Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg

Sands China Gets Fewer Gaming Tables as Macau Curbs Industry

Updated on
  • 150 tables ‘surprisingly good’ as some expected fewer: analyst
  • Tycoon Adelson had hoped for 250 tables at Sands’s Parisian

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson joined Las Vegas rival Steve Wynn to receive approvals for fewer gaming tables at their new Macau casinos than they had hoped for as authorities seek to keep the industry’s expansion under control.

Macau’s gaming regulator authorized 150 new gaming tables, including 100 that will be available for the Sept. 13 debut of Sands China Ltd.’s Parisian resort, the casino operator said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange Monday. Wynn Macau Ltd.’s project, which opened Aug. 22, received the same allocation.

The new resorts are coming online as Macau reversed its 26-month slump in gaming revenue in August, with the city’s government pushing casino operators to build projects to attract tourists and are less dependent on gambling. The 82-year-old Adelson had said in December he hoped to get 250 tables for the Parisian, although Sands China would like to get even more than that, its President Wilfred Wong had said earlier this year.

That is still a “surprisingly good” number of tables for operations as there had been concern that Sands may receive no new tables, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Vitaly Umansky wrote in a note Monday. The allocation is sufficient to run the Parisian as Sands has as many tables at its other Macau casinos that can be transferred to the project, he wrote.

The Macau unit of Las Vegas Sands Ltd. gained 2.3 percent at the close Monday, the highest level in about two weeks. The Bloomberg Intelligence Macau index rose 1.6 percent and the Hang Seng index advanced 1.7 percent.

Limit Growth

Macau’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of Macau, approved the additional 25 tables for the Parisian in 2017 and another 25 a year later, as well as 1,614 slot machines. The table allocations are much fewer than the 250 each that Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. received for their new projects last year.

Macau wants to limit growth in the number of new gambling tables to not more than 3 percent per year through 2023, and also plans to raise the contribution of non-gaming revenue to the casino industry to above 9 percent from 6.6 percent in 2014, according to Lionel Leong, the city’s Secretary of Economy and Finance, earlier this year.

“While the government says the number of new tables is determined on an individual basis by each project’s offerings, we cannot help but think the table grant might be driven more by the timing of opening and the industry’s then operating environment,” said DS Kim, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Hong Kong.