The new MGM Cotai resort in Macau promises to be one of the gems of that region. With amenities specifically designed for the Chinese customer, Grant Bowie, the president and CEO of MGM China, is taking the knowledge accumulated at the MGM Macau location and transferring it to Cotai. While Bowie believes change has been endemic in Macau since the launch of expanded gaming, he’s confident the SAR will be able to surmount the recent issues and evolve into something new and better.
What do you believe is the principal reason for the decline in gross gaming revenues in Macau?
I think there’s a combination of reasons. The last two years we’ve seen astronomical growth and we all knew at some time the growth would slow. There’s no question that the transformation of China, both in economic terms and government oversight, is all having an impact on consumer confidence.
Will MGM be able to replace VIP revenues with mass/premium mass business?
We’re starting to see that. The future growth in Macau gaming is quite clearly going to come from the mass market. And for us, that’s been our objective since we opened here. But we also understand that you have to respond and adjust to market conditions at all times. We all need to push harder to build our mass business.
Do you believe the regulatory regime in Macau will become more stringent?
It’s been happening all along for us. The U.S. operators that came into Macau have seen that level of oversight. It’s a slightly different approach than Western regulations, but from our perspective, we run a global compliance strategy, so we do exactly the same in Macau as we would do anywhere.
How much has the general decline in the Chinese economy impacted Macau?
With the changes in China, the first thing you always look at is consumer confidence. Because of the significant change that is taking place, the consumers, to a degree, are sitting on the sidelines, trying to work out where they fit into the future. A lot of our customers are private businessmen in China, so they are having to invest lots of time and money into their own business, not leaving much for recreation.
Are you confident that you’ll get the allotment of table games you expect?
We’re confident that we’ll be able to gain the right number of tables and we’ll be able to operate successfully and effectively. Clearly, we’ve made an application to the government and asked for a specific number of tables. We need to pay attention to how the market is tracking, and I think we will get the tables we require, but it’s very unclear how that’s going to happen. We’ll look at our total gaming capacity and decide how to effectively deploy all of our assets.