21 James Murren
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
MGM Resorts International
CHAIRPERSON AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
MGM China Holdings Ltd
POWER SCORE: 1,202
POSITION LAST YEAR: 19
CLAIMS TO FAME
Chairman of the world’s second largest casino company
Credited with keeping MGM Resorts afloat during the GFC
It’s been a big year for MGM Resorts boss Jim Murren. On the domestic front, his company has been among the most active in pursuing sports betting opportunities following the US Supreme Court’s striking down of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), cutting deals with the National Hockey League, Boyd Gaming and GVC among others as well as acquiring Empire City Casino in New York and Rocksino in Ohio.
Internationally, the company launched in February what will surely become MGM’s single most valuable asset – MGM COTAI in Macau.
With the money flowing through Asia’s gaming epicenter continuing to dwarf every other jurisdiction on the planet, the US$3.2 billion integrated resort allows MGM to claim back some market share as the balance of power increasingly shifts to Cotai.
Although it is still early days for MGM COTAI, its first nine months of operation have at least boosted the company’s bottom line to a reasonable extent. Compared to 3Q17 when MGM remained its only Macau location, MGM China saw net revenue for the three months to 30 September 2018 jump 37% to HK$4.8 billion (US$606 million), of which MGM COTAI contributed HK$1.3 billion.
However, Union Gaming’s Grant Govertsen has pegged 2020 as the year MGM COTAI fully realizes its potential given the property has only recently started welcoming junkets and is still to open its President’s Club premium mass facility and Mansions VIP hideaway.
“Simply put, without the full complement of high-end product, MGM Cotai will continue to under-perform the new-to-market peer group,” Govertsen says. “Given our more cautious outlook on Macau in general over the next 12 months, as well as significant competitive challenges (Morpheus, numerous SCL projects), we are substantially lowering our estimates for MGM Cotai and now forecast approximately US$205mm in EBITDA next year, which puts it broadly in line with the ramp trajectory at Studio City.”
On a brighter note, Govertsen suggests that “with the recent changes at City of Dreams, a strong-performing Wynn Palace, the still-new MGM COTAI and the upcoming Grand Lisboa Palace, the east side of Cotai has the freshest product and all the properties on ‘millionaires row’ should form their own center of gravity.”
Given Murren’s track record, including negotiating the deal with Pansy Ho that saw MGM Resorts become majority stakeholder in MGM China in 2011, he deserves plenty of credit for finally getting this key Macau property up and running.
For the full list of 2018 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.