Ponto Final: Government's expectations for casino operators do not make sense

https://macaudailytimes.com.mo/oliveira-says-macau-has-high-autonomy-when-it-comes-to-gaming-policy.html



Ponto Final

9 Sep 2022

Analysts consider that the Government's expectations for casino operators do not make sense


Jorge Costa Oliveira, founder and director of JCO Consultancy, Vitaly Umansky, director and senior analyst at AB Bernstein, and Alidad Tash, director of 2NT8, were invited by the French-Macau Chamber of Commerce (FMCC) to comment on the public tender for the license game that is in progress. The three gaming experts consider the authorities' expectations for the new holders of upcoming gaming licenses unrealistic.

In a videoconference organized by the France-Macau Chamber of Commerce (FMCC) and Macau Business held yesterday entitled “Macau Gaming at Crossroads: The Public Tender and Beyond”, the three invited analysts considered that the requests made by the Government to the new concessionaires “do not make sense”.


The 48-day public tender for the allocation of gaming licenses ends next Wednesday. The authorities demand that the new concessionaires bet on non-gaming elements and on attracting foreign players, in order to favor the diversified development of the city. Jorge Costa Oliveira, founder and director of JCO Consultancy, says that “it makes no sense” for the Government to transfer its responsibility to the concessionaires.


It is recalled that the companies holding the upcoming gaming licenses in Macau must dedicate themselves to 11 projects, including increasing international tourism, promoting art and culture, hosting major sporting events or developing health and maritime tourism.


“Casino operators operate casinos and pay a large amount of taxes. With this high level of supervision, the authorities should be responsible for the development of Macau. The Government should define the strategies and policies to deal with public infrastructures”, says the specialist in the gaming sector, indicating that “the Government does not want to do its job”. “The development of the city depends on the proposals made by the operators of casinos in areas that have little correlation”, he continued.


Vitaly Umansky, director and senior analyst at AB Bernstein, recalls that, in the last two decades, the non-gaming elements that were developed by casino operators were due to the intention of maximizing profits in a gaming monopoly and attracting high-end customers. value to the city.


In response to the fact that the Government's focus in the current gaming licensing process has been to expand the sphere of non-gaming elements with an amplified definition, Umansky is adamant: “It's unrealistic, it's not going to happen. Casino operators aren't going to build all these things, and a lot of these things don't make any sense.”


The American analyst cites the example of Las Vagas when it comes to non-gaming amenities. “We can’t just see how [the casinos in Las Vagas] have so many non-gaming amenities, but how they suggest them,” says Umansky, adding that “[non-gaming amenities] came about through a partnership between the Government and various entrepreneurs who understood the change that is taking place and decided to effectively build over time not only a gaming destination, but also a destination that serves congress, conference and event tourism”.


The specialist in the gaming sector also considers that there is still a long way to go for the territory to reach this model due to the Government's incompetence and insufficient installations, much less if they are made only by the six concessionaires. “The notion that somehow Macau will transform itself into an international gambling destination is unrealistic in the short or medium term, perhaps also in the long term, unless Macau's infrastructure and economy are completely transformed, which will not be a a two- or three-year process,” Umansky said.


UNFRIENDLY TO PEOPLE'S MOBILITY

For the director of 2NT8, Alidad Tash, the unfriendly visa policy that is associated with the hostility of the Chinese authorities against gambling activities has created a great barrier for casino operators to dedicate themselves to the MICE sector (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions ).


The head of the consulting firm specializing in gambling and hospitality also highlights that it is important for the authorities to open the door to the entry of foreigners instead of continuing to expel them. “Everything is ridiculous. It doesn't seem possible to ask cooks to prepare dishes without giving them the ingredients.”


The two North American analysts point out that the lack of human resources is Macau's biggest constraint. The city has had difficulty securing technical-professional staff with experience in different areas and hiring low-level workers at a reasonable cost from another jurisdiction. Tash confesses that it can be difficult for casinos in the territory to capture the attention of foreign gamblers with exclusively Macau resident croupiers who are uneducated and speak no language other than Chinese.