Jack Black

jb0313-1The gaming industry will always remain Macau’s major lure, said Lawrence Ho last week at top meetings in Beijing as a member of the National Committee of the Chinese Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The son of the ailing gambling patriarch and Melco-Crown’s boss displayed a strong voice and a clear mind when it came to defending his turf. Macau’s worldwide notoriety owes dearly to the gaming industry. If it wasn’t for that we would be either a Hong Kong backwater playground or, more likely, a Zhuhai neighborhood destined for oblivion. When in the world people spell the word “casino” Macau, more than Vegas, comes to mind: the MSAR is the third national gaming market after colossus-economies like the USA and Japan. It is so because of the mainland and HK inbound gamblers. Lawrence is right to stand for his dame, and he was clever enough to maintain that it’s the very economy that is at stake: only with a strong gaming industry is diversification possible. “Macau ought to strengthen its legal system regarding the gaming industry and re-orient itself towards achieving the goal of diverse economic development at an appropriate pace,” Mr Ho said.

jb0313-2Betting in Macau has fallen for nine months as a crackdown on corruption by the Chinese gov’t prompts high-rollers to avoid conspicuous consumption. Last week, LVS president and COO Rob Goldstein told investors at a JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference to expect cuts to the Las Vegas-­based company’s marketing and entertainment budget. “We’re not looking to take it apart, the whole structure, but reexamine [it],” Mr Goldstein said. Casino revenue in Macau fell 49 percent to 19.5 billion patacas in February, the steepest drop since 2002, but Sands – which focused its local operation on the mass market – has been less affected by the slowdown, Mr Goldstein explained. We understand the need to “reexamine” costs in times of recession but cutting non-gaming ventures, when Beijing is making a last call for diversification, may not be the best hand to play.

jb0313-3Certain research conducted by the General Association of Chinese Students indicates that around only half the city’s younger generation identify themselves as Chinese, the media reported, citing Li Gang, who represents Beijing interests here. The director of the Liaison Office took the opportunity to renew the call for the implementation of “patriotic education” in Macau’s schools, a statement which came as no surprise to anybody. However, it’s hard to take Ho Iat Seng’s comments on the matter seriously. The AL President dismissed what he labeled “the brainwashing claims” regarding the so-called national education. “I believe it’s not justified to ask whether patriotic education for youngsters is brainwashing, since it’s a must that citizens have patriotic education,” Mr Ho said. With these kinds of remarks Ho Iat Seng just shows how distant he is from his fellow citizens. Hence the fence?

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