Macau’s gaming concessionaires face increased geopolitical risks in 2019, said Steve Vickers, a Hong Kong-based international risk expert in a report on Thursday.
At most risk are US casino operators in Macau, including Sands, MGM, and Wynn Resorts, whom Vickers says sit at the “geopolitical fault line.”
“Spiralling tensions with the US could spur Macau to dilute US casinos’ sectoral dominance, not least given the links between gaming tycoons and the Republican Party,” said Vickers.
With Macau’s chief executive, Fernando Chui stepping down at the end of the year, what the Macau government does with its current gaming concessionaires will be influenced by who will take up the role as the new chief executive, said Vickers.
Vickers believes that Ho Ian Seng, who currently chairs the legislative assembly, to be the most likely replacement for Chui.
Vickers believes that should Ho become chief executive, he could call for Chinese companies to buy into, or take over, existing gaming businesses, or simply refuse to grant new concessions to the current operators.
Other than geopolitical risks, Vickers says that Macau’s gaming operators continue to be at risk to criminal and terrorist organizations, though admits that Macau has recently taken steps to limit the danger.