SJM Resorts plans to relocate 118 of its table games on the Macau peninsula to its newly opened Grand Lisboa Palace casino resort.
Grand Lisboa Palace, SJM’s long-awaited debut on the Cotai Strip, welcomed its first guests over the weekend. The $5 billion property opened with 150 new-to-market table games.
SJM Holdings, the parent organization to SJM Resorts, its gaming and hospitality unit, says it has received approval to reallocate tables from its other casinos to Grand Lisboa Palace. In a securities filing made with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, SJM Resorts explains that the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has signed off on the table transfer.
SJM has been authorized by the DICJ to request the transfer of additional gaming tables to Grand Lisboa Palace from other casinos operated by SJM,” the notice explained.
SJM is the oldest casino operator in China’s Macau. The gaming giant of the late Stanley Ho, SJM held a monopoly on gambling in the region for decades before Macau was returned from Portugal to Chinese control in 1999.
Five additional commercial casino operators were licensed in 2002, and Las Vegas Sands — one of the new concessionaires — soon began developing the Cotai Strip on reclaimed land. SJM was hesitant to venture to the new area, which has today become the epicenter of where the wealthiest gamblers stay and play.
$5B Casino Takes Shape
The DICJ limits how many table games and slot machines each casino location is permitted. The regulator afforded Grand Lisboa Palace 150 new-to-market table games, but they were designated as mass market tables.
SJM owns and operates five casinos in Macau. It additionally operates gaming at 14 hotels and resorts that it does not own. At the end of the first quarter of 2021, SJM Resorts reported operating over the past three months an average of 177 VIP and 1,066 mass market table games. The firm also managed 1,207 slot machines.
Grand Lisboa Palace’s casino opened with only mass market tables, but that will soon change.
SJM Holdings Chair Daisy Ho said the DICJ has agreed to allow the casino resort to install 1,200 new-to-market slot machines at Grand Lisboa Palace. She added that the 118 VIP tables will also soon arrive, but did not reveal which casinos will see some of their high-roller tables transferred.
Tables Explained: Mass vs. VIP
Grand Lisboa Palace is a $5 billion bet SJM Resorts is making in an effort to regain its market losses in the VIP demographic. VIP tables are critical to the high-end luxury resort’s intended customer base.
DICJ limits betting maximums on mass market tables. However, that doesn’t mean substantial amounts of money can’t be on the felt for each hand. Maximum wagers on mass market tables inside Cotai casinos can runs upwards of several thousand US dollars per hand.
VIP tables are not subject to the same betting ceilings. Instead, the casino is allowed to determine how much action it’s willing to take. To cater to the highest of Macau rollers, casinos need such unrestricted betting limits.
Baccarat is the game of choice in Macau. The game dominates most casino floors in the area.
In 2019, VIP baccarat generated gross gaming revenue of $16.9 billion. Mass market baccarat won another $15 billion. Combined, baccarat was responsible for $31.9 billion of the $36.5 billion the enclave casinos won from all games of chance that year.
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