The Macau SAR will continue to record new post-pandemic highs as it is currently “resurrecting strong” – a comeback that came as a surprise and a much stronger rebound than many expected.
In an exclusive interview with the Times, Rob Goldstein, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, expressed further confidence in the city’s offerings which he feels will continue to attract visitors, as well as mainland and foreign players – even without junket operations.
Following the end of the zero-Covid policy in early January, the long-awaited return of the gaming and tourism sector has arrived after a nearly three-year drought of tourism and gaming revenue.
In a recovery boost, casinos have raked in MOP49.36 billion in the first four months of the year, already surpassing total gross gaming revenue in 2022. If these results continue, the sector will achieve the government’s estimate of MOP130 billion for this year.
Sands China has led this quarter’s earnings growth, notching up revenue of USD1.27 billion in the three months from January through March, more than double the figure from the same period last year.
In Goldstein’s view, the group will continue to be a dominant player here in Macau – particularly with the full opening of The Londoner and what it has to further offer in terms of entertainment, retail and food and beverage.
“Macau is not going to stop. I can’t predict what date [it will surpass 2019 levels] but it has been wonderful. It is resurrecting quickly, much quicker than Singapore, and this place is too good to be denied,” said Goldstein.
The top official of Sands China’s parent company remarked that the gaming operator is positioned to grow for years to come, boasting of its planned investment in non-gaming segments.
Under the new gaming concessions, Sands China made a USD3.9 billion commitment, which, according to Goldstein, was what the government had asked of them.
However, this figure is just a baseline, with Goldstein promising to deliver more non-gaming elements including meetings and conventions, hotel suites, food and beverage and retail.
“We’ll invest more than that. That’s a baseline.… We’ve never been hesitant to deploy capital in Macau. We are big believers in the market and USD3.9 billion is a small number compared to [what can be done] in the next 10 years…. We can’t invest enough,” he said.
Although Macau’s return to normalcy is still in its infancy, the executive disclosed that the May revenue figures will be a new post-pandemic high, noting, “We see May numbers and I think [that’s] the best month of the year so far.… The question is fast and how far.”
Asked about the crackdown on junkets and how it will affect the group’s VIP market, Goldstein is assured that “customers are still there, but how they get here is different.”
“The junkets [was] an end of an era, but we move forward. The future of Macau is just fine without the junkets,” he said.