Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said Wednesday that the local gaming sector was still competitive and a leading player in the region despite its two-year downturn.
Chui, nevertheless, pledged that the government would always ensure that the industry remain competitive.
Chui made the remarks when answering a question from lawmaker-cum-building contractor Mak Soi Kun in a Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle on Wednesday. Mak asked about the competitiveness of the city’s gaming sector in the region.
Chui attended the session to answers prepared questions from 29 lawmakers in the 33-member legislature.
Responding to Mak’s question, Chui said that Macau was still generating the highest gaming revenues in the world. Mak said he was concerned that Macau might lose its competitive edge since more countries in the region now are running casinos and due to Macau’s relatively high gaming tax rate compared to other gaming destinations.
According to Mak, the tax rates on gaming revenues in the Philippines and Vietnam are 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, much lower than the 35 per cent in Macau.
Chui said that Macau’s gross gaming revenue amounted to US$28.9 billion last year, which was three times that of Las Vegas, six times that of Singapore and 10 times that of the Philippines and South Korea.
Chui acknowledged that while the gaming tax rate in Macau was less attractive compared to other gaming destinations, Macau was still a leading player in the global gaming industry, adding that not just Macau but other gaming destinations in the region were also going through an adjustment period.
Chui also said that Macau’s gaming sector was becoming more competitive, as it was transforming itself from relying on the VIP segment to promoting the mass market, adding that the opening of new resorts would add more non-gaming elements.
Macau’s gaming industry has a long history, Chui pointed out, adding that the sector was famous for its brand of “excellence and honesty” in the world. “Macau’s gaming sector is run in a fair way…simply speaking, we do not cheat people”, Chui said.
Macau’s first casinos were licensed by the city’s then Portuguese administration in the mid-19th century.
Chui also said there was a large number of highly qualified staff in Macau’s gaming sector due to years of development.
Chui pledged that the government will keep monitoring the city’s competitiveness compared to other gaming destinations in the region, adding that “we will remain alert [to Macau always having a competitive edge].”
Chui also said that after the opening of a number of large gaming and tourism projects in Cotai, the government would review the ratio of non-local to local workers in the gaming industry.