Melco Crown: About-Face on Studio City VIPs?

Melco Crown Entertainment, which at first eschewed VIP gaming at its new Studio City property (l.) on Macau’s Cotai Strip, is now reportedly weighing the benefits of junket operations.

“Not very satisfied” with results

Melco Crown’s Studio City casino resort on Macau’s Cotai Strip made headlines last year when it opened without VIP gaming facilities. At first, it was seen as a bold move in keeping with the trend away from reliance on high roller revenues.

Now the company may be changing its mind. According to reports from and GGRAsia, Melco Crown Chief Operating Officer Ted Chan Ying Tat has said the company is “internally are not very satisfied with the current condition” of the Studio City property, a Hollywood-themed resort that opened in October.

At that time, Co-Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho said the choice to exclude VIP rooms demonstrated the company’s commitment to focus on mass market guests, and also was a direct result of the local government’s allocation of 250 new-to-market gaming tables, not the 400 the company had requested. Ho’s contention was later refuted by Alvin Chau of the SunCity Group, Macau’s largest junket operator. Chau told Inside Asian Gaming, “It is known that (Studio City’s) license for VIP rooms hasn’t started.”

The VIP share of Macau’s gambling market has tumbled along with the market’s overall revenue, which has now reported two straight years of monthly declines. When Macau’s revenue was at its peak, the VIP segment as a percentage of the whole ranked in the mid- to high-70s. In Q1 2016, VIP’s share had fallen to 54 percent.