Genting Has ‘Strong Chance’ of Causing Macau Casino Shakeup With License Bid, Say Analysts

  • Genting “would have been encouraged to come in” with a bid for a Macau license, says analyst
  • Its diverse portfolio meets Beijing’s non-gaming vision for Macau, with more focus on tourists
  • Industry analyst: Genting can give SAR government “whatever they expressly said they wanted”
  • US, China tension is adding pressure on the three Nevada-based incumbents bidding for a license
Genting Casino
According to industry analysts, Genting Group’s non-gaming portfolio, which includes two of Asia’s biggest theme parks, has put it in a strong position to win a much-coveted casino license in Macau. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Cat among the pigeons

Global gambling operator Genting Group was a surprise entry into the bidding war for a Macau casino license two weeks ago. Now, recent reports from Asia-facing analysts and executives suggest the firm has a strong chance of wresting a license from one of Macau’s big six operators.

encouraged to come in”

According to a Reuters report on Thursday, the group headed by Malaysian Chinese billionaire Tan Sri Lim offers much appeal to Beijing’s notions for Macau. In fact, he suggested that Genting “would have been encouraged to come in” with a bid.

The Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) government has earmarked just six licenses for the seven applicants, with all six current concessions expiring at the end of 2022. The incumbents operating in Macau since 2002 are now facing the chilling prospect of Genting taking their place, and industry insiders predict that it would represent the largest shakeup in Macau in over 20 years.

Reuters has cited Ben Lee, the founder of Macau gaming consultancy IGamiX, who said Genting “have a strong chance to topple one of the incumbents.”

Operators in China’s hands

While Genting doesn’t currently have a Macau casino, it’s a global player with gaming properties in the US, UK, Malaysia, and Singapore. However, as reported by Reuters, Lee said it’s Genting’s background and synergies with Beijing that give it a real chance to disrupt the status quo in the gambling hub.

the biggest draw is the fact that the firm runs Asia’s two largest theme parks

Genting has bankrolled multiple non-gaming investments in China, such as the ski resort used at the 2022 Winter Olympics. In addition, analysts suggest that the biggest draw is the fact that the firm runs Asia’s two largest theme parks, Genting SkyWorlds and Genting Highlands, which fit Beijing’s agenda like a glove.

Beijing has long desired Macau to go after foreign tourists by branching out from gambling. Maybank analyst Samuel Yin Shao Yang explained that despite repeated instructions to “focus less on Chinese VIPs and more on non-gaming” the industry has “pretty much paid lip service to that idea.”

As the license bidding war heats up and with so much to lose, the incumbent operators now “have to really make a hard divert to that philosophy,” Yang said. Meanwhile, he said Genting “can offer the Macau government whatever they expressly said they wanted.”

Along with Malaysia-headquartered Genting, the seven applicants for six licenses are the three Nevada-based firms: Sands China, MGM Resorts, and Wynn Macau, as well as Asia-based Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts, and MJM Holdings.

Nervous in Nevada?

While on Tuesday, the Nevada Independent deemed the threat Genting posed the three US-based operators in Macau “more of an oddity than a disruption,” the tensions between China and the US might inform a bigger, more political picture.

Gaming consultant Lee believes now is:

probably the right opportunity for Beijing to remove one American (concessionaire) if not two.”

On Monday, the pressure in the high-stakes license bidding game increased after shares in Macau casinos spiked. The increase came after the SAR announced plans to let tour groups from mainland China return from November.