Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson said Wednesday that high-rollers were going to keep lying low to stay off the central government’s radar until the mainland’s current corruption crackdown, which he likened to a “witch hunt”, eases off.
Adelson made the comments during a talk with students at the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) in Mong Ha, in response to IFT Assistant Professor Baudouin Neirynck’s question about Macau’s eight-month drop in gaming revenues.
“I say that they’ve stayed below the visibility radar, because nobody, whether they are legitimate business people making billions of dollars, wants to come in and be ostentatious,” Adelson said, adding, “They’re staying below the radar and until the Chinese government says we’re not hunting down potentially corrupt people because the high-rollers say they’ll stay low and they won’t be conspicuous in their spending habits until the witch hunt, or whatever it’s called, the crackdown on corruption levels off.”
He added that premium mass players, those who can bet US$5,000 to US$100,000 according to Adelson, are also lying low “because they don’t want the government to see them spending what they consider large amounts of money.”
However, Adelson, 81, was upbeat about the local gaming industry’s prospects as he sees the slowdown as part of a business cycle.
“Recession follows expansion; expansion follows recession. Everything is reciprocal, this too will pass and this too will be reciprocal,” he said.
In response to Neirynck’s question if the current slowdown would delay construction of upcoming projects, Adelson said that Sands Cotai Central, which opened in 2012, was delayed not because of any cycles but a financial issue when it was being built in 2008.
“That was just a financial wrongdoing, we didn’t take the normal road, so that got delayed,” Adelson said. However, he pointed out that his company is now completing the fourth tower of its Sands Cotai Central casino-hotel complex.
The company said last week that The Parisian project in Cotai, which features a replica of the Eiffel Tower, would not open until next year. It was previously scheduled to open late this year.
During the talk, Adelson pointed out that Macau’s limited land resources has led the central government to expand tourism on Hengqin Island.
“But they’re not going to allow any more gaming on Hengqin Island, which on one hand is good for us that are already here, so we don’t get any more competition and that’s augmented by the limitations of gaming tables,” he said, referring to the government’s current measure that limits annual growth in the number of gaming tables to three percent.
Responding to a student’s question on the proportion of local residents taking up managerial positions at Sands’ operations in Macau, Adelson said that 72 percent of its employees are locals.
“We want to promote local people, but you have to bring the talent and the expertise to be able to manage other people,” Adelson said, adding, “It’s not appropriate to promote somebody that can’t manage other people.” (macaunews/macaupost)