Macau seeks gaming innovation, reaching out to new markets of Japan

By Hong Dam-young
  • Published : May 15, 2018 - 17:08
  • Updated : May 15, 2018 - 18:26
MACAU -- It’s not a secret that Macau, an autonomous region in China, has made a name for itself as the new gambling capital of the world in recent years.

And Melco Resorts Chairman Lawrence Ho -- son of Macau gaming legend Stanley Ho and a casino bigwig who runs three major casino-resorts such as City of Dreams and Studio City in Macau -- has shared his business philosophy and ambitions to foray into Japan. 

“Ten years ago, the industry was lazy and low-tech. But right from the start I knew everyone deserved better; guests, employees and communities. Our passion for excellence and our obsession for quality have been our driving forces,” said Ho during his opening keynote speech for the annual three-day Global Gaming Expo Asia that took off at the Venetian Macao on Tuesday. 

Lawrence Ho delivers a keynote speech for the Global Gaming Expo Asia at the Venetian Macau on Tuesday. (G2E Asia)

In its 12th year, the largest gaming and entertainment event in the global gaming industry drew a record number of 15,000 local and international visitors, ranging from those representing budding brands to industry heavyweights. It also featured more than 220 exhibitors, with 35 percent made up of first-timers.

According to Ho, his strong conviction for building something beyond gaming and his wish to take risks for innovation have become the cornerstone of Melco’s success.

“When we built ‘City of Dreams,’ it was during the darkest age, during the global financial crisis. And Melco was the only company that kept building,” he said.

“At the time, casinos or gaming tables were all homogeneous, have always been the same. And we thought, ‘It’s all about building beyond gaming,’” he added, explaining how Melco’s second mega-sized property in Macau, could be established.

“City of Dreams” is famous for running a massive water show at a theater that holds 3.7 million gallons of water, while “Studio City” is Asia’s first leisure resort to integrate television and film production facilities, retail, gaming and hotels. Melco’s new 160-meter tall building, Morpheus, which will house over 700 rooms, event facilities and casino tables, will open at the City of Dreams on June 15. 

An opening keynote speech for the Global Gaming Expo Asia takes place at the Venetian Macau on Tuesday. (G2E Asia)

The Melco chairman also emphasized his vision for Japan, which recently approved a bill that seeks to authorize commercial integrated casino resorts in the country with an aim to boost its tourism industry.

Expressing his ambition to enter the Japanese market, Ho added, “And which tourists are knocking on Japan’s door? Premium mass Chinese, the curious, cultural experience seekers. And why is Melco the right choice for Japan? Because we are Asian premium.” Ho, who has been actively pursuing a Japan gaming license for more than a decade, shared that Morpheus will feature Japan-themed facilities and decorations.

Describing the country’s tourism industry as highly underutilized, Ho explained that about 29 million out of 33 million visitors to Macau last year were Japanese visitors.

Co-organized by the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibition, this year’s show features two new sections: “Asian Lottery Expo and Forum” and “Digital Content & Technology.” A series of conferences will be held on Wednesday and Thursday as well, under the topic of “The Future of Integrated Resorts” and “The Future of Digital Content and Technology,” respectively.

The conferences will feature influential industry leaders including Maria Helena De Senna Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, Wilfred Wong, president and executive director of Sands China Ltd, and Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group and non-executive chairman of Wynn Macau.

By Hong Dam-young (

Korea Herald correspondent