Macau’s government met with the city’s six casino operators and said it would review the size and growth of the industry, including potentially restricting the number of gambling tables. The government of the Chinese gambling enclave didn’t release specifics, but depending on the results of the review, government officials could enact new restrictions on one of the gambling world’s most promising growth markets.
There is a reason for all of this. There is a worry that the government of China, concerned by the flow of black money across the border, will reimpose, and perhaps, increase the bans against people from the Mainland visiting Macau. There are several strong and opposing views on this. One is that the government simply would not do it. But it has done it before and there is little doubt it would be to the advantage of China to do it again. If it were a total ban, Macau would, effectively, go bankrupt. It is with this happy thought in its collective thinking that the government of Macau and the six major operators agreed officials should prevent "unlimited expansion" of Macau’s gambling sector, and government officials said the review would include the number of gaming tables.
There were 4,390 gaming tables in Macau at the middle of the year, according to the latest figures from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
Francis Tam, Macau’s secretary for economy and finance, on Monday told representatives of the six operators, which include the Macau arms of Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, that the government was also seeking to raise the entry-age limit for casinos to 21 years old from the current limit of 18 years old. In addition, Macau’s government said it would ban slot machines, which number about 13,500 in the city, from residential areas. The slot-machine regulations would be drawn up in the next two to three months, the government said, while the new age limit would require approval by Macau’s legislature.
Francis Tam said, "Our main policy is that economic growth has to be diversified, and anytime there is a conflict, then the gambling industry has to be regulated. This is the government’s strong belief."
The even stronger belief is that if the government of the Mainland applies the brakes — and an argument can be made that it should — then Macau’s gambling market would go down the gurgler becuase the ONLY thing that makes it truly viable — or appallingly excessive depending on your point of view — is the money (frequently originating from sources which might be considered suspect) coming from the Mainland.
Turn that tap off and all talk of major development is a joke. Hence at least the appearance of a sober policy to control a situation which is widely considered to be totally out of hand.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in March, Macau’s gross gambling revenue fell 5.9% from a year earlier to $1.2 billion. Sands last year halted two expansion projects at the Venetian, while Hong Kong’s Galaxy Entertainment postponed opening its new Cotai casino and resort until late next year at the earliest.