Macau casinos tighten distribution of free snacks and drinks; some items only redeemable with gaming loyalty points

Macau casinos tighten distribution of free snacks and drinks; some items only redeemable with gaming loyalty points (Allin photo)

Since the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions in Macau early last year, various gaming operators have been giving away a variety of snacks and drinks in order to attract customers again. These freebies include bubble tea, ice cream and dim-sum. Many tourists have made special trips to Macau to enjoy free meals. However, the recent rumor on the internet that some casinos in Macau will scrap such arrangements has caused heated discussions online. Allin learned from industry insiders that starting from today (12th), gaming operators in Macau will adjust the free snacks distribution policy at their casinos. Some snacks can only be obtained for free upon presentation of a membership card.

Since last year, MGM China’s (2282) casinos have taken the lead in offering visitors free bubble tea, which has become very popular among gamblers and young tourists. Long queues are sighted in the on-site dining area from time to time, and visitor footfall has increased remarkably, prompting many other casinos to follow suit. As of today, bubble tea at the MGM Casino can still be obtained for free, but complimentary cakes, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, etc. will only be offered to patrons who have a casino membership and gambling points. Nonetheless, the venue still provides bread-based snacks for free.

As for the casinos under Sands China (1928), basic free drinks and snacks are still available, but these are only available in limited quantities while supplies last, and ordinary members are required to have accumulated 2 gaming points before they can receive the free items. When a guest opens a membership card and gambles in a casino, points can be earned based on the guest’s bet amount, gaming time, etc. These points can be redeemed for gifts like electrical appliances and meal vouchers in the casino.

The casinos owned by Galaxy Entertainment Group (27) have also adjusted their snacks and drinks giveaway strategy, from handing out the goodies to any guests passing by, to only guests who present their membership cards, based on information collected by Allin.

Industry insiders told Allin that casinos adjusted their policies on giving out snacks and drinks after receiving notifications from the relevant authorities. It is believed that the Macau government requires casinos to tighten the distribution of free food items out of consideration for the survival of small and medium-sized enterprises. We reached out to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau regarding the situation, but did not receive a response by press time.

The tightening of free food and beverage distribution in casinos has also sparked debates on the Internet. There are opinions indicating that some gambling operators have relied on these “new tricks” to improve their casino business effectively after the pandemic, and if there are no such goodies, the attractiveness of these casinos will diminish substantially. On the other hand, netizens who support this approach believe that casinos should not compete with small and medium-sized enterprises for business by accustoming freeloaders to eat and drink for free. They believe that if casinos reduce the distribution of complimentary food items, tourists will increase spending in the local community.