One of the most important calendar events for the casino industry, especially in Macau, the Chinese New Year is a busy time for the area. Celebrations will begin on Monday, February 8, with The Star already booked for the holiday. Over the week-long public holiday the casinos will be visited by the majority of Chinese gamblers. However, considering the decrease in Macau’s gambling revenue over the last year, the New Zealand and Australian gaming markets should see strong growth in their VIP sectors.
The Star’s base, which is spread between VIP gambling sectors and the mass market, said that both its casino facilities and hotel rooms were fully booked for the next couple of weeks. Managing director of The Star, Greg Hawkins, told the Sydney Morning Herald, “There was significant demand for its restaurants, hotel rooms and casino facilities with more than 4000 room nights booked over the next fortnight.” A couple of new VIP rooms were added to the casino to cater to high-roller gamblers from China who want to play baccarat.
For years the largest portion of Chinese gamblers has been lured to James Packer’s Crown Resorts Melbourne casino. However, a renovation and multi-year expansion program at The Star helped raise the venue’s quality and close the gap between Sydney and Melbourne, said Hawkins. With corruption concerns keeping many Chinese gamblers away from Macau, the only place in China where gambling is legal and the world’s largest casino center, the expectation is that this year gaming operators in Australia and New Zealand will increase their share of VIP clients.
Discussions are ongoing between the New South Wales government and The Star to build a 360-room hotel at the Sydney casino complex. Meanwhile, the company has partnered with Hong Kong companies Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook to construct a $3 billion casino resort in Queens Wharf, Brisbane. Building the 200 meter hotel tower in Sydney would leverage the partnership and upgrade its Star Casino rating. Industry rival and billionaire James Packer believes the expansion will help to attract more international tourists to Sydney and he supports the addition, according to the CalvinAyre.
While Star Entertainment has enjoyed an exclusive casino license to operate in Sydney for a number of years, that license expires in 2019, further igniting the already fierce competition between Star Entertainment and Crown Resorts, Australia’s two biggest casino operators. Packer’s Crown Resorts received approval to build a mega-casino, Crown Sydney, resort in Barangaroo with an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.