The central government clearly is not going to let up on Macau’s junkets. While the Greater Bay Area plan is pushing more mass-market tourists through Macau, Beijing is pursuing the offshore online-gaming operations run by groups widely believed to be tied to junket operators – although most deny any links to the activity.
Cambodia recently announced it would crack down. The Philippines also said it would stop taking new applications. But that is apparently not enough for the Ministry of Public Security, which sees the online-gaming operations – and their associated money-laundering networks – as threats to national security. Now, the central government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on Manila to ban the operations outright.
As reported by GGRAsia: “POGOs [online operators] are said to have been expanding aggressively in the Philippines, with currently 58 licensed such operators in the country, and three others awaiting licences. Many of these operations specifically target Chinese customers.”
Timing is obviously an issue. The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, and Chinese President Xi Jinping are poised to discuss the issue during a meeting later this month.
The news comes just as official data shows Macau’s tourism industry to be in good health, with visitor numbers up 16.3% YoY in July to 3.53 million. Mainland tourists were up 18.5%, with most growth coming from the nine GBA cities inside Guangdong (+27.5%).
However, data also showed that non-gaming spend by visitors is declining. In Q2, they spent MOP15.71 billion, excluding gaming expenses, down 4.8% year-on-year. Shopping remained the largest single-category, at 44.8% of total outlay.
Read more on GGRAsia.
Guangzhou’s Nansha district government has released a plan for the subdistrict of Hengli, specifically related to its Mingzhu Bay area. Under the plan, Mingzhu Bay will be developed into an eco-tourism demonstration zone.
Hengli itself is being built as a World Financial Island (read our primer here.) But a key part of the plan is to attract international financial companies and talent, which is why Hengli also has a big area along its waterfront designed for lifestyle attractions. Therefore, with its abundance of high-quality ecological resources and a quaint rural culture, Mingzhu Bay is seen as an ideal spot to foster a new kind of tourism in the region – one that is low-impact, low-density and high value-added.
Hong Kong has a Cruise Terminal at Kai Tak designed by Norman Foster that testifies to the challenges facing the development of a cruise and yacht industry in the GBA. But the upside potential is there, says Kara Yeung. It just needs better coordination among tour operators, retail partners, and the governments of the GBA cities. This fits into Hong Kong’s capabilities.
Continue reading Cruise and yacht tourism ready to set sail
Macau’s gross gaming revenues are back in negative territory, thanks to slowing demand at the high end. The July tally came in at MOP$24.5 billion, down 3.5% YoY, surprising many analysts. This followed positive growth in May and June, which had led to expectations rising of the industry getting back on a positive upward trend.
We are not surprised. Since a Xinhua affiliate published a report recently on offshore online-gambling websites run by some of Macau’s biggest junkets – a report they deny – a drop in VIP play was inevitable. The central government’s Ministry of Public Security has made very clear they regard these online-gaming operations as a threat to national security.
Read more on ggrasia.com.
The country’s premier amusement park developer, Chimelong, is not only focused on building Zhuhai’s Hengqin into a global tourism hub. It has continued to grow its business in its original base of Guangzhou’s Panyu district, where it recently secured two new land parcels for RMB3.587 billion. The expansion will include a new amusement park and a 10,000-room hotel.
The two sites, which cover 500,000 sqm, will be used for the construction of a new amusement park and a 10,000-room hotel complex.
Continue reading Chimelong boosts plans for Panyu base
Even without its namesake founder at the helm,casino operator Wynn Resorts can still pull off ambitious property designs. The company announced on Wednesday plans for its US$2 billion expansion of Wynn Palace, its casino resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip, which included non-gaming assets such as a “270-degree fully-immersive entertainment theater”, a world-class art museum and a luxury food hall that offers regional Asian delicacies.
Continue reading Wynn Macau reveals plans for $2b Crystal Palace
Sun City, the dominant junket aggregator in Macau, has been named in an official Chinese media report as being a major operator of online-gaming networks penetrating the Chinese mainland. The report, by Economic Information Daily, which is ultimately controlled by Xinhua, is detailed. It sent an undercover reporter to Macau and looks into what Sun City is doing in its online-gaming business. The results are embarrassing for its owner, the flamboyant Alvin Chau, as well as everyone associated with him, including officials.
The amounts involved are staggering, allegedly more than 1 trillion yuan annually (US$125bn). Read more here in Chinese.
Continue reading Spotlight on Macau’s dark side
US entertainment company Lionsgate’s first Asian theme park, Lionsgate Entertainment World, is set to open in Zhuhai’s Hengqin at the end of this month.
The movie-themed “vertical theme park” will span 22,000sqm of indoor space and will feature 25 attractions including six based on Lionsgate franchises: The Hunger Games, Twilight, the Divergent series, Now You See Me, Gods Of Egypt, and Escape Plan.
Twilight and The Hunger Games will feature via simulators while Gods of Egypt will be the subject of a purpose-built indoor ‘VR roller-coaster’. The park will also feature shopping opportunities and restaurants.
Macau’s visitor arrivals continued to surge, rising 25.6% YoY to 3.39 million last month. According to official data, the increase was driven by day-trippers from the mainland traveling on the IVS permits, up nearly 30%. Moreover, visitors from the nine GBA cities inside Guangdong surged 45.8%, with Zhuhai (64.9%) and Guangzhou (39.8%) standing out.
In the first five months of 2019, arrivals were 17.19 million, up 21%.
Visitors from Hong Kong increased 20%, mostly coming via the HZMB. South Koreans continued to be tops among foreign visitors, rising 1.2% to 65,763 in May.
It’s not enough as a people-carrier: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) must have a space where people can stop and take some selfies. According to Xinhua News Agency, the bridge’s management committee is assessing proposals received in a tender for the island, and the winner will be announced soon.
The eastern island will have an attraction covering around one-fourth of its land, in addition to a sightseeing trail that will be built around the island. The western island is being kept pristine, designated for management.
Read more in Chinese.