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2017 Inside Asian Gaming Power 50: Number 13 - Grant Bowie

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 14:23
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13 Grant Bowie

MGM China Holdings



• The ranking Macau-based Westerner working in the industry
• Strong track record in the mass market sector
• Oversaw opening of Wynn Macau in 2006

For MGM China’s head honcho, it must have felt at times like 2017 would never end. With all but one of the company’s fellow concessionaires having now opened their Cotai resorts and reaping the benefits of Macau’s gaming industry recovery, MGM instead spent the year racing the clock to complete its own US$3.4 billion project, MGM Cotai.

In the end that race was lost – due in part to the devastating Typhoon Hato that struck Macau on 23 August causing significant damage to the construction site – with MGM forced to delay the opening date until January 2018.

The knock-on effect for MGM China is that it has spent much of 2017 losing market share, with gross gaming revenue actually declining by 0.4% year-on-year in the second quarter and by 5% in the third quarter – all while those with a Cotai presence enjoyed significant inclines.

As Macau-based analyst Grant Govertsen from Union Gaming wrote at the time, “MGM China needs new hardware in order to compete with a much more discerning customer set that, more than ever, are calling their own shots. As a result, we’re seeing VIP customers generally flocking to either the newest product or newly built spaces within existing properties. As has been the case for multiple quarters, the operating environment on the Macau peninsula remains challenged and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. MGM Cotai will be a game-changer for the company, but until then we don’t expect the company’s peninsula property to notably participate in the ongoing market recovery.”

Nevertheless, the world is anxiously waiting to see what MGM has come up with once MGM Cotai opens on 29 January given the company’s history of innovation and penchant for punching above its weight – even with just 582 rooms to work with at its peninsula property.

Bowie has been the driving force behind that success, backed by MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren and MGM China Executive Director Pansy Ho.

The 59-year-old has long been considered the highest-ranking Westerner in Macau’s casino industry and boasts a strong pedigree, having previous worked as an Adjunct Professor in Tourism and Leisure Management at the University of Queensland before spending five years as President of Wynn Macau – overseeing Wynn’s opening in September 2006 before joining MGM China in 2008.

That track record makes the promise of MGM Cotai – which will almost quadruple the company’s room inventory overnight – all the more intriguing.

To return to the full list of 2017 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.

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