Gaming insights

Dr Rui Cunha predicts Macau gaming freefall to continue

Written by Ben Blaschke

Influential lawyer and leading cultural identity Dr Rui Cunha says Macau will never again reach the giddy heights of recent times, predicting the rapid downturn in gaming revenue will continue for at least a few more years to come.

But he is also adamant that Macau will eventually adapt to the changing financial environment.

In a wide ranging interview with WGM, Dr Cunha – who has worked as SJM’s in-house lawyer for 30 years and played a key role in its expansion – said Macau was now paying the price for growing too fast with more pain still to come.

“I feel we will have this downturn for a couple more years,” he said. “It (the downturn) was too fast. In one year it was a complete squeeze but this will continue and will start affecting many things – business, real estate, investment. So a recovery to go back to the times of the past decade, I don’t feel there is any chance we will come to that. Why? Because that was supported by Chinese money and that will never again be allowed to repeat. It won’t be the same.

China is also changing its mentality and feeling the value of money due to the problems they are facing now. They know they have to look after the future and that will affect the money coming to Macau to be spent.”

Dr Cunha also noted that while a focus on non-gaming attractions, including Macau’s rich cultural history, was important it could never fill the void left by a shrinking gaming economy.

“What the government is pushing for with the creative and cultural industries, I think there is scope for doing but it will never replace the dependence on gaming,” he said.

“Gaming revenues will not be replaced. Maybe in the long run we can try and boost cultural centers and try to create an image of Macau based on historical heritage but it will never replace the gaming industry. It’s impossible.

“But I think Macau will find a way to overcome the downturn and we will adapt. At the moment they are comparing year to year, month to month and saying it is down 36 or 37 percent but there will come a time when it doesn’t go down so much.

“The slowdown was definitely very fast but Macau will adapt. It adapted to the good times, it will adapt to the worst.”

You can read our full interview with Dr Cunha in the upcoming Mar/Apr issue of WGM which will be available on our website later this week.