As Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) opened Macau’s first new projects in three years on the Cotai Strip, its vice-chairman Francis Lui stressed yesterday that the mass market will become “the new normal,” and as a result less than 40 out of 150 new-to-market gaming tables that were recently granted to GEG will be allocated to the VIP sector.
Galaxy Macau Phase Two and Broadway Macau, featuring three new hotels and two casinos, officially opened their doors yesterday. The new developments represent HKD43 billion out of a HKD100 billion investment commitment to Macau.
On the sidelines of a press conference held yesterday, the company’s vice-chairman reiterated Galaxy’s interest in shifting its business into the mass market as the mass sector “will be the new normal.”
In addition to providing further non-gaming elements, the company will also be allocating a vast majority of its new gaming tables to the mass market, as previously announced. Vice-chairman Lui recalled that both the market and the customer have evolved over recent years: “Today, we feel it’s not just about the number of gaming tables [anymore].”
Asked whether the 150 new tables granted by the Macau government are sufficient, given that the company had requested 400, Mr Lui said that the market has evolved and having a high number of gaming tables might not necessarily translate into a bigger profit. “Things have evolved; [now] it’s about how to wisely use the tables in the face of new challenges,” he conceded.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged, “When it comes to tables, I will never say, ‘that’s too many,’ but I think that for the current market 150 is very much acceptable.”
His father and chairman of GEG, Lui Chee Woo, also reiterated at the press conference that Galaxy “is a patriotic company,” thus remaining loyal to the central government’s push to turn Macau into “a world center for tourism and leisure.”
He added that Galaxy is moving forward and continues to focus on the Pearl River Delta’s region, which he believes presents unprecedented development opportunities. GEG’s chairman confirmed last year’s announced intention of expanding into Hengqin Island. “We have made a RMB10 billion investment in Hengqin for a mega-scale sports and leisure resort, which will serve to promote the development of the Pearl River Delta and foster communication between Macau and Hengqin,” he stated.
Vice-chairman Lui acknowledged on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference that “some of the non-gaming strategy that we want may not be able to happen in Macau alone.” “Hengqin in the long-term is going to be hopefully merged together with Macau’s development. The question is we need to have the government support from both sides… We need government strategy and policy to make it [work] for us,” he told reporters.
Francis Lui did not disclose any calendar for Galaxy’s development project in Hengqin. Yesterday’s opening ceremony, attended by Chief Executive Chui Sai On, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong, and Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam, marked a new chapter for Galaxy, and represents the first of a series of new projects opening in Cotai in the coming two years.
Galaxy Macau now features six hotels, providing 4,000 rooms, suites and villas, as well as two spas. Broadway Macau is Galaxy’s entertainment precinct comprising a 3,000-seat theatre and a hotel. Luxury hotels the Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and Broadway Hotel have now been added to the existing Banyan Tree Macau, Hotel Okura Macau and Galaxy Macau.
Galaxy confident on concession renewal
Galaxy Entertainment Group’s vice-chairman, Francis Lui, said yesterday that the company is confident of its position in the market now that the gaming concessions are under revision. Asked whether Galaxy is confident that its concession will be renewed, Mr Lui remarked, “It’s not really up to me; it’s up to the government to decide. But I would say I am confident that we have been continuously observing the government issues on what the concessionaires should do, and we have been trying to do the best we can.”
Full smoking ban ‘not the perfect solution’
The full smoking ban that Macau’s government is planning to implement in the city’s casinos “might not be the perfect solution,” Galaxy Entertainment Group’s vice-chairman, Francis Lui, told a press conference yesterday.
Galaxy has just become the first casino operator to open new establishments on the Cotai Strip since 2012, as Galaxy Macau Phase Two and Broadway Macau officially opened their doors yesterday.
Asked about the potential impact of a full smoking ban on the industry, Mr Lui said, “We feel that, in this market where tourism is very important, if we fail to attract customers, there will be huge losses.” He added, “If you ask my personal view, (…) if we think of a full smoking ban, that might not be the perfect solution.”
The company’s vice-chairman hinted that the six gaming operators could reach a better solution to please both staff and customers, particularly given that all gaming companies have invested substantial amounts of money in setting up smoking lounges within mass gaming floors.
Furthermore, Mr Lui said that the company conducted a survey with employees and found that “they don’t really have any strong objection to the setting up of smoking lounges.”
Mr Lui recognized that there is still room for improvement in the lounges’ ventilation systems, as they were given just a few months to set them up last year. He concluded by stating, “As long as there’s a consensus I trust that the six major players can come up with a system that’s going to be more satisfactory to everyone, including staff and customers.” CP