Issue raised during 2020 policy address
Ho Iat Seng, the leader of Macau, believes that the largest gambling hub in the world is overly dependent on the gaming industry. Ho believes that there will be extensive challenges as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking during his 2020 policy address, Ho said the government is focused on dealing with the pandemic, helping the region become economically stable, and to ensure that the livelihoods of all citizens are protected.
Speaking about the impact of coronavirus, Ho said it has
fully exposed the vulnerability and huge risks of Macau economy’s over reliance on gaming tourism.”
According to Ho, most people should be aware of the significant challenges that are facing Macau with its development. He went on to speak about how “structural and deep-seated problems” are now emerging that will be detrimental to the economy.
Coronavirus in Macau
Due to the virus originating in mainland China, it did not take long for COVID-19 to reach Macau. Mainland China accounts for over 90% of the gambling hub’s tourism traffic.
All of the casinos in Macau had to close in February for a 15-day period to help curtail the spreading of the virus. This resulted in revenues dropping significantly. Even with casinos being reopened with certain restrictions, visitor numbers and gaming revenues are still very low.
World’s biggest gambling hub
Macau is the world’s biggest gambling hub. Over 80% of Macau’s tax revenue is generated by companies in the gaming industry. About three-quarters of the 600,000 citizens are either directly or indirectly employed in the industry.
While there have been attempts over the years to try to diversify the economy, none have been obviously successful. Ho will be looking to once again find other major revenue drivers for the economy.
Ho and his cabinet will play a key role in shaping the future of Macau
The leader of Macau is viewed as a rarity because he does not have any links with the gaming industry. The Macau native took over as leader on December 20, after being selected by a committee in 2019.
With the licenses of the six main casino operators in Macau set to expire in 2022, Ho and his cabinet will play a key role in shaping the future of Macau.