Tournament Organizer: 'Poker Continues To Gain Popularity' In Macau
Card Game Unaffected By Massive Gaming Win Slump
Despite a prolonged gaming revenue decline in Macau, the game of poker remains strong there, according to an organizer of a prominent tournament series in the former Portuguese colony.
“Poker continues to gain popularity in countries such as China, Japan and India,” Danny McDonagh, the president of the organizing body of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, told The Macau Daily Times. The Philippines has also become home to some high-stakes action.
The APPT’s 2016 Macau Millions main event that ended this week had a record 2,343 players, and, according to McDonagh, two new poker rooms have opened in Macau over the past 12 months. That’s in contrast to Las Vegas, where the poker market is still contracting.
It’s also worth noting that last year a Beijing-based company bought the World Poker Tour.
According to PokerAtlas, there are currently 40 live cash game tables in Macau spread between four rooms—Poker King Club, PokerStars Live Macau, Venetian Macau and Wynn Macau.
Collectively, $20 billion has been invested into new casino projects in Macau, with the new resorts from MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands all slated to open this year.
Gaming revenue in the only city in China where gambling is legal fell to $29 billion in 2015, down from a record $45.2 billion in 2013. Roughly two thirds of the city’s economic activity is from casino gambling. The VIP gambling segment once accounted for 70 percent of Macau gaming revenue, but that portion of the pie is dramatically shrinking as the casino industry tries to cater to mass-market customers rather than high rollers, at the request of the Chinese government. It used to be that 90 percent of all gaming win there came from baccarat.
Poker reportedly is playing a role in the transition away from VIP baccarat play because tournaments bring tourists. Beijing decided to crack down on junket operators that help lend credit to Chinese high rollers, and that’s the key reason for the downturn in Macau. China’s economy has also been sluggish.
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