Featured in this article:
  • Genting ayes possibility of Macau casino license
  • Approval would greatly shake up Macau's casino industry
  • One of the Big Six could lose license and its casino

4 Minute Read

Genting casino is big in Malaysia and Singapore, and could move towards Macau too

The global gambling industry could witness one of its biggest shake-ups to the establishment this century following the news Malaysian-based Genting Group is planning to bid for a Macau casino license.

Genting is one of the world’s biggest gambling operators. Worth around $4.4bn, it has resorts in Malaysia and Singapore, casinos in Europe and the US, and is one of the most well-known online casinos in the UK.

Listed on the Singaporean and Hong Kong stock exchanges, Genting is one of the biggest players in Asia. But so far it has been unable to muscle into the potentially lucrative Macau market due to licensing restrictions.

However, after 20 years Macau is now renewing its six casino licenses – and Genting wants in on the act.

Genting casino Macau

Could we soon see a Genting casino in Macau?

What Is Genting Doing?

According to reports in the South China Sea, Genting is seeking to unseat one of the Big Six in Macau and secure a 10-year gambling license. 

Headed by Malaysian Chinese billionaire Tan Sri Lim, the company is ready to make an offer to take over one of the casino licenses from 2023. Genting’s previous work with the Chinese government when providing the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ski resort, and its non-gambling entertainment assets, make it an attractive bidder in Macau.

What’s more, the increasing tensions between China and the United States makes Asia-based Genting a far more viable option for Macau than some of the US-owned casinos currently based in the territory.

Genting, which also has a 40% stake in developing a Macau hotel, looks well placed to make a successful bid and has a positive cash flow of HK$1.5bn ($191m).

Why Genting Big Affects Rest Of The World

Now, Genting launching a bid for a Macau casino license will have larger ramifications to the industry than just South East China. While the bid isn’t as impactful as, say, the Covid-19 pandemic or America’s expansion into online casinos, having a seventh player in the market in Macau is big news for the industry.

The reason for this is that it drives competition in a part of the world that has, for the last 20 years, been dominated by the Big Six Macau casinos.

Macau is the Las Vegas or Monte Carlo of Asia but on a supersized scale. In pre-Covid times it was raking in as much as $36bn a year from gamers – largely from China.

Much of this cash was funnelled back to the United States, the HQ of parent companies that own the likes of MGM China and Wynn Macau. China sees this as a drain of its currency, as Chinese gamblers were primarily the ones fuelling the boom.

In response, Chinese authorities have stepped up measures to encourage tourists from elsewhere to visit Macau, in the hope they can wean the territory of Chinese junkets. They have also tightened the legislation around casino licenses, and reduced their length by half to 10 years.

All this means that when the six Macau casino licenses came up for renewal in 2022, all the current casinos seemed reluctantly willing to go along with the new rules because the territory remains lucrative.

But a seventh name in the hat complicates things. Not only could it spark a bidding war, but  according to Yahoo! should one of the current Big Six lose its license then that could send a shockwave through the industry that has collectively spent $50bn on investments in the past two decades.

China doesn’t want to spook its current six operators, but the country also wants competition. Yahoo! quotes an analyst saying a seventh bidder could cause “far too much disruption” in a market that is already feeling fragile due to recent Covid-19 lockdowns under China’s Zero Covid policy.

Issues For Global Industry

And perhaps what’s most worrying from a global standpoint is that, should Genting beat an incumbent casino to one of the six licenses, then that casino would need to surrender its gambling facilities to the government free of charge by the end of 2022.

That’s a mega financial hit for whichever casino loses its main asset – and not something that is likely to convince other casino firms to bid for a Macau license in 2032.

Macau and the Chinese authorities therefore have a conundrum to solve and need to tread carefully. Do they stick with the Big Six and keep the equilibrium, or shake things up by welcoming Genting into the territory?

Either way, the gambling industry in the US, Europe and the rest of Asia will be watching this deal closely.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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