As Beijing signals a tightening of the leash in Macau, the only place in China where gambling is legal, casino operators are signing up characters from Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar to burnish their family-friendly reputation. Sands China, the world’s biggest casino operator, announced on Tuesday that it would partner with DreamWorks Animation to attract more middle class mainland Chinese families to the gaming tables.
Macau, a special administrative region in China, is the world’s most lucrative gambling market. The sector pulled in over two-thirds of Macau’s $38 billion in revenues last year, but Beijing is keen to crack down on corruption and money laundering—sending in Li Gang, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s ominously named Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. With a Beijing tough guy on the way, a family-oriented marketing drive sounds like just the ticket.
And DreamWorks could use certainly use the money. The company lost $83 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and said in February that it would cut about 15 per cent of its full-time staff. DreamWorks boss Jeffrey Katzenberg also just announced a controversial deal to partner with a state-owned Chinese firm to make a Beijing-approved movie about Tibet.