Leading academics on Macau’s gaming industry have called for the creation of exclusive gaming zones providing different and specialized experiences for players as a possible way of attracting more foreign visitors.
The director of the University of Macau’s Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming, Davis Fong Ka Chio, and the President of the Macau Responsible Gaming Association, Song Wai Kit, appeared on Radio Macau on Wednesday where they were asked about the development of Macau’s gaming industry and their suggestions for attracting foreign tourists.
Attracting more foreign tourists is a key element of the Macau Government’s re-tendering guidelines for casino concessions, with tax breaks dangled as a lure for those who can do so successfully in future. However, questions remain over the feasibility of such a plan given the prominence of visitation from mainland China and Hong Kong.
Fong said that in 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Macau had around 3 million foreign visitors per year – mainly from Korea, Japan and some Southeast Asian countries – of the nearly 40 million visitors in total.
“I think Macau’s existing gaming facilities can attract foreign visitors, but the gaming elements can be improved in the future,” he said. “Different ways of playing can be added to the gaming facilities or a dedicated gaming area for foreign visitors to give them a sense of privilege.”
On the issue of foreign visitors, Song believes that the language skills of gaming employees should be strengthened.
“The company’s staff needs to focus on strengthening their multilingual skills and to provide services that cater to visitors of different nationalities,” he said.
The academics were asked whether Macau should consider introducing an entry fee or levy on local gamblers, however both agreed that this would not work as it was likely to increase the gambling time of patrons and have an adverse effect.
They also agreed that all seven bidders competing for up to six Macau gaming concessions – the current six concessionaires plus Genting Malaysia – are competitive, suggesting that Macau is still attractive – a positive development for the industry.