MGM China Eyes Thailand as New Gaming Hub Amid Tourism Growth

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Amid a rapidly growing tourism and entertainment landscape in Thailand, MGM China is setting its sights on a potentially lucrative venture. It seems this casino giant is carefully contemplating the acquisition of a gaming license in the country, a strategic move that could also serve as an effective promotional platform for its properties back in Macau. This news comes from none other than Pansy Ho, co-Chairperson of MGM China herself.

Recently, Pansy Ho is understood to have sat across the table with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor, Thapanee Kiatphaibool. While the primary aim of this meeting was to sell the allure of Macau to the Thai populace, it also served to assess the viability of setting up shop in the heart of Thailand’s burgeoning entertainment districts, which are primed to host their share of gaming establishments.

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The potential of the Thai market isn’t lost on Iwan Dietschi, the Senior Vice President of Hospitality at MGM China who describes it as one of the company’s highest priorities. Noting that visitors from Thailand form a considerable chunk of Southeast Asian patrons frequenting the integrated resorts in Macau, Dietschi reveals that this market is indeed their fastest growing, as reported by The Bangkok Post.

Currently controlled by the Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, MGM China enjoys a commanding share of 56% in the venture. The company presently manages two substantial estates in Macau, referred to as integrated resorts.

Undoubtedly, acquiring a gaming license in Thailand is no sure bet for MGM China. Analyst conjecture suggests the yet-to-be-finalized regulations from the Southeast Asian country may not exactly resonate with the expectations of substantial operators.

Nonetheless, Thailand could hold the key for MGM China to dilute its Macau client base, which is traditionally dominated by individuals from mainland China and Taiwan. Whereas the lion’s share of Macau tourism income stems from these regions, the figures from other countries have been showing an upward trend.

In fact, data from the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) asserts that during the initial quintet of months this year, tourists from Thailand formed the fifth-largest collection of arrivals to Macau. The credibility of MGM China’s Thai-focused strategies is rather apparent.

The above-noted Thai efforts are afoot at a brisk pace, particularly driven by May’s performance. Taking the crown as the best month for aggregate gross gaming revenue since January 2020, mass-market players (the wagering demographic most pertinent to Thai visitors in Macau) were significant contributors.

On American soil, MGM Resorts International isn’t a stranger to Thai interest. Despite the absence of concrete details, the company’s ongoing work on an integrated resort in Osaka, and efforts by its China affiliate to amass more visitors for its Macau properties, suggest a very real Thai presence on the horizon.

The specifics remain to be firmed up, but the path ahead appears clear. Thailand is bustling to green-light its entertainment district regulations before the calendar runs out on this year. And with five spots already picked out for these entertainment hubs, the stage might just be set for casino bidding to kick off next year.

The overall number of entertainment districts that will eventually receive approval is still in the nebulous realm of speculation. However, one thing is clear: not only will these venues host casinos, they could also potentially turbo-charge Thailand’s economic growth.

Given each entertainment district would necessitate a minimum investment of $2.75 billion, the pause to consider capital won’t cause much hesitation among the world’s gaming powerhouses. And it seems MGM China could be a prominent part of the players waiting to kick off the proceedings.