The future of the Macau casino industry reportedly remains positive with aggregate gross gaming revenues likely to rise over the course of 2018 despite the sector facing the dual challenges of combating organized crime and potential terrorist attacks.

According to a report from Asia Gaming Brief, this prediction came from specialist risk mitigation firm Steve Vickers and Associates Limited via its 2018 Asia Risk Assessment report, which also pointed to the uncertainty associated with the looming renewal of Macau’s casino licenses in 2020 and 2022.

“Each applicant must submit to a formal tender, [which means] American companies’ interests may possibly become hostage to volatile Sino-United States relations,” reportedly read the report from Steve Vickers and Associates Limited.

Regarding the possibility that large integrated casino resorts in Macau could present an attractive target for terrorists, the consultancy reportedly declared that the ‘general difficulty of securing firearms and explosives’ in the former Portuguese enclave as well as the area’s close relations with mainland China ‘should ensure security’. But, it purportedly pointed out that such venues would ‘remain vulnerable’ throughout 2018 in spite of recent government moves to ‘improve readiness’ such as its plan to hold a drill sometime this year simulating a ‘gunman attack and arson’ similar to that which took place at the Resorts World Manila facility in June.

“We were well and truly pilloried for raising the terror issue,” Steve Vickers, Chief Executive Officer for Steve Vickers and Associates Limited, reportedly told GGRAsia. “I don’t really understand why, especially given that Macau doesn’t operate in a vacuum and is open to the world. External threats are always possible.”

GGRAsia reported that Vickers commanded the Criminal Intelligence Bureau of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force during the United Kingdom’s administration of nearby Hong Kong. He purportedly declared that the Macau government’s promise to hold a simulated terrorist attack drill in 2018 ‘doesn’t really lower the risk’ but would ‘certainly boost the chances of a more effective response by all concerned’.

In terms of organized crime, GGRAsia reported that the Steve Vickers and Associates Limited report detailed that the government’s recent decision to delay a requirement that the numerous sub-agents working in collaboration with the city’s many casino junket operators be licensed means that illegal activities such as loan-sharking are likely to remain an unpleasant part of Macau’s gaming landscape.

“The involvement of triad societies and organized crime in the gaming sector shows no sign of diminishing, rather it is institutionalized,” reportedly read the report.

However, Asia Gaming Brief reported that the 2018 Asia Risk Assessment study detailed that the political situation in Macau remains stable despite uncertainty over who will be replacing the city’s outgoing Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On, next year while aggregated gross gaming revenues are expected to top the $33.01 billion seen for the entirety of 2017.