Inside Asian Gaming

GAMING | March 2008 6 Cover Story I nside Asian Gaming is tired of hearing Macau called“Vegas on steroids.” Casino operators—armed with over US$20 billion in investment—are on a mission to transform the erstwhile hardcore day-trip gambling getaway into a diversified tourism and entertainment hub in the Vegas mould. Pundits predict they could replicate in five to ten years what took fifty years to create in Vegas. Macau may have left the Vegas Strip far behind in terms of casino revenue, but beyond hosting a few conventions at Venetian Macao, has yet to accomplish anything significant in the non-gaming realm—sporting and musical spectacles characterised by logistical problems and/or lacklustre attendance do not count. Analysts’ overly-aggressive forecasts have already led to disappointment and a sharp correction in the prices of US gaming companies with Macau exposure. It is a pity the analysts did not look to the evolution of Macau’s nascent slot market to predict how a completely new market could take root in the city—showing explosive growth in percentage terms, but against a near-zero base, so that the initial absolute gains might scarcely match one of those analysts’ annual bonuses. A well- cultivated new market showing explosive percentage growth will eventually grow into something formidable, however, such as the entertainment market in Vegas. It just takes time. When Venetian Macao’s results for the fourth quarter of 2007—the first full quarter of operation—were announced, analysts accused the property of failing to “live up to the hype.” It probably will not take as long as fifty years for significant retail and entertainment revenues to emerge in Moving With Mocha Macau’s slot market is evolving fast, and the shifting trends are best observed at the city’s Mocha’s personal service and responsiveness to players’ needs enables to it outperform the market by a wide margin, despite intensifying competition from glitzy new casino resorts