MGM China CEO sees appeal of Cotai resort offsetting delayed opening

Grant Bowie says the new resort complements MGM’s existing Macau property, allowing the company to cater to the full range of travellers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 5:33pm

MGM Resorts International finally opened its US$3.4 billion MGM Cotai casino resort in Macau on Tuesday after a series of delays, saying that it was confident the new property would have enough appeal to offset any loss of momentum due to its late opening.

The resort’s opening has been delayed four times since 2016, while rivals such as Wynn Macau and Sands China already have a presence in the Cotai area of Macau and have started to build up their customer base, particularly among Chinese tourists.

“My comment to that concern is, that was exactly what happened to us in Macau, we have been successful in Macau, and we will be successful here in Cotai,” said Grant Bowie, chief executive of MGM China Holdings, in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

“We don’t have to be everything for everyone, we are very targeted,” he said. “One of our advantages is that while the two properties we have here are under the same MGM brand, they are very different.”

MGM China, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and billionaire Pansy Ho, Hong Kong’s third-richest woman and daughter of gaming magnate Stanley Ho, has operated its first property, MGM Macau, on the peninsula area of Macau since 2007.

MGM China delays opening of US$3.4 billion Cotai casino resort for fourth time

But casino operators have begun to shift their focus to Cotai – a strip of hotels and casinos targeting mass-market customers – along with the Macau government’s efforts to transform the enclave famous for gambling into a comprehensive tourism hub.

Cotai now has around 10 major hotel and casino resort complexes, including the Venetian Macau and Sands Cotai Central, both run by Sands China, Melco Group’s City of Dreams, the Galaxy Macau operated by Galaxy Entertainment Group, as well as new additions Wynn Palace, the Parisian Macau and now MGM Cotai.

Bowie said however that the diversified experiences the new resort could offer to its target customers, alongside those offered by its existing complex, would be one of the key advantages for MGM.

“Some of the competitors, if you look at them, their properties are actually quite similar,” said Bowie.

“We recognised that we really needed to broaden the range [of our services].

“I don’t care which MGM the customers go to now, as we could accommodate them in both sites.”

The new resort also faces competition from casinos springing up outside Macau, in Cambodia, Vietnam, and even North Korea, which have all been trying to attract Chinese punters.

However Bowie said such places would mostly attract people who only wanted to gamble, whereas MGM and other players in Macau could attract customers who are looking for other activities alongside gaming.

“As the regional places open up they are targeting gamblers,” said Bowie. “As soon as you open a casino the gamblers will be attracted, but if you open up casinos with other facilities, then those people who game, but don’t classify themselves as gamblers, will come and use them.

“I don’t think any of these other destinations can ever get anything near the critical mass market we have,” he said.