Macau casino workers, mass market thriving; free drinks if you dress like PSY

TAGs: casino dealers, city of dreams, Macau

macau-city-of-dreams-psyMGM China CEO Grant Bowie, who has reportedly removed himself from the running to replace Larry Mullin as the new CEO of Aussie casino firm Echo Entertainment, has said that MGM’s new casino resort on Macau’s Cotai strip will eventually require 8k people to run it. By happy coincidence, that’s how many vocational students take the casino dealer course at the Macau Polytechnic Institute every year. Students assemble in the ‘the biggest mock casino in Asia’ at the Institute’s Gaming Teaching and Research Center, where they learn the rules of the games and hone their computational speed. We like to think the final exam consists of being able to duck out of the way of a cocktail glass that a whale just hurled at your head for failing to give him the card he needed.

Wages from casino jobs are two-thirds above the enclave’s median monthly income, leading more and more students – including university graduates – to consider casino work as a viable career path. Some traditionalists aren’t sure having 23k dealers living in Macau is good for society. Political commentator Larry So told the Associated Press that “in the past… in Chinese culture, we did not look up to this kind of people.” Maybe, but you also can’t look up to find Macau’s unemployment figure, which sits at a lowly 2%. There’s a silver lining here, Larry, and it’s positively gold…

Macau’s remarkable run of economic good fortune is increasingly being sustained by the mass market segment, as a glance at any operator’s recent earnings will attest. Need further proof? Macau’s Statistics and Census Service says total package tour visitor arrivals in September rose 21.9% to 750k. Package visitors from the mainland were up 23.7% to 538k, Taiwan sent 70k (+50.8%) and Singapore sent 35k (+33.9%). For the year-to-date, package tour visitors are up 24.5% to 6.57m, good for 31.5% of total arrivals.

Even more impressive, less of Macau’s visitors are coming strictly to gamble. According to the Institute for Tourism Studies, 12.7% of Macau’s visitors came primarily to gamble in 2010, but that number fell to 8.2% last year. Now, in Q2 and Q3 2012, the figures were 7.1% and 7.2% respectively. The news that just 4.6% of first-time visitors said they came primarily to gamble will be music to the ears of the Macau politicians who have been preaching the gospel of entertainment diversification.

As if on cue, Melco Crown Entertainment’s City of Dreams, the joint where water dances, is bringing K-pop megastar PSY and his Gangnam Style (which we believe is Korean for ‘Macarena’) to its Club CUBIC on Thursday, Nov. 29. Tickets are HK$650 (US $84), which isn’t bad, considering you get two free drinks. However, ticket holders “dressed in Gangnam Style” will get an extra free drink. (How insulting… my dignity is worth at least two extra drinks.) You can also win tickets by uploading a 10-second video of your own Gangnam Style moves to the City of Dreams’ Facebook page, and we humbly suggest you drink an awful lot beforehand. Here’s the lyrics so you can practice…


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