been using facial recognition to identify the gamers that are the most prone to risk and targetting them specifically. Such misuse of technology underpins what the dangers lack of basic ethnic guidelines bring around with itself.

It’s not that such mismanagement practices are happening just in Macau. China may be exporting data outside the country via the so-called “data cloud” whereby data is breached and exported back to the mainland. This is in violation with Macau’s data protection policy. Then again, China is the overlord that sanctions gambling in its back yard.

The push to introduce better technologies ensuring the safety of customers has been a long-term goal of operators in Macau and a move approved and welcomed by Mui San Meng, assistant to the Commissioner-General of the Unitary Police Service.

Meanwhile, the Macau Gaming Bureau released a statement on Friday, June 28, saying that it had begun looking into a framework for authorizing the use of such technologies at a mass scale in Macau.

The Bureau also explained that any installation of surveillance technologies in casinos needs to be pre-approved by the regulator and given green light to. This ensures a stricter control over how surveillance tech and facial recognition is used.

Still, the Bureau didn’t comment on whether China has been syphoning off personal data and whether casinos have been targetting more susceptible gamblers to squeeze out better profit.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Wynn Successful Sues Fund Manager over Owed Money

  • Wynn Macau successfully wins case for $4.3 million in Malaysia
  • The guilty party will have to pay out the owed money, plus interest
  • Meanwhile Wynn and Genting are getting closer to a court battle due to begin on January 29

Wynn Macau Ltd. has successfully concluded a court case against a fund manager who owed the company money. The guilty party had been paid in the form of a credit, which Wynn has now successfully recuperated in court.

Wynn Settles Legal Challenge in Malaysia

In a rare turn of events, Wynn Macau Ltd. managed to win a court case against an individual, identified as Paul Poh Yang Hong, who owed the company money in the form of a line of credit. Based on the active legislation in the country, gambling contracts are not legally binding, and this is precisely what made the case interesting.

However, Wynn specified that it wasn’t looking to collect gaming proceedings, but rather – honor a credit agreement, which proved to be the winning argument in court. The sum of the contract was substantial with the individual previously requesting HKD40 million credit from Wynn, which was granted.

Since then, the fund manager had still to honor HKD33 million in due payments, prompting Wynn Macau Ltd to launch a lawsuit in 2017. The news was also reported by Reuters, which fleshed out details of the case.

Judge S. Nantha Balan from the Kuala Lumpur court has ruled that Poh will have to pay the outstanding amount to Wynn Macau, plus interest.

The decision is not final as Poh can still appeal, although Wynn’s attorney Vincent Law believes that the case constituted an important victory for the gaming industry.

Malaysia and Wynn, Tied into a Legal Pickle

Interestingly enough Wynn’s U.S. subsidiary, Wynn Resorts Ltd. is tied up with Malaysia in another way. Last year, Wynn filed a complaint against Malaysia-based Genting Berhad over a property built at the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Genting Denies Wynn Copyright Claims, Prepares for Court

According to the complaint, Genting was intentionally copying Wynn and Encore Towers’ design in a bid to syphon off customers from its own property. Genting has since dismissed the statement, issuing their official statement at the end of 2018.

Moving into 2019, none of the parties has seemed prepared to relent. Genting’s World Resorts Las Vegas is estimated at $4 billion, making a hiatus or cacellation of construction work not an option.

Meanwhile, Wynn continues to maintain that the claims made in its unlawful competition lawsuit dated December 21 very much apply. However, Genting has since said that the allegations were “baseless”.

Here’s what Genting SVP PR and Development Michael Levoff had to say, cited by Review Journal:

Genting (Resorts World’s parent company) remains confident that once all of the relevant facts are presented the company will defeat Wynn’s baseless claims.

The two parties are expected to meet in court in Nevada on January 29. In so many ways, Wynn continues to be legally bound to Malaysia, and not always in a good way.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.