Chinese officials concerned about overbuilding and its impact on Macau workers

Local media in Macau is reporting that travel from neighboring Guangdong Province, the casino enclave’s principal feeder market, is being retightened to one visit every two months from the current one visit per month.

The visa restrictions, which had been set at one visit every three months last year in response to an eruption of gambling problems on the mainland - including fairly large thefts involving private and government-owned businesses - were loosened this summer to help ease the effects of the recession on gambling revenues, which are the mainstay of the Macau economy.

The move was preceded recently by proposals calling for raising the gambling age to 21 from 18, banning slot arcades from residential areas and limiting the number of table games in the market.

“I've got a feeling that the government’s going to tamp it down,” said Steve Wynn in an interview with Reuters.

The founder and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, one of the peninsula’s leading operators, said Chinese officials appear to be chiefly concerned with the disruption that overbuilding could potentially inflict on workers in Macau.

“The government wants to keep everybody calm while they provide jobs and industrialize the country,” he said. “If they limit the amount of (gaming) tables there is no reason to build any more.”

He said his company favors limits.

“If you allow people to spread games without any control then what happens is they get overzealous - as you’ve seen here in Las Vegas - they hire people and fire them,” he said.