Various local media reports indicate that neither Sands China Ltd nor Wynn Macau Ltd have made application with the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) for new to market gaming tables to be placed in their Cotai casino resorts which are expected to open before the end of the year. Wynn Palace is set to open August 22 and Parisian Macao in mid-September.
Portuguese language newspaper Jornal Tribuna de Macau, and gambling industry website GGRAsia were able to get comments Tuesday from Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac, and Wilfred Wong Ying Wai, President of Sands China on the sidelines of an event marking the beginning of an initiative organized for 600 Sands China workers dubbed ‘Professionalism Training for Gaming Practitioners’.
The government’s insistence upon sticking to a table allocation cap has caused uncertainty because they maintain discretion as to how to distribute the new to market tables and have been waiting until late in the launch process to announce how many tables a newly opened venue will receive. The first large Cotai development to open under the rules was Galaxy Phase II and Broadway, The HK$25 billion ($US3.22b) properties received a total allocation of 150 new tables just five days before opening, signaling in May 2015 that the government was serious about the table cap.
Studio City learned a week before opening in October that they would be allowed 200 new tables. The $3.2 billion Melco Crown project was granted an additional 50 tables in January. The resort opened with no VIP rooms and completely in line with what the government has been insisting on, namely cultural and tourist friendly venues. Studio City recently announced they would be adding high-roller clubs, possibly as soon as the current quarter.
The $4.2 billion Wynn Palace has presented documents to the government estimating the number of table games and slots they are able to place, but no specific request. According to GGRAsia Mr. Leong stated, “We hope the company can give us additional information. At the same time, DICJ will speed up on the related analysis.” He went on to mention the ten year table cap of 3% compounded annually that began at the end of 2012 with 5,485 tables.
Steve Wynn complained about the table cap in an earnings call last October after seeing net revenues decline nearly 40%. Expressing frustration with Beijing’s crackdown on junket operations and the downturn in Mcau, Wynn was particularly upset about the table cap, telling conference call participants, “The table cap is the single most counter-intuitive and irrational decision that was ever made,” Wynn said. “Here we are spending billions of dollars … and then arbitrarily somebody says, ‘well you should only have this many tables.’ No jurisdiction ever has imposed that kind of logic on us,” said the Las Vegas and Macau casino mogul, drawing a sharp rebuke from the government in a special Sunday meeting with company officials.
The $2.7 billion Parisian Macao will open with VIP gaming in September, according to Jornal Tribuna de Macau, wrapping up a year in which Cotai will have seen more than $10 billion worth of property openings with perhaps less than a thousand new tables entering the market. Mr. Wong of Sands reportedly said, “We don’t know [how many tables] we’ll have,” and Lionel Leong Vai Tac, Secretary for Economy and Finance told reporters on the sidelines of Tuesdays event that, “We haven’t received any documents,” in regard to table allocation requests from Parisian Macao.