Macau casino operators seek sports betting opportunities

Macau’s casino operators say they would like to be able to offer sports betting to their clients, given the huge level of turnover in Asia, with Sands China saying it may seek cooperation with the current holder of a monopoly license to bet on sports.

Macau Slot is the only operator able to offer sports betting in Macau. According to figures from the regulator a total of MOP8.39 billion ($1 billion) was bet last year football and basketball combined, virtually flat from the prior year and far short of the MOP223 billion in gross gambling revenue generated by casinos.

However the reported figures don’t reflect the appetite for sports betting around Asia, which is booming from India to Thailand. The Asian Racing Federation estimates that about RMB500 billion ($72.5 billion) is bet illegally each year in China’s Guangdong province alone, with more than RMB150 billion wagered on horse racing.

Speaking at a panel at G2E Asia, Sands China President and Executive Director Wilfred Wong said he expected the monopoly situation in Macau to continue for the next few years.

“But what we may do is to try to see how we can cooperate with this operator because we agree that sports betting is prevalent everywhere and we would like to be able to provide this offering to our customers,” he said, without giving further details.

MGM China chief operating officer, gaming, John Shigley said that limiting sports betting is doing nothing to detract from its popularity.

“It’s going on, it’s happening. Even in Nevada where it’s legal, the amount of legal betting is dwarfed by the amount that’s off the books,” he said.

“There’s a wide desire to bet on sports in Asia and it’s already huge business. We would love to have a piece of it and pay a whatever tax rate is most relevant to develop reinvestment and pay the best salary for our employees.”