A stock exchange? A financial centre? Traditional Chinese Medicine? Creative industries? Ho Iat Seng said what he thinks about the ’emerging industries’ and he has not revisited the ideas associated with Xi Jinping’s last visit. However, it left the door open to ground-breaking news.
MB June 2020 Special Report | Diversification now or never
Just two words, to be sure, but it was the first time that a Macau official, even more significantly a Chief Executive, hinted at a possibility that hitherto was considered nearly unthinkable. When Ho Iat Seng was asked about the possibility of allowing Macau’s casinos to engage in online gaming, the answer was: it is “being studied”.
The words of the Chief Executive, being a novelty, are not however an absolute surprise.
A few hours before Ho Iat Seng’s remarks, during the press conference that followed his maiden Policy Address, one of the most respected gaming scholars in town hinted at that.
“Even though the re-tendering of gaming concessionaires would not include the considerations of online gaming, the SAR government should start research and discussion about online gaming in the short-term,” said Macau Polytechnic Institute (IPM) Professor, Zhonglu Zeng, as quoted by Inside Asian Gaming.
Professor Zeng also added: “One of the biggest concerns is that online gaming is forbidden in mainland China, however, mainland China bans any kind of gambling, right? Macau is a special enclave which allows gambling in China, thus Macau also has the space to explore opportunities for online gaming.”
Zhonglu Zeng, President Fahad Tamimi of the Asia Pacific Association for Gambling Studies, was actually just one of many experts who in recent weeks have come together to talk about the topic, as the Coronavirus crisis was taking a massive toll on the city’s core industry.
“Even though it is illegal, I hope to see the incidence of telephone betting in casinos” in Macau, warned in January David Green, founder of Newpage Consulting, a firm specialised in Macau gambling affairs.
In the same context, Jason Ader, managing partner at SpringOwl Asset Management and a former board member of Las Vegas Sands, told NBC that the ripple effect of the virus and fears of a pandemic,…