Macau’s Gaming Scene Is Increasingly More Unpopular with the Locals

Macau depends greatly on gaming and casinos for economic support. However, one industry expert points out that depending on local traffic is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

MGM Macau in Cotai. It and other casinos in the city are still popular with foreigners, but not so much with locals. 
There’s no denying the important role gambling plays in Macau. The Chinese SAR has built its landscape around The Venetian, Sands Macao, City of Dreams and more. The international travel segment is a huge part of the casinos’ success, but there has also always been a local element that provided support, as well.

That is changing, and local residents are no longer making their way to the gaming floors. The head of Macau’s Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming at the University of Macau, Davis Fong Ka Chio, highlights a significant decline in local gambling. Fong points to a recent survey that showed that the segment dropped from 67% to 40% in the last year.

Macau Gaming Transformed
Fong relied on a recent survey to formulate his conclusion. The result shows a shift in the interests among the local population, with more residents seeking other forms of entertainment besides gambling.

In addition, consistent with the decline in interest, the number of gambling addicts is falling. At one point, according to Fong, the addiction rate was around 6%. Now, however, it stands at just 0.8%.

Assisting the drop in gambling addiction has been Macau’s dedicated efforts to address problem gambling. There are 59 so-called responsible gaming information stations across the city providing relief. These centers offer customers information about responsible gambling and gambling addiction. Over the past decade, more than 110,000 people have used the service.

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

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

The ongoing battle with COVID-19 continues to impact casino revenue. Without significant improvements, reaching Fong’s estimated goal will be challenging.

No Fallout from Satellite Removal
The good news for Macau’s gaming revenue is that the continued exit of satellite casinos won’t be a problem. Fong doesn’t see the removal of the segment as problematic. Many casino operators began to move away from their reliance on satellites long before Macau announced it would change how they operate.

While the reduction of satellites – now only around 30 compared to almost 300 two years ago – may not impact revenue, it definitely impacts other areas. The Macau Post reports that 85.1% of employees who previously worked in the VIP rooms are still looking for jobs.

86.1% of those lost their positions because of satellite closures; only 7.8% proactively left knowing what was going to come. In some cases, the inability to find a new position is the result of a lack of experience in industries other than gaming.

Those who have found work elsewhere are having to figure out how to live a different lifestyle. Where they were making $2,400 a month in their former positions, they’re now earning only around $1,400.

The lack of employment options and the lower pay rates frustrate the locals. 80% of those who responded to a recent survey indicated that they don’t believe the Macau government is doing enough to help them.

The Macao Gaming Industry Employees Home association made the government aware of the results this week. Perhaps, as a result, city leaders will make some changes.
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