The new kids on the block in Macau in November were the Macao Gaming Show (sponsored by the Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association) and the Macao Gaming Summit, both held contemporaneously at the Venetian. Speakers at the Gaming Summit included casino operators, major junket operators, regulators, consultants, and lawyers. While the gaming market throughout Asia was discussed by the speakers, the focus was clearly on the Macau gaming market. The ultimate question was: When is the market growth going to stop? With a number of major new casino projects under construction on the Cotai Strip, the consensus was “not anytime soon.” Andrew Scott, CEO of World Gaming, summed it up by stating that it is projected that in the next decade China will have 500 million middle class citizens (the current total population in North America is approximately 500 million) and that by 2030 China will have one billion middle class citizens, all of whom will have discretionary money to spend. The bottom line of the prognosticators at the Gaming Summit: the Macau gaming market is going to continue a strong growth pattern, subject to occasional bumps in the road.
The Internet was, as usual, another hot topic at the Gaming Summit. The general consensus was that on an almost universal basis the political classes around the world have failed to understand the Internet market demand and, accordingly, have been slow to react to the Internet market in a practical, realistic manner. The United States is, of course, the ongoing poster child in this regard – at least at the national level. The Internet is breaking down state and national barriers at a pace that the political class has been unable to constructively respond to in a universal comprehensive manner that facilitates lawful Internet growth that protects broad government interests (think revenue generation and player protection). There was agreement that the best way to curb illegal Internet operations is to establish realistic legal Internet operations that are cost-effective competitors to the illegal Internet operations, which means realistic cost-effective tax and regulatory regimes that encourage players to play on the legal sites.