MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren


The world’s largest gaming market has the potential to grow even bigger, according to the head of casino giant MGM.

Macau, the gambling haven located in southern China, stands to benefit from the extensive investment being pumped into the Greater Bay Area initiative, James Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International, told CNBC on Tuesday. That government-led plan seeks to integrate several cities in the region — including Macau, Hong Kong and Guangzhou — into a giant engine for economic growth.

Just last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping opened a bridge connecting Macau, Hong Kong and Zhuhai, a city in Guangdong province. That new link, experts have projected, could boost the number of tourists visiting the region.

With that, and other investments set for the 11-city region, Murren said Macau “has the potential to be a much larger market.”

Despite that projection, Macau has seen significantly slower growth in its gaming revenues over the last two months. Murren told CNBC’s Akiko Fujita, however, that’s to be expected.

“We’ve been in Macau for many years now and we’ve seen a very volatile market in terms of (gaming revenue) growth,” he said.

In some cases, the changing fortunes are due to “self-imposed” measures, such as when the Chinese government reduces the number of visas for people entering the city. Another factor he mentioned was September’s Typhoon Mangkhut, which temporarily shuttered casinos.

“There’s no doubt we’re going to see volatility in the monthly numbers,” he said.

Macau’s growth could also get hit by the ongoing trade tensions between China and the U.S., Murren acknowledged, but he described that geopolitical issue as “a small piece of the puzzle.”

“It’s still the largest gaming market in the world. It will always be that, in my opinion,” he said.

MGM Resorts International has two properties in Macau: MGM Macau and the recently opened MGM Cotai.

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