Macau VIP slots operator says junkets can shift customer preference for baccarat

jimei-casino-macau-vip-slotsThe CEO of leading Macau casino junket operator Jimei International Entertainment Group has resigned his executive and board positions.

In a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Jimei said ‘Kennis’ Wong Kwok Leung had stepped down from his CEO role effective Monday. Wong also resigned from his seat on the company’s board, although he will remain a director of several unnamed Jimei subsidiaries.

Jimei said Wong had left due to his “other business engagements” and that the company doesn’t intend to appoint an interim replacement. Existing management will handle the chief executive responsibilities until a permanent replacement can be identified.

The Jimei Casino in Macau is the home of the special administrative region’s first junket-run VIP slots room, which launched in January but has reportedly struggled to attract a significant clientele. The Grand Prize VIP Club, which features 111 slots provided by device maker Aristocrat, requires players to wager a minimum of HKD 100k (US $12,900) per visit.

The room’s allegedly sluggish start doesn’t appear to bother operator Zhang Zheng, who told Macau Business Daily that “two or three gaming operators have shown interest” in opening their own VIP slots rooms and that he expects to be operating three more parlors in Macau before the year is through.

While Macau is renowned for its emphasis on high-volume baccarat, Zhang believes there is a “huge potential for [slots play] to be developed.” Slots currently account for around HKD 15b ($1.9b) of Macau’s annual gaming revenue but Zhang insists this figure could be boosted “as high as HKD 125b per year.”

Slots offer certain benefits over baccarat, including the speed of play, which allows for more wagers per hour than a hand-dealt card game. Zhang also believes that the ability of a small slots stake to win a major jackpot gives the machines another edge over baccarat.

Zhang said part of the reason that baccarat dominates Macau casino activity is because junket operators have traditionally steered players to the game. Zhang insists that “the preference for a certain game is dominated by junkets, not necessarily by the customer.”

Zhang said he knows “a lot of gamblers that have a passion for slots,” but who play baccarat because the junkets allow them to play on credit. Zhang claims these gamblers see baccarat as a means to earning enough money to fund their slots play.