Macau’s gambling scene continues its unpopular streak with locals

Posted: April 28, 2022, 5:39 a.m.

Last update: April 28, 2022, 6:17 a.m.

Macau relies heavily on gambling and casinos for its economic support. However, an industry expert points out that relying on local traffic is increasingly a thing of the past.

MGM Cotai
MGM Macau in Cotai, seen above. It and other casinos in town are still popular with foreigners, but not locals. (Image: cultural trip)

The Chinese SAR has built its landscape around The Venetian, Sands Macao and City of Dreams. Historically, the area has been popular with locals, but that is changing and local residents no longer visit the arcades.

The director of the Institute for the Study of Macau Commercial Gambling at the University of Macau, Davis Fong Ka Chio, points to a significant drop in local gambling. Fong points to a recent survey that showed the segment fell from 67% to 40% last year.

Fong relied on a recent survey to formulate his conclusion. The result shows a shift in the interests of locals, with more residents seeking other forms of entertainment than gambling.

Down game problem

The survey also showed that the number of drug addicts is decreasing. Previously, the dependency rate was around 6%, according to Fong. Today, however, it is only 0.8%.

Declining interest in the game contributed to this decline. But Macau has also stepped up its efforts to tackle problem gambling. There are 59 so-called responsible gambling information stations across the city that provide relief. These centers provide customers with information on responsible gambling and gambling addiction.

Over the past decade, more than 110,000 people have used the service.

Revenue results

The gaming expert added that Macau has the potential to see a rebound in gaming revenue soon, although it won’t be easy. He said the city needs, on average, about 20,000 to 30,000 people to visit each day over the next few months for gaming revenue to reach last year’s numbers.

It’s a viable concept but it depends on mitigating factors. The Macau Government Tourism Office recently reported that the average number of daily arrivals is around 22,000. However, continued momentum depends on travel restrictions between Macau, Hong Kong and China.

The ongoing battle against COVID-19 continues to impact casino revenue. Without significant improvements, achieving Fong’s estimated goal will be difficult.

No fallout from removing satellites

The good news for Macau’s gambling revenue is that the continued release of satellite casinos will not be a problem. Fong does not see the deletion of the segment as problematic. Many casino operators started not relying on satellites long before Macau announced that it was going to change the way they operate.

While the reduction in the number of satellites – now only around 30 compared to almost 300 two years ago – may not have an impact on revenues, it certainly has an impact in other areas. Macau Post reports that 85.1% of employees who previously worked in VIP lounges are still looking for a job.

Just over 86% of them lost their jobs due to satellite shutdowns; only 7.8% left proactively knowing what was coming. In some cases, the inability to find a new position is the result of a lack of experience in areas other than gaming.

Those who have found work elsewhere must find a different way of life. They were earning $2,400 a month in their old positions. They now only earn about $1,400.

Lack of employment options and lower pay rates frustrate locals; 80% of those who responded to a recent survey said they didn’t think the Macau government was doing enough to help them.

The Macau Gaming Industry Employees Home Association informed the government of this week’s results. Perhaps, as a result, the city leaders will make changes.

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