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Macau’s focus on growing the mass market not a wise decision, says junket association head

Focusing too much on development of the mass gaming market is not the best direction for Macau to take in a post-COVID world, with the city set to rely more heavily than before on VIP, according to Director of Macao Games and Entertainment Mediators Association, Lam Kai Kuong.

In an interview, Lam said the push to diversify the local economy by urging operators to focus on the mass market was not a wise direction to take, with growing mass market revenues also resulting in record visitation of 39.4 million people in 2019.

“Even though the pandemic wasn’t around last year, Macau found it very difficult to deal with 40 million visitors,” he said. “This massive number of visitors has already seen Macau reach an extreme capacity and is causing too many problems in society.

“It’s very difficult to keep growing the mass market. It’s impossible to force every visitor to gamble when they visit Macau, isn’t it?”

Adding fuel to the fire was COVID-19, Lam said, which had also highlighted the dangers of relying too heavily on mass. Instead, a recent study conducted by Macau Research Center showed that those players still arriving to Macau in recent months were high-end players with an average spend of MOP$87,000.

Meanwhile, Lam suggested VIP operators must expand their horizons to more international markets in the future, having seen around 50% of their Macau rooms closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Local VIP clubs lack the resources and mindset for developing their international market,” he said.

“Under normal circumstances, it’s okay to concentrate on the mainland China market, but in an extraordinary period like this, those who disperse their risks into different baskets are better placed to survive.”

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