Last week’s announced slowing of casino development and fixing of commission rates for junket operators was welcomed by the director of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM), Stanley Ho Hung-sun yesterday as necessary to stop the “cut throat” competition between operators.
“I think it is excellent news for Macau in general. It is high time to take care of the gaming sections problems,” he said before presenting the trophy for the Macau Derby 2008 at the Macau Jockey Club yesterday, a race sponsored by SJM.
“It is no good with all the six operators always fighting together using cut throat measures of getting customers into their casino, this is not correct because there is enough room for all six of us.”
“There is no need to do this monkey business, cutting throats, it’s the worst thing possible.”
Mr Ho, also a standing committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the move had been prompted by the central government’s concern with the development of the gaming industry in Macau.
“Now that Beijing is concerned and wants to do something in Macau so that all six operators will be controlled by governments gaming section regarding the commission,” he said.
“I am fully in favour of such an action and I think not only that, we must all agree that in Macau now we have far too many casinos and there is no point of opening up more casinos, more than enough, more than rice shops, so that is something we don’t want to encourage.”
However SJM intends to move ahead with its Macau peninsula project, which will possibly see the expansion of the Jai Alai casino.
The original behemoth ship-ship shaped development which took in the Jai Alai casino, New Yaohan department store and ferry terminal at the outer harbour has been definitively dropped, said Mr Ho.
“I Stanley Ho will not agree with the Oceanus project, I think too big, too much, we can not operate such a huge project involving so many factors,” he said.
“It may be a good idea from the start but it doesn’t work, I am giving up this project and I think the government is supporting me 100 percent.”
However the Jai Alai casino and department store will be redeveloped shortly, clarified executives later, with construction expected to begin as early as June.
As the application for the development has already been submitted with the government, last week’s announcement of a freeze on new casinos won’t apply to the site, said Ambrose So, director of SJM.
However the final approval has not yet been granted: “I hope the government will give consideration to this contract,” said Louis Ng, director and chief operating officer of SJM.
It remains unclear if the announced control on table numbers will affect the project. Currently Jai Alai operates approximately 60 tables, four VIP rooms and more than 200 slot machines.
“We will consolidate the configuration of the casino (Jai Alai), so this will be extended to the New Yaohan site. It’s, the same gaming license, it’s a new addition,” said Mr So.
“That (the new development) will of course comply with the number of tables allowed by the government. It is a re-configuration of the tables and a re-configuration of the hardware itself, it is not a new casino.”
The executives would not give away details of what else was planned for the site, however when asked about details on hotels and shopping, Mg Ng replied that the target audience is “day-trippers”.
The development will begin once the New Yaohan has relocated to the new building in the centre of the city, which will happen at the end of June or July, said Mr Ng.
Cotai clarification needed
The company is also looking for clarification from the government about what it can build on its two small plots of land in Cotai, which are located in front of the exhibition hall of Venetian Macao and close to the Macau Dome.
“We have submitted our application,” said Mr So. If casinos can be built on the sites “depends on the detail arrangement of the government policy,” he added.
“The government is still not very clear on that point and we would like to further clarify that with the government before we progress.”
The Macau Derby 2008 was won by Brazilian jockey Durso on New Zealand horse Farson, with owner Vincent Li picking up a first prize of HKD 1.3 million.