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Walking the walk

MGM China taking on the title sponsorship of the Eco TrailHiker event, one previously carrying Sands China’s name, is a way of marking its ground in Cotai, says its CEO, sending out a “challenge” to all corporates and the public to participate in the event set to begin, and end, at the group’s new property on November 8

As progress on the most recent project on the Strip – MGM Cotai – continues, getting to the “coming together quickly” stage, according to MGM China CEO and Executive Director Grant Bowie, the operator is staking its claim to Cotai, aiming to send 2,200 people down its avenues to nearby Coloane and back, as it assumes the title sponsorship of the Macau Eco TrailHiker event.
Announced yesterday, Bowie stated that as “MGM is soon to open in Cotai, it seems an appropriate time to put a stake in the ground and say that we’re coming”. Additionally, the CEO sent out a “challenge” for other “corporates” and the community at large to “come together for a little bit of good spirited competition”.
Last year’s sign-up period to fill the 550 team slots lasted only 18 hours before being “sold out,” according to event director Robert Kirby. The event seeks to promote environmental awareness through two events: a 10-kilometre fun and family course and a 30-kilometre corporate challenge, both set to begin on the morning of Saturday, November 4. This year marks the 8th year of the event, previously sponsored by Sands China.
“I think one of the good things about gaming concessions in Macau is that we always want to contribute. And when one leaves there’s always someone to pick up the baton,” Bowie commented.

Forward thinking
Whether the property will actually be open by the event date is something the company is “working towards; however, “irrespective of what happens, the event will certainly be starting and ending in MGM Cotai,” opines the CEO and Executive Director. In line with this, Bowie admits that there are “lots of little details to resolve,” but overall the group is “pretty happy with the progress”.
Next to resolve are the “necessity to get through all the approvals processes,” he notes.
One approval process that both MGM and Sociedade de Jogos de Macau eagerly await is the granting of new table licences, a topic Bowie notes the operator has “been discussing […] with the government for some time now, and those negotiations and discussions are ongoing.”
Although at the end of the day, the government will make the decision, Bowie says “we’re looking forward to a successful outcome and we are obviously committed to ensuring that we contribute to the diversification and development of Macau,” without divulging how many tables the operator will be requesting to be granted by the local government.

As part of the group’s diversification efforts, the new property will feature a convertible theatre, able to reconfigure according to event type.
“The critical point for us is to create a venue that allows us to provide many different activities,” notes Bowie.
“We’re looking for headliner acts, we’re looking for MICE, we’re looking for product launches, we’re looking for production shows, we’re looking for cabaret entertainment [and] potential uses in education development as part of our MICE incentive and convention business,” he notes of the purpose.
With a recent Bernstein report opining that the MSAR’s non-gaming would grow at a compound average growth rate of ‘over 11 per cent’ from 2016 to 2020, and ‘represent over 10 per cent of the revenue contribution by 2020,’ Bowie notes he is confident this can take place.
“I don’t think 10 per cent is unrealistic and I think we would expect it to go somewhat higher than that over time,” he notes, while pointing out that “we obviously all want to do that because we’re investing an awful lot of money in that process. In terms of our commitment to that, we’re always wanting to actively participate, not just in the creation of venues, but more importantly the creation of content.”
Currently, the group is focused on creating content that’s “actually new, it’s actually originating from Macau and in a lot of ways is about Macau and our life in Macau,” said Bowie.