“The high-rollers say, which here [in Macau] are called VIPs, that they will stay low and will not be conspicuous in their spending habits until the witch-hunt - or whatever it is called, the crackdown on corruption levels – goes down”, he said when asked about the eight-month decline in gross gaming revenue. “They want to stay below the visibility radar because nobody, whether they are legitimate business people making millions or billions of dollars, wants to come in and be ostentatious”, he added. According to Mr. Adelson the anti-graft policies of China’s President Xi Jinping are not only affecting the VIP segment but also hitting the premium mass market. “A lot of these people [premium mass] are laying low as well because they don’t want the government to see them spending what they consider large amounts of money. I would say the premium mass player would be somebody who can bet in US dollar terms 5k to 100k”, the hospitality tycoon said. “Now, everything in life is cyclical. Night follows day, day follows night, recession follows expansion and expansion follows recession. Everything is cyclical. This, too, will pass - and this, too, will be cyclical”, he stressed. In relation to the future of the Special Administrative Region, the 81 year-old magnate admitted that he thinks that the room for development in Macau is limited when compared to the American city of Las Vegas.
“My vision for the Cotai Strip -which I named after the Las Vegas Strip, and I also trademarked the name - is relatively small comparing it to Las Vegas. The problem is there is not enough land here”, he told the 200 students at IFT attending the event. “To expand the tourism industry the PRC has turned over Hengqin Island for development by investors in the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macau. But they aren’t going to allow any gaming on Hengqin Island and that is augmented by the limitation on the number of gaming tables that the Macau Government, in conjunction with the PRC government, has put. But on the one hand, that’s good for us who are already here, so we don’t get more competition”, he explained.
“No-one to hire”
After being asked whether he believed in a down cycle in Macau which would result in empty construction sites, as happened after the financial crisis of 2008 when Sands Cotai Central was delayed, Sheldon Adelson blamed an incorrect financing strategy.
“Sands Cotai Central was delayed not because of any cycle of visitation but because of the financial crisis. I had a former president who did not finance what is called the project financing for Cotai Central. And so we parted ways… Actually, I showed him the door”, Sheldon Adelson said. “And then I got the financing and resumed construction. It’s now the largest building in the world. That was just a financing wrongdoing because we did not take the normal road”, he added.
During his presentation, Adelson praised the decision of the students of IFT because he said that according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) tourism is the largest industry in the world. “Does anybody know which industry is the largest in the word?” he asked the students. “I thought it was food because everybody has to eat every day. I was asked that question on a visit to the World Tourism Organization in 1998. They said it was tourism. I just want to tell you [students] that you guys are in the right industry”, he said. Next year, Sands China is expected to open the Parisian in Macau. And yesterday the chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp. told students that he is ready to tackle the labour market. “We’re looking for people in construction for our operation for the Parisian. We’re also going to need thousands more people for the retail here”, he said. “In Macau, the unemployment rate is at 1.7 percent and so for us the problem is there’s nobody to hire”.