The government of Macau is not backing down on its policy of capping the number of casino tables allowed in the city state.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong VaiTac met with representatives of Wynn Macau and the chief of Macau’s gaming regulator last Sunday to discuss the issue, GGRAsia reported. During the meeting, Leong said the government is “firmly” standing by its cap, which limits the total number of tables to 3 percent compound annual expansion until 2022.
“Those policies cannot be changed on a whim,” Leong said, according to the report, quoting a government press release.
Last week, Steve Wynn lambasted Macau officials and their “rather mystical policies” that had become a major issue for casino operators. In an analyst call for Wynn Resorts Q3 earnings report last Thursday, he said the city state’s table cap was the “single most counterintuitive and irrational decision ever made,” which will only “undermine and scuttle” the gambling industry.
It’s still all-systems go for the $4-billion Wynn Palace’s March 25 opening, but Steve said much of the planning remains “a guessing game” because they still don’t know how many gaming tables the property will be allocated, which has also “turned human resources planning inside out and upside down.”
The Macau government said it has several factors to take into consideration before deciding on the table allocation, including the non-gaming components of the new projects on Cotai and the partnerships between the operators and the local small- and medium-sized businesses.
Steve said Wynn Resorts had already invested $4 billion into non-gaming amenities at the request of the government, but he stressed that without a sufficient level of gaming options available, some of the non-gaming amenities would have to close, resulting in “dire consequences in the community.”
Melco Crown Entertainment recently got an idea on how tables it will receive in time for the opening of its Studio City resort on Oct. 27—150 tables. The casino operator had expected 400 or more new tables, but the government refused to budge, prompting Melco CEO Lawrence Ho to announce that his company is rethinking its future commitment to non-gaming amenities if it didn’t get a sufficient number of new tables.