The denial of new licenses for the U.S.-owned gaming concessionaires operating in Macau in the upcoming tender would be an “act of self-harm,” said the CEO and owner of Global Betting & Gaming Consultants (GBGC), Warwick Bartlett, during an online conference held on Wednesday by Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia.
Addressing the growing tensions between China and the U.S. in the trade war, the gaming specialist said, “If you asked me to bet on this I would say that the American licenses, in spite of the tension between the United States and China, would have their licenses. The reason I say that is [because] not to grant them would be an act of self-harm on the part of the Macau and Beijing government,” Bartlett said. “They have invested so much money and they have brought Las Vegas to Macau, and the end result is that what they have produced has been incredible. The size of the operation, the [number of] bedrooms per property, the standard of [the] finish, the levels of customer service, the property [itself] is top-class. [It would be safe] to say that it would be self-harm if they were not allowed to continue.”
Another major reason why Bartlett does not expect the new licensing tender to pose any significant novelties or surprises is because governments worldwide have historically always been very conservative about gaming licenses, favoring stability over progress.
“The casino licensing tender works a bit like a lottery license to an operator. It’s very rare that the incumbent is not renewed on a lottery, because there are so many risks involved with someone else taking over and no politician wishes to take that risk, and I think the same applies here,” he said.
Economic recovery likely to come with higher taxation
Addressing the economic downturn that is currently affecting the gambling industry, Bartlett hinted that according to his experience, it will take about five years to return to an economic situation that is similar to before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another recurring pattern is making use of extra taxation to capitalize on the government and compensate for the long period of lost revenue.
Bartlett hinted that the same could happen in Macau, with the government potentially enforcing higher taxation on gaming activities in the short-term, at least.
As he said, “No politician ever lost an election or even a vote for increasing taxation over gambling activities.”