Setting Sail and Going Abroad



Photo courtesy of the “Shipbuilders of Mattapoisett” by Charles S. Mendell

There are always many indicators of shifting trends or new trends; the problem is not to recognize them in retrospect, but to recognize them as they appear, to make decisions and take action before the rest of world catches on and the trend changes. We know this “Great Recession” is going to make some changes in the way we live and spend our money, but we are quite sure where and when those changes will occur or what they will be.  For example, there will be changes, at least in the short term, in housing, that is in prices, patterns of purchase, the size of home being built and the length of time it takes to sell a house. But as to the details and specifics we can only guess.

Likewise we know there are changes in general consumer behavior taking place, but again we don’t yet know exactly what those changes will be.  Today, we did get another hint about changes occurring in the gaming industry.  The first clues of this new trend have been occurring over the last few months.  The Sands declared itself to be an Asian company with a presence in the United States, then Steve Wynn said the majority of his company’s profit came from Macau and he was considering moving his headquarters to Macau and finally MGM-Mirage announced a name change from Mirage to International – MGM International.

Now, we now have two more indications, first according to the Las Vegas Sun, MGM has apparently already moved into the international arena in a big way, and is finding the world-at-large much more profitable than the Las Vegas Strip.  MGM currently has hotel-resorts in cities with growing wealth and has signed 17 agreements in countries such as China, India, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Morocco. It is interesting to note the man in charge of the international expansion for MGM, Gamal Aziz, has a very clearly middle eastern name and undoubtedly speaks Arabic as well as other languages.  In the past, speaking finance was the most important language and skill needed to advance with MGM or any other major gaming company; other languages are likely to become as important in the future.

Harrah’s has made more than one move toward a more international presence, today it announced a partnership with Hard Rock to explore Eastern Europe.  That in its own way is declaring Europe to be more attractive to new developments than Las Vegas – last month Harrah’s also put the Rio in Las Vegas up for sale, which at this point should be considered another indication of a fundamental change or an indication of a new trend for major gaming companies – moving out of town. And we should not forget that the American Gaming Association is now supporting some form of regulated, but legal internet gaming; the major gaming companies, Harrah’s, MGM and Wynn certainly help shape that position.  I am not saying they are leaving Las Vegas completely, just they are no longer depending on or planning their future around Las Vegas and that friends is a major shift and the beginning of a new trend; the Las Vegas trend that started with the end of the Second World War and lasted until the current recession is over; the “Great Recession” is indeed making some fundamental changes.

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