Some insight has been gained recently into Pansy Ho’s Macau, the casino city as seen through the eyes of one of the most important women in the business. She is the richest woman in Hong Kong and the daughter of Sir Stanley Ho, the “King of Gambling” who made the first steps in transforming Macau from a once sleepy Portuguese colony into the new capital of the gambling industry.
She may be one of the hot casino girls that really is shaking up this industry, but it turns out that Ms Ho is not actually interested in gambling herself! “I don’t play,” she says. “I’m a terrible gambler. I don’t know half the rules and I’m not really patient enough to sit through hours of gaming.” As she emerges as the heir to Stanley Ho’s casino empire, therefore, it may come as no surprise to hear that she is bent on bringing something new to the area – making it more than just a weekend destination for high rollers and a novelty attraction for gambling day trippers from Hong Kong.
“We want to broaden out: we want to have the shows, the music, the retail experience, maybe even certain themed attractions,” says Ms Ho. “One aspect of what everybody is keen to explore, is that in five years’ time Macau will have 40,000 hotel rooms, close to Hong Kong but still really a much smaller place, so what do we provide when people come to visit?”
Plans that are starting to take shape include nods towards the Las Vegas Strip, where you can find shows by Cirque du Soleil and famous singers such as Celine Dion staying to play for months at a time. “We need to find ways to bring to Macau something interesting, maybe not unlike what Abu Dhabi is doing,” she explains. “By taking into consideration the new infrastructure it is a possibility we can continue to grow the capacity, and therefore grow the visitor numbers very healthily. We don’t believe the Chinese government will allow for excessive or incessant double-digit growth, but we believe they will also maintain a certain growth level that is commensurate with the investment activities.”