IAG JANUARY 2016 web - page 4

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EDITORIAL
StevenRibet
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Macauat theCrossroads
S
everalweeks agoonmy first Saturday inMacau I went to see Lion’sBar; thenightclub
insideMGMMacau. Guidebooks said it had best livemusic in town. I don’t think the
guidebooks were wrong. The American resident band there were the best I’ve come
across in Asia, by virtue of their timing and sheer gloriousmusicianship. Yet strangely
nobody was dancing. At odds with the casino outside, which was still bustling at a little after
midnight, Lion’sBarwasmoreor less empty.
The next day I recountedmy curious experience to a colleague. “If this were Las Vegas that
placewouldhavebeen jumping,” I said. “Youhave tounderstand,”he replied. “LasVegas isaparty
town. Peopleonly come toMacau togamble.”
Becomingmore like LasVegas is the foremost challenge facingMacau as it enters 2016. GGR
fell by a third last year amid a slowing mainland economy and President Xi Jinping’s ongoing
anti-corruption drive. Income from the VIP segment meanwhile, has slumped by around a half.
Industry leadershoping thegovernment isgoing tohelp themwitha relaxationof gamblingpolicy
are going to be disappointed. In a statement made on December 20’s anniversary of Macau’s
1999 return to China, Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On repeated President Xi’s demands
for diversification.More income, he statedplainly,must be generated fromnon-gaming services.
Less than 10% ofMacau casino revenue comes from such services, comparedwithwell over
half in Las Vegas. Time and again, American entertainment models transplanted from across
the Pacific have failed. The way forwardmust be innovation. New forms of attraction have to be
developed to satisfy the tastes of Chinese and entice them, where the rock ’n roll in Lion’s Bar
appears tobe failing. In spiteof today’sdownturn, the rewards for hittingonwinning formulasare
potentially huge. Demand for leisure services from across the border continues to soar. Experts
say around96percent of Chinesehave yet to visitMacau. Andproducingnon-gaming assetswill
be viewed kindly by theMacaugovernment.
I have lived, studied and reported in Greater China for two decades; inHong Kong, Beijing,
Shanghai andmost recentlyTaipei. Inmynewappointment as IAG’sManagingEditor I’m looking
forward to reporting on the progress of Macau as the nation’s premier leisure destination. I will
use the resourcesmade available byWorldGamingGroup’s acquisition of themagazine to build
relationshipswith industrymembers, expandcoverage in thedigital domainandcontinuebringing
our readers the inside story.
BeyondMacau, IAGwill continue to lead reporting on gaming across the continent, whether
from developed economies such as Australia and Singapore, or fast-paced rising markets like
Russia and Cambodia. We will also keep our readers up to date with the newest events in online
gamingwithour iGamingBluePages section.
Big editions to look forward to in 2016will bewidely distributed at ICE in London inFebruary,
G2EAsia inMacau inMay, G2E in Las Vegas in September and theMacauGaming Show (MGS)
inNovember. IAGwill be attending all four. And September will see the 9th year running of our
signature “Big 50” issue, profiling themost influential figures inAsian gaming and serving as the
definitive industryWho’sWho.
Iwould like toextendmy thanks toKareem Jalal,who founded IAGandbuilt it into the region’s
leading sourceof industrynewsandWGGCEOAndrewWScott,who for thepast twomonthshas
served as interim editor.
With Macau at the crossroads, yet facing a future of almost boundless possibility, it’s an
incredibly exciting time tobe comingonboard.
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