Macau Says Casinos Need to Heed Its Rules After Wynn's Gripes

Macau's Government Hits Back at Steve Wynn
  • Meeting ordered by officials after Steve Wynn's complaints
  • Macau has “no plan to make any changes lightly”: government

Macau’s government has hit back at Steve Wynn’s criticism of its policies, demanding casino operators comply with its rules days after the Las Vegas tycoon criticized delays in being informed how many gaming tables he will get for a new multi-billion dollar resort.

Casino representatives including Wynn Macau Ltd. president Gamal Aziz were summoned for a meeting Sunday with the city’s secretary for economy and finance Lionel Leong, according to the Hong Kong-listed unit of Steve Wynn’s casinos operator. The 73-year-old Wynn on Thursday lambasted government limits on gaming tables and said delays in casinos being informed how many would be allocated were “outrageous and ridiculous”.

Macau has “no plan to make any changes lightly” and demands “clear understanding and full compliance” from the industry, the government said in a statement on its website after Sunday’s meeting, which the chief of its gaming regulator also attended. The government “regretted” certain opinions about its gaming and labor plans, it added without directly referencing Wynn’s remarks.

The city has powers to enact policies aimed at broadening the economy and developing Macau into a world tourism center, according to the statement. China’s president Xi Jinping in December ordered the city to diversify its economy from casinos, on which it relies for about 80 percent of revenue.

‘Irrational Decision’

Wynn Resorts fell 6.4 percent to $68.25 at the close in New York, while Las Vegas Sands Corp. lost 4.4 percent to $47.54 and MGM Resorts International was down 2.6 percent to $21. Wynn Macau shares slumped 4 percent at the close of trading in Hong Kong, the lowest in a week, while Sands China Ltd. declined 6.4 percent and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. dropped 5 percent. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was little changed.

Uncertainty in Macau is complicating hiring decisions and could force casino operators to terminate employees, Wynn said in a post-earnings teleconference with analysts, during which he called the city’s gambling table cap “the single most counterintuitive and irrational decision that was ever made”.

The casino billionaire’s remarks came as Macau posted a 16th straight month of gaming revenue decline in September, its longest downturn on record as President Xi’s anti-graft crackdown and a slowing Chinese economy curbed high rollers traveling to the world’s largest gaming hub.

Wynn Macau is planning to open a $4.1 billion resort in the territory on March 25. Its parent Wynn Resorts, the first of the large U.S. casino operators to announce third-quarter earnings, on Thursday posted revenue that trailed analysts’ estimates after a large drop in gambling in Macau.

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