Macau’s casino business could makes its way elsewhere over the next decade after the government reiterated its stance on limiting table growth. Secretary for economy and finance, Francis Tam Pak Yuen, confirmed that the enclave’s government wouldn’t be loosening the 5,500-cap on live gaming tables. The agreement expires in 2013 and leaves room for only 121 tables over the next two years. Tam stated, “We said last year that the number of gaming tables will be maintained at 5,500 [until 2013]. It is still our goal to maintain that number and we are still on target.”
The comments don’t defeat the idea that it might be extended. Saying they are “still on target” leaves room for maneuver and if they see other nations capitalizing, it could be the signal to up their game and allow more tables. Under the current plan, table growth is limited to 3% each year. It means that further to the 121 tables that are up for grabs before 2013’s deadline there will be 165 allowed in the year following that and only small increases on that in the year’s following. Sands China has two casinos slated to open in 2012 and sweating is an understatement. Although we’re pretty sure if you’ve got a table you could get a hefty sum on eBay for it right now. They are rare after all.
Ultimately, the number of tables decreasing will drive operators elsewhere and once more markets open up around the Chinese coastline, it’s only a matter of time before Macau loses its luster. For now, it’s the market leader and will stay that way for some time. The thing about being the market leader in the world’s largest market is that within reason you can stick your finger up at any question. They might want to start thinking of a better solution at some point soon. Up until now they’ve done quite the job in regulating and this could all be part of the master plan.