When did you come to Macau and in what capacity?
I have been travelling to Macau since about 2003 and moved permanently in 2006 with my wife. We have been in Macau pretty much permanently since then, moving up there in a corporate business and moving out of the corporate world with my own businesses.
What was your first impression of Macau?
There’s not a lot there. It was a monopoly. There was a lot of talk about what it could be, but no one really knew. When we got there Sands was on the cards, but it was more about trying to find out what the regulation was going to be, what the operating protocol for machines was going to be. Was it going to be U.S, or Australia oriented? Macau in the early days was influenced a lot by Australians, there were a lot of Australians working in Macau.
What’s the biggest changes you have seen?
The biggest change in Macau has been on a number of fronts. Regulatory, it’s become a lot more regulated and not just in gaming but in Macau itself. When we got there, there weren’t many rules or guidelines to follow. It was a very much a Wild West situation. From the technology point of view, there has been a huge amount of technology being adopted into Macau, simply because the market has matured. The other big change is that the customer base coming to Macau has matured. It’s educated now, so their expectations are much higher. When it first opened, many, many people who were coming in were seeing slot machines from different regions that hadn’t seen before. There were only five table games when Macau opened. The operators didn’t want to entertain anything else because when they opened their doors they were just making so much money. They didn’t have to differentiate. The ability to enter new technology and products was difficult, both from an operating and regulatory point of view.
What did you find most challenging/memorable?
All the Macau-isms. Terms like “cannot.” In the early days, the first thing that anyone would say to you was “cannot.” You’d go into a restaurant and saying can I move that chair and they’d say “cannot,” you go to the bank and someone says “cannot.” Macau-isms are just why is it like that..because it’s Macau. The fact you still need a chopped document, the fact that when you need a document notarised you can only get it done in Portuguese and Chinese. The casino sector has been on steroids for ten years, but when you look at the rest of Macau, it’s only now starting to catch up. It’s a Macau-ism.
How are you expecting Macau to evolve in the next 20 years?
I think the government will try to encourage Macau to become less reliant on gaming. I don’t think it will be that successful, but they will make a concerted effort. Macau will become part of the Greater Bay Area and there will be more continuity between Macau and China. That opens up opportunities outside of gaming. Technology will come into play, things like AI. From a gaming point of view, you have another three years of build out. I’d say by 2025, the gaming growth in terms of infrastructure will stop. The focus will be on delivering results on the current assets.