Macau is already the world’s largest gambling hub, but in terms of the comprehensive entertainment offerings it still lags behind other major destinations like Las Vegas. MGM’s new Cotai location seeks to change this by offering a state-of-the-art theatre experience in Macau. Along with an ambitious “jewelry box” inspired design, MGM hopes that its new casino resort will help transform Macau into a world-class destination.
The project has cost MGM $3 billion and is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter this year. When completed, MGM Cotai will have a 500,000 sq ft gaming floor with 500 tables and 2,500 slots. There will also be 1,400 hotel rooms and suites.
However, it’s clear that MGM wants this to be primarily an entertainment and luxury center and secondarily a casino. The remaining 2.5 million sq ft of the MGM Cotai will dedicated to non-gambling entertainment offerings.
The MGM Cotai’s theatre will be fully transformable with 14 seating configurations and 180 degree, 4k screen for viewing content. Moreover, the hotel will have the “Spectacle,” an atrium space with 23 LED walls capable of four story image presentation.
Some outlets have reported that the retail offerings for guests will include Fendi, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, will likely prove popular to the many Chinese tourists in Macau looking for cheaper luxury shopping than in mainland China.
However, according to representatives from MGM no retail offerings have been announced so it is still unknown what retail shops will be open at the new resort.
Nonetheless, the target guests of this new location are not simply wealthy Chinese. According MGM Resort Sales Vice President Victoria Fuh, MGM Cotai hopes to target guests from five key source markets: China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan.
While this new effort is certainly a new direction for MGM, and indeed the whole of Macau’s gaming industry, it is also a reflection of the changing nature of Macanese gaming industry’s relationship with Beijing. Macau’s casinos and gaming parlours have come under scrutiny in past years as sites for money laundering and capital outflow from the mainland, which resulted in a crackdown by Beijing that began in 2014.
Macau’s gambling industry has seen some dramatic recovery after a slump that followed the crackdown. Ironically, this has resulted in concerns that another round of pressure from Beijing is imminent. In the past 3 years, Macau has attempted to restructure its entire tourist industry to diversify its offerings and make the destination for family friendly and comprehensive.
MGM Cotai is the most dramatic example of how international firms are also attempting to gain access to the lucrative gaming business in Macau, but also hedge risk and diversify.