Macau posted record monthly casino gaming revenues of MOP 26.86 billion (US$ 3.35 billion) in October 2011. November 2011’s monthly revenue figure was also 33% higher than the same month last year at MOP 23.06 billion (US$ 2.88 billion). 2011 will be another record year for Macau’s casinos but the spiralling revenues have not gone unnoticed by other casino jurisdictions in the region which are increasing their efforts to lure Chinese gamblers away from Macau.
In South Korea there are 17 casinos, 16 of which are open solely to non-Korean citizens. The South Korean government has recognised that Chinese tourists are a growing sector and has implemented plans specifically to try and attract them to visit the country. In August 2010, for example, the government introduced the Chinese Tourist Visa System Improvement Program which extends the issue of multiple entry visas. A “special task team” has also been set up with the specific task of attracting Chinese tourists.
The number of Chinese visitors to South Korea’s casinos has been increasing rapidly since 2005. There were just under 107,000 Chinese visitors in 2005, a figure which had risen to 585,163 by 2010. As a percentage of foreign (non-Korean) visitors, the Chinese represented 18.6% in 2005 and 30.1% in 2010.
The individual casinos have also adapted their marketing strategies accordingly. Whereas previously they had focused on Japanese gamblers, now they are targeting Chinese gamblers based in cities within a two-hour flight of South Korean casinos, including Shanghai.
Countries with land borders with China are also developing casinos with a view to attracting the Chinese gamblers’ money. The government of Laos has given King Romans Group land to develop an extensive destination resort on a 10,000 hectare site in Bokeo province. The resort is intended to feature shopping, restaurants, golf courses, and spa facilities. Currently only a casino has been built. The whole venture is being created in a special economic zone designed at regenerating the Golden Triangle region.
Macau’s gaming sector, of course, has the advantage of experience in tailoring its casinos and hospitality to meet the Chinese gamblers’ requirements. In addition, its proximity to the prosperous Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Hong Kong is another advantage in attracting high-spending gamblers. Any pretenders to Macau’s crown as the leading destination for Chinese gamblers will have to match, if not exceed, the entertainment and facilities on offer in Macau. Macau will not give up its throne easily.