“WHIRL POOL” – Transformation of Macau

Posted: March 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

By editor:  We invited Mr. Kaplan to write this special story column based on materials & conversations that he compiled over time from those who worked in Macau during the early years of casino industry development.  Some episodes are dramatized for reading pleasure. This story column posted here does not represent any views of Professional ground Decoder.  Readers should be reminded that if they find similiarities in the storyline it is just mere coincident. 


“Whirl Pool – Transformation of Macau Casinos”

By: Alan Kaplan

PART 1 – Episode 1:  The New Dawn In The East

Cool air fills the streets of the tiny enclave under control of The People’s Republic of China, Macau. After 1999, this place is categorized as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) like another territory of China – Hong Kong.

It was the winter period of late 2003, weather in Macau remained very cooling and bearable.  The late afternoon sun provided a bit of warm feeling for James Wu who stepped into the lobby of Hotel Oriental. He came here all the way from Malaysia to meet his long time friend Francis Eadington.  Waiting at the lobby of one of few luxury hotel in Macau, James recalled his exciting encounters together with Francis almost a decade ago, where in Malaysia they worked for one of Asia’s luxury cruise lines. The cruise line they worked grew leaps & bounds through dramatic expansion period of 10 years.

“Hi my friend!” James looked up and saw Francis walking in quick pace towards where he sat. Francis started to fire long burst of words immediately upon sitting down on the lobby couch. “Hey, look. This is really a big time deal for us. This place is thrust into a whole new ballgame now. You must come with us.” James listened to Francis’s story with patience.

James is in his 40s, an experienced sales & marketing professional operating in the region of East Asia in partcular he is very familiar with China and Taiwan markets. Francis tried hard to convince James to be part of this ‘big deal’ – deregulation of Macau’s casino gaming coupled with entrance of American international mega casino groups into this under-developed territory.  Francis is a good story-teller. He described the scenario as big as the begining of the ‘universe’. 

After the meeting, James walked away and headed straight for the airport, his brain stuffed with loads of big happening that are about to turn into reality in the Special Administrative Region.  Wow, he thought… recalled that it was already in December 2003 he made his first ever travel to Macau


The weather remains cooling all day in Macau. It is the month of January of a new year, a new begining.  James walks from the hotel he resides to the office he works. He is now the general manager of marketing for one of the large American casino group based in Las Vegas – The SilverStone Casino Corporation (SSCC).  SilverStone is one of the first to obtain casino operating license in Macau new gaming landscape. SSCC is keen to rush through the ‘process’ and determines to fully exploit first-mover  advantage in the enclave. 

On the tactical front, SSCC must overcome the biggest local competitor in Macau – The SJM Casino Group.  Bosses of Silverstone in Las Vegas head office are full of confidence to beat their local major competitor but at the ‘battle front’ (Macau) the locally based management team might not be thinking the same. Even James starts to feel the heat after his arrival in the SAR (Macau). James knows one thing for sure, this place has a very different cultural context from other Chinese culture and practices in overseas, with 400 years of Portugise influence besides its original southern China cultural linkage.

The SSCC management team for the new casino property based in Macau consists of nationality of Americans, British, Canadian, Australian, European and the Chinese.  The opening management team is headed by a chief operating officer who is hired from Australia casino industry. According to insider stories, James realized that this current COO is not the first in Macau, a few had been sacked before him.  That was even before this new property is up!  But this scenario does not deter James much as he had experienced very bad corporate culture and management in the past.

The biggest challenge of the local COO/boss for SSCC’s Macau project is to bring the diverse team together and that is really easy said then done, REALLY.  That in time to come, James would learn some of the hard lessons as well as for himself to face some most outragous team management practices ever seen on earth!  The big show has just started as promised by James’ friend Francis who’s the Head of hotel operation with the same project, but it turns out to be quite a big ugly show… yet extremely exciting when it unfolds.


(To be continued…)



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