This week saw the opening of Galaxy Macau – the latest mega casino to hit Macau’s developing Cotai strip. However, the region’s poker players will have to wait for a while longer to see just how the venue plans to include them. At the time of press, we were unable to get an official response from Galaxy Macau on their potential implementation of poker but the rumours suggest there might be a poker room springing up in the casino sometime next year.
The HKD $15 billion five-star resort includes more than 2200 rooms, suites and villas. There are three world class hotels in the complex – the Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Japan’s Okura Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and the luxurious Galaxy Hotel – all reflecting an authentic Asian approach to their hotel and entertainment facilities. The resort also features a multiplex movie theatre, shopping boulevards and what is said to be the world’s largest skytop wave pool complete with a white sand beach.
With Macau’s gaming revenue experiencing phenomenal growth at the moment (see Macau Casino Revenues Surge), Galaxy Macau is specifically targeting the mass market in what officials there believe to be Macau’s next gold mine. Whereas once the destination relied heavily on China’s wealthy for casino revenue, the new developments springing up on the Cotai strip are focusing on catering to the rising Chinese middle class. Said to be Asia’s answer to the famous Las Vegas strip, the expectations of Cotai strip visitors are to not only be able to gamble but also enjoy world-class facilities, entertainment, dining and shopping options.
However, for poker players, all of these amazing facilities don’t mean much if there aren’t any tables on which to enjoy the game they love. While there are five other resorts in Macau offering poker rooms (see Macau Poker Guide), part of the dilemma for any new casinos or existing ones considering opening up poker tables is that there is a cap on the amount of total gaming tables they are allowed. Due to the nature of the game pitting player against player rather than the house, poker generates far less revenue in the form of rake compared to that of baccarat or black jack tables where operators can win thousands of dollars in just one hand. This makes it extremely difficult for casino executives to justify creating a poker room when looking purely at table revenue figures.
There are, of course, other arguments for casinos bringing in poker tables. Often poker players also enjoy playing other games that the casinos offer and, while poker is the main drawcard for their visit, players will undoubtedly spend money elsewhere on accommodation and shopping. In addition, with poker’s surge in popularity, having a big poker tournament at a casino helps in marketing the venue and can add to the prestige and recognition of the brand.
While there have been suggestions from those in the industry that the Macau casinos will be asking the government to make poker exempt from the table cap, the present situation makes it difficult for Macau to attract poker players and hold world-class international tournaments. In a country such as the Philippines, where there is no table cap, it is far easier for casinos to offer poker as another gaming option for visitors. In the example of Resorts World Manila, they are now the second biggest poker room in terms of rake in the Philippines market and play host to prestigious tournaments such as the Asian Poker Tour. This makes it a premium destination for the region’s poker players.
So while the opening of a new casino in Macau is an enthralling event for gaming enthusiasts, poker players can only remain hopeful that they are not forgotten in all the excitement.
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