Macau’s retendering process is ongoing, with recent reports suggesting the seven operators bidding for six gaming licenses are comfortable pledging $12.5 billion in expenditures over the next 10 years.
A Portuguese media outlet recently reported that the agreement is already in place. The established Macau operators are Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts & Entertainment (NASDAQ: MLCO), MGM China, Sands China, SJM Holdings, and Wynn Macau. All of those companies submitted bids to renew their permits. Genting Malaysia is the seventh bidder and is hoping to usurp one of the entrenched operators.
Assuming the $12.5 billion spending requirement is accurate, it’s likely tolerable to the six existing concessionaires because they spent a combined $35 billion over the previous decade.
Granted, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison as there will no longer be any ‘mega casino’ projects. But construction costs have gone up considerably over the past decade and even a renovation project (e.g. Londoner renovation by Sands) now costs US$1.4 billion of hard capex,” wrote JPMorgan analyst DS Kim.
It’s widely believed that Genting Malaysia — if it wins a casino license in Macau — can easily meet its share of the required $12.5 billion.
Galaxy, Sands on Hook for Most Spending
Galaxy Entertainment and Sands China are the two largest Macau operators. They account for approximately 45% of gross gaming revenue (GGR) in normal operating environments in the special administrative region (SAR).
The bulk of their business is derived from mass and premium mass players. That’s a benefit, as the SAR’s VIP circuit may never return to normal following the demise of the junket industry.
As such, they’re likely on the hook for the largest slices of the aforementioned $12.5 billion. It’s estimated that both Galaxy and Sands China will be required to contribute $2.5 billion, while the other four concessionaires will contribute $1.9 billion apiece.
“The average US$2 billion commitment per operator basically indicates one big renovation/redevelopment project plus some flagship events/shows over the next 10 years, in our view, which is something that operators would do even if there’s no mandatory investment requirement,” according to JPMorgan.
How Genting Figures Into Macau Spending
Genting stunned the gaming industry in September when it decided to enter the Macau fray. Because of the company’s success with gaming venues around world, including Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore, it’s viewed as a credible contender in Macau.
How that takes shape remains to be seen, because the SAR’s newly revised gaming laws allow for just six concessionaires. That doesn’t mean Genting won’t surpass an established rival. But market observers view that as unlikely because of the complexities associated with removing one operator and adding a new one.
JPMorgan’s Kim notes the most feasible avenues for Genting entering Macau are via an equity investment in or a joint venture with an existing concessionaire. Either could be appealing, given the capital needs of several operators there.
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