MGM China Considers Bid for Thai Casino License

MGM China considering a bid
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MGM China is reportedly eyeing a casino license in Thailand as part of a strategy to market its Macau properties to Thai tourists. Pansy Ho, the co-Chairperson at MGM China, recently met with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool to discuss promoting tourism to Macau and exploring opportunities within Thailand’s evolving entertainment district plans, which include potential casino developments.

Exploring the Thai Market

Iwan Dietschi, senior vice-president of hospitality at MGM China, emphasized the importance of the Thai market for the company. “The Thai market is among our top priorities as it represents the largest group of visitors from Southeast Asia and is our fastest-growing market,” Dietschi told The Bangkok Post.

MGM China, which operates two integrated resorts in Macau, is 56% owned by Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM). The company’s interest in Thailand aligns with its strategy to diversify its visitor base beyond mainland China and Taiwanese nationals, traditionally the main sources of Macau tourism.

Thailand’s Potential for Diversification

Although MGM China’s pursuit of a Thai gaming license is not guaranteed, the potential benefits are significant. Analysts speculate that forthcoming regulations in Thailand might deter some large-scale operators, but the market remains attractive for its potential to diversify Macau’s tourism demographics.

The first five months of this year saw Thai visitors as the fifth-largest group of arrivals to Macau, according to the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO). This trend supports MGM China’s efforts to attract more Thai travelers to its Macau resorts, especially given the recent surge in gross gaming revenue (GGR) driven by mass-market players, a segment likely to include many Thai visitors.

Accelerated Efforts and Market Growth

May marked the best month for aggregate GGR for Macau operators since January 2020, largely fueled by mass-market players. To capitalize on this growth, MGM China has stationed a sales representative in Thailand and plans to expand its staff there soon.

MGM’s Strategic Moves in Thailand

While MGM Resorts International has expressed interest in Thailand, no concrete plans have emerged. However, with MGM China actively seeking ways to attract more visitors to its Macau properties and the parent company working on an integrated resort in Osaka, Japan, it could be more practical for MGM China to spearhead efforts in Thailand.

Thailand’s Regulatory Landscape

Thailand is working to finalize entertainment district regulations by the end of the year, with five locations already selected for these venues. This regulatory framework could lead to casino bidding as early as next year, followed by potential construction starts.

The number of approved entertainment centers has yet to be determined, but with the inclusion of casinos, these venues are expected to be significant economic drivers. Each entertainment district will require a minimum investment of $2.75 billion, a feasible amount for global gaming giants like MGM.

Conclusion

MGM China’s interest in a Thai casino license represents a strategic move to diversify its visitor base and capitalize on the growing Southeast Asian market. As Thailand finalizes its entertainment district regulations, MGM China’s potential entry could mark a significant expansion for the gaming giant, aligning with broader efforts to attract more international tourists to Macau. With regulatory frameworks and bidding processes on the horizon, MGM China’s involvement in Thailand’s casino industry could be a game-changer for both regions.