Jack Black

jb0528-1“We are facing a pretty tough period,” Galaxy deputy chairman Francis Lui said at a briefing this week about prospects for a Macau gaming recovery. Revenue from non-gaming components is expected to grow by the double-digits going forward, an optimistic Lui said. “We would only see in the next two to three years whether non-gaming features can be developed” to account for half of Galaxy’s casino revenue, similar to ratios for gambling resorts in the US. Spot on Mr Lui. The days of “open it and they will come” are over, as are mad new casinos ROIs in 4-7 months like in the past decade. The novel gaming baron said he can cope with the cap on tables – only 150 new-to-market were granted by the gov’t to Galaxy II – but cautioned that the full-smoking ban “is not the perfect solution.” One thing’s for certain: he’s aware Cotai 2.0 will only be viable mass-market. And to get that, heavy marketing of the non-gaming activities is key.

jb0528-2May 25, 2014 is part of the history of the MSAR as the day the power seemed to be on the streets, when tens of thousands of protesters, mostly students and young professionals, rallied against the so-called compensation bill for retired top officials. Veteran scholar and outspoken political commentator António Katchi was one of them, and this week he shared his recollections of those heated times in a feature report in Ponto Final. The demonstration, according to Mr Katchi, was “a spontaneous and genuine” cry by the Macau people against the “unfair” and “greedy” proposed bill. “Comrade” Katchi rejects any “conspiracy” theory according to which Beijing would have “encouraged” the biggest demo since the handover. We beg to disagree, from Xinhua to the Liaison Office, to Beijing, to Xi, the message was loud and clear against corruption and lavish lifestyles the days and weeks preceding the rally. Moreover, we all know what happened next: the gaming “crash” that started exactly the following June. The “Macau Spring” never happened.

jb0528-3According to the Official Gazette, five plots of land in Taipa recovered last week were held by five different companies, of which four were headquartered in the Hotel Lisboa. In total, the 18,000 square meters of land meant for the development of residential and social infrastructures were acquired by Stanley Ho some fifty years ago, as Hoje Macau reported. Dr Ho, 93, who was recently considered “dead” in a profile on his “fourth” wife, Angela Leong, is definitely not flying high these days. But he seems to have friends in high places. At the Legislative Assembly, legislators Leonel Alves, Vong Hin Fai and Tong Io Cheng warned that relentless recovery of land in accordance with the new Land Law “would inevitably cause huge social turmoil.” Mr Alves raised in particular concern for the flow-on effects of mortgages raised on pre-sales. “Small proprietors and their families, as well as the banks’ credit business will all suffer a tremendous hit.” That is a commendable cause for concern. But, 50 years seems a lot of time to do nothing in a place dead thirsty for residential units.

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