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Andrew Billany: Reflecting on the last 20 years of Macau gaming

Andrew Billany

CEO, Inspire Entertainment Resort

When did you arrive in Macau, and in what capacity?

I  arrived in Macau with the pre-opening team for Sands in 2004 at that time overseeing all the non-gaming elements of the operations.

What were your first impressions?

Well, having survived the madness of the immigration and Jeftfoil crush on the way over from Hong Kong in those days, my first impressions of Macau were that it was tranquil, apart from the old Embassy Bar. I remember being impressed with the history in Macau, that mix of Portuguese colonial culture, fusion cuisine and oriental charm. Very different from the fast and the furious era of today   

In 2004 there were very few cars or buses, definitely no supercars and very few expatriates. Before we opened the Sands, to get a good steak, we used to take the ferry to HK and eat at Ruth Christie's steak house. Macau back then had none of the ultra consumerism that you see today.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in your section of the industry?

The overall shift in the players' visitor profiles, they are younger, coming from further afield and more affluent. They want to be entertained and appreciated. They expect larger rooms, quality linens, great F&B, offered a variety of entertainment options with world class service, for themselves and now even their families.   

What have you found most challenging or memorable?

The journey; pre and post the "Sands Effect," having been involved with some of the most renowned Integrated Resort companies on the planet, and it all took place in such a short period. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for learning and growth.  

Can you share a curious/funny episode that could only have happened in Macau?

We once had a customer who, over a period of one year, lost US$60 million, never stayed in his comped suite, never ate at the best restaurants we booked for him, and only drank watermelon juice at the table while playing. Only in Macau. 

How are you expecting Macau to evolve in the next 20 years?

While not in possession of a crystal ball, Macau, because of its proximity to China and favorable travel policies, will always be a preferred gaming destination with ever-expanding non-gaming amenities. 

By all forecasts, China will remain the principal source of Asia travelers and GGR because it reflects not only the growing desire of the Chinese to travel given the emergence of the middle classes but also their higher propensity to gamble. 

Twenty years from now, the value proposition that drives GGR today (player budgets, accessibility, casino experience, and attractions) will have changed, but  I'm sure Macau will be at the forefront of those changes.

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