IAG March 2015 - page 6

inside
asiangaming
March2015
6
ComingofAge
At the turnof themillennium, few
imaginedhow influential Chinese
consumerswould soonbecome
inglobalmarkets ranging from
natural resources to luxurygoods.
Or that they’dbecomeby far the
most coveted customers of the
world’s casino resort developers,
forwhom catering to the rapidly
evolving tastes of China’s rising
middle class—andespecially the
sophisticatedyounger cohort
within it—will be critical to
success. Fortunately,Macau’s
developers appear headed in the
right direction
Cover Story
I
t’s become
de rigueur
for Macau’s casino operators to
trumpet the extensive non-gaming attractions at their
upcomingCotai resorts.
One reason for doing so is to publicly make a case for a
generous allocation of gaming tables from the government,
whichhasofficiallycappedannualmarket-widegrowth in thenumber
of tables at 3%. Assuming the cap is enforced, the resorts scheduled
toopenbetweennowand2017will get substantially fewer tables than
their operators arehoping for.
Melco Crown’s US$2.3 billion Studio City Macau, set to open
mid-year, was built “with a capacity for 500 gaming tables,”
according to the company’s co-chairman, Lawrence Ho, speaking
at amedia preview event for the resort in January. “But the truth of
thematter is I have no idea howmany tables we are going to get.
That makes our faith in this market, and in the government, even
more spectacular.”
Noting thegovernment’spolicy of basing the allocationof tables
to each operator on how much they have invested in non-gaming
amenities, Mr Ho stressed that only 5% of Studio City’s completed
space would be devoted to gambling. He added, however, that “In
order to invest innon-gamingwe need financing from gaming,” and
said the company “hoped” Studio City will be granted as many as
400 tableswhen it opens. Thatmay be toooptimistic.
ATTRACTINGTHEMIDDLE-CLASSMASS
There’s more to the non-gaming mantra than table allocations,
though. The operators have recognized their businesses will
increasingly depend on the strength of their non-gaming offerings,
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