Pansy Ho: Gov’t should be “open” and “just” in resource allocation for casinos

Speaking at an annual seminar of Macau Chamber of Commerce yesterday, the Chamber’s vice-president and MGM China Holdings Ltd.’s co-chairperson Pansy Ho Chiu King said that she hoped to see that the local government be “open” and “just” when forming policy for allocating resources to the city’s casino operators.
She was speaking along with several other local trade chamber heads in a review of their businesses and prospects in Macau at the seminar yesterday. Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac also attended.
“During the course of issuance of the [casino] licences, the land resources that MGM China got was the smallest of the six casino operators, which was only 2 million square feet,” Ms. Ho said in her speech, citing the land resources allocated for The Venetian Macao’s 10.5 million square feet and Galaxy Phase 1’s 6 million square feet in Cotai.
“That [land allocation] greatly restricts our development. We hope to see that in future the government can be open and just in forming the policy for allocating resources so that the capable investors that are positioned to push for a diversified development can have a bigger participation here.”
She made no mention or remark about the city’s gaming table allocation policy in her speech.
Diversification While noting that MGM China has chosen cultural and arts events as a principal facet of its non-gaming business, the casino operator’s boss said she hoped to see that the city can participate in more international art events and the related business opportunities, such as art auctions and exhibitions.
“Macau’s casino industry is now in the second phase of development…We need more support in [terms of] space, time and resources to invest further in developing non-gaming elements,” Ms. said at the seminar. She declined to hold interviews with the media after the event.
At the seminar, Ms. Ho remarked that the co-operation potential between the casino operators and the government, or amongst the casinos, has yet to be “fully released”. She urged the MSAR administration to encourage and promote more cross-sector co-operation, such as with the city’s small and medium businesses.
In a report published earlier this month by Hong Kong’s The Standard, Ms. Ho said that the Macau Government should signal that it is interested in allowing the city’s casino operators to stay in the market when their licences expire in 2020 and 2022.
“The timeline should be lengthened. The fundamental principle should not be altered. Otherwise, how can Macau attract long-term investments? If the payback period is too short, no-one will be interested,” Ms. Ho was quoted as saying in The Standard.
The MSAR Government is expected to start the mid-term gaming licence review this year.