Macau has a good thing going on with their local gambling industry, and they aren’t about to change that. A new publication from the Hong Kong-based Steve Vickers and Associates Ltd, the 2019 Risk Assessment Report, finds that the local government would “not want to destabilise” the sector.
The changes the report expects to see in 2019 all resolve around the rocky relationship between the U.S. and China. The current trade war between the two countries has no end in sight, and to keep the favor of its big cousin China, Macau might make moves to diminish American presence in the gambling industry in the city state. They suspect Macau could “dilute U.S. casinos’ sectoral dominance, not least given the links between the gaming tycoons and the Republican Party.”
At the moment, half of Macau’s licensees are majority-owned by U.S. companies. Current licenses are due to expire in the next one to three years. The report speculates that the concessions will all be extended to 2022 so they can be dealt with all at once.
This isn’t just fear-mongering for American investors. Ho lat Seng, currently president of the Legislative Assembly and front-runner for Chief Executive, is known to be close to China and the report suggests he could fight for a shift away from the American licensees.
Otherwise, Macau is doing fantastic. As many as 2,000 new hotel rooms are being built every year, revenue continues to grow and they don’t expect it to stop, and the new bridge is bringing in plenty of new tourists. With a new train line on the way and upgrades also planned for the airport, growth should be a constant.
With many of their new guests coming from mainline China, it does make senses that they might want to distance themselves from American operators, but not upset the apple cart too much.