When Macau government official Francis Tam announced that table game growth in the SAR would continue to be controlled after the current cap of 5,500 tables expires in 2013, some gaming companies were concerned. Tam said table games would not be allowed to increase more than 3 percent per year during the subsequent 10-year period, putting pressures on companies expecting to open properties in 2014 and beyond.
Last month, the Portuguese-language Jornal Tribuna de Macau said the cap would not be strictly enforced on a year-to-year basis, but would take into account the total number of additional tables estimated for that next decade, and allow a front-loaded number of tables to be installed early in that period.
Several casino companies have scheduled construction of gaming resorts that were approved as far back as 2008, but may have been stymied with a strict 3 percent growth rate. The report indicates that these casinos can remain on schedule and the number of tables would be calculated by considering the total number.
Two casinos are opening in 2012— both connected to Sands China’s Cotai Central project, which should fit under the 2013 cap of 5,500 tables. Things get a little more tight as the next generation of casinos begins to open in 2014, with Wynn Resorts’ Cotai development, Melco Crown’s Studio City, and at least two more resorts owned by SJM and MGM Macau. It’s expected that Galaxy Entertainment will also add more resorts to its Galaxy Macau site, which has room for several more casinos.
At the same time, the status of electronic table games has been called into question. When Tam announced the limits on table-game growth beyond 2013, he said ETGs would be considered in the same pot as live table games. The statement seems to contradict the reporting by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, which reports revenues from ETGs as slot revenue, where there are no limits on devices.