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Nothing will be like before

Paulo Rego*

The numbers are raw – and definitive. Gross gaming revenue will drop 35% this year compared to last year – five times less than the level of joy in 2019. Long light years from those golden years of liberalization. The question is no longer knowing at what level the industry can stabilize. The operation, as it is – and will be, is no longer even profitable. In other words, foreign investment is still at stake in this next contest; but it will turn its back on Macau.

In the end, the pandemic crisis only accelerates Beijing’s strategy. The Communist Party does not like gambling and lives well with its demise. The construction boom in China is also over, and the junket world has no source of funding or a license to operate. When Sun City, the system’s biggest pillar, collapsed like a sandcastle, the message no one wanted to hear echoed with a bang. On the one hand, the dimension of the crisis in Macau is a grain of sand in the Chinese master plan; on the other hand, it has long been announced that the game will soon be residual – around 2030. The signs are many and increasingly pronounced.

None of this depends nowadays on the influence of local power; business rationale or the circumstances of Macau. The river follows its course and the destination is the Pearl Delta. History opens a complementary channel to the outside, via Lusofonia. However, business and leisure tourism will have to fill the structure that the game has erected.

Everything is always debatable – and it should be. But to think that any brilliant thesis, visionary analysis, or economic force will change this flow is to misunderstand the character of time. Macau doesn’t even know how to contest, which even guarantees a certain state of grace. The problem is not being agile or competent. Adapts, but doesn’t really know how to act. It lacks the competence of modernity. He’s going to take the storm, and he doesn’t even foresee the calm.

*Director General of PLATAFORMA

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Generalist media, focusing on the relationship between Portuguese-speaking countries and China.

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